The Biggest Risk You're Taking with Your Career

The Biggest Risk You’re Taking with Your Career

Not everyone wants to start their own business. I get that. A lot of people are happy in their day jobs. I've been there.

But if you work for one boss or one company, there's a risk you're taking without realizing it. You're taking this risk all while believing you're doing the right thing.

If you're taking this career risk, if we act now, we just might be able to save you in time.

In business today there's a silent catch-22 deceiving everyone involved. We're trapped if we do, and trapped if we don't. We have to do what we're told, but if we do, we're caught.

But first

When I was in high school, one of my first jobs was at American Eagle. I shared more about my employment here, but that job taught me a lot about navigating life and business.

While working at American Eagle, I learned to provide value by always looking for something to do. Folding jeans, hanging shirts, or sweeping floors.

Fast forward ten years and I'm working at a Fortune 50 IT company. I'm the Sales Rep of the Year and I'm crushing it for the business. After my rise to the top, I began to look around to see what I was doing that my peers weren't.

What I found was a follow-up to the lesson I'd learned at American Eagle a decade before.

What I realized was there's an inherent risk to business and being an employee.

The Catch-22

To keep your job, you must do what your boss tells you to do. However, if your boss could tell you everything they needed you to do, they wouldn't need you.

Doing what your boss tells you to do will get you nowhere. In fact, doing what you're told is the biggest risk you're taking with your future.

Let me explain.

When I was at American Eagle, there was no way my manager could tell me everything I needed to be doing all the time. There was clothing to straighten, hundreds of square feet of floor to sweep, and a half-dozen employees to manage.

There's no way management could stay on top of everything.

Fast forward 10 years.

When I was at my last job I managed a $15 million business. I was on a team of thirteen in a department of over 120 people. Thousands of moving parts and two billion dollars in revenue was more than any ten people could keep under control.

There's no way management could tell us everything we could (or should) do to be successful.

If I hadn't learned to do more than what I was told to do when I was eighteen years old, I never would have become successful ten years later.

Here's the catch-22 no one is talking about:

Your boss can't tell you everything that needs to be done. If they could, they wouldn't need you.

If your boss could make a list of every task and how to complete it, they could outsource it. They would hire someone cheaper.

Let's break it down.

1: Bosses can't tell you everything that needs to be done.

There is no “to-do” list long enough or thorough enough to include every aspect of your job. If there were such a list, your job would have been outsourced or automated years ago.

To be successful at my last job, I spent hours doing things that were so far out of my job description it wasn't even funny. And that still wasn't enough.

Consider the complexity of software these days. If you're doing what you're told, someone could write a program or build a machine to do those same things. Seriously.

2: If they could tell you everything, they wouldn't need you.

Whether you know it or not, if you make more than minimum wage, you're paid to think. You have a job because of what you can bring to the table in addition to what you're told to bring.

The same principle applies to every industry.

Gordon Ramsey makes more money than I made at Sonic. All I did was what I was told; to flip a burger after two minutes. But Ramsey brings creativity and art to the kitchen.

Calvin Klein designed and created clothes. All I did was fold them.

As long as you're doing what you're told, you're at risk. Coloring inside the lines and doing as instructed is the biggest risk you're taking with your career.

Not only are you putting all your eggs in one basket, but you're not using the gifts God has given you.

Now, before you start a mutiny, think about this for a second.

While running your own business, which I hope you will be soon, would you behave any differently if you could find ways to get things done that cost less?

I can't say I would.

Actually, I'd do the same thing. If I can find a way to automate part of my business, I do it. To get this done, here are some of the tools I use on a daily basis.

Whether your goal is to start your own business or you're content working for someone else, you now know about the career risk that goes along with employment. This catch-22 is no longer silent. It no longer hides, waiting to prey on the unsuspecting.

Would you agree there's a catch-22 in business today? If so, how would you suggest we handle it?


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  • JasonBeaton says:

    Great article Ellory!  Reminds me of a Jim Rohn Quote – “Always do more than what you are paid for.”  I can’t wait for your next post!

  • Ellory Wells says:

    JasonBeaton Thanks Jason! Rohn also said, “Work harder on yourself than you do on your job.” But you’ve heard that one before.

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