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Self-Employment As A Moral Imperative


You may not own your job.  But don't allow your job to own you.

Steve Coerper

Steve Coerper

It’s Sunday morning.  Joe Average is just leaving church, as he’s done hundreds of times before.

But this Sunday is different.  His life in general, his life this past week, his conversations with his wife yesterday, and a particularly poignant message from the minister this morning have all combined to bring Joe to a sort of cross-roads in his life.

Joe is tired of a life of just “going through the motions.”  He wants his life to be authentic.  He’s tired of professing one set of standards on Sunday, and then living the rest of the week as if his principles don’t matter.  He wants to take his spiritual life to the next level.

Just like the minister said.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday come and go.  So far, so good.  But then:  Thursday.

“There is a problem with one of our major accounts, Joe,” his supervisor begins.  “Basically, we screwed up.  If the client finds out, he will probably take his business somewhere else.  But we can cover ourselves and avoid the blame if you re-work these spreadsheets.  It won’t take you long and no one will ever know.”

“I don’t know, Fred.  That would be dishonest.”

“Well, if that client walks out the door, your job walks out with him.”

I can’t speak for everyone, of course, but I would guess that incidents like this are not unusual.  Probably not where the job is on the line – though it could be.  But incidents where a moral response may be “take this job and shove it,” but the job-holder needs the money.  So he will continue to trudge off to work, even if he hates his job.

That’s the dilemma.  Each of us is morally required to be honest, and each of us is likewise morally required to provide for himself and, if he has one, his family.

You should be able to take your conscience to work.  But as long as a boss, or a corporation, or a job holds the key to your financial security, you can find yourself between the proverbial “rock and a hard place.”

This is why I’ve concluded that some form of economic self-sufficiency is a moral imperative.  Having enough savings to be able to live for a year will work.  But for most, some form of self-employment or home-based business is clearly the best option.  And that’s why I’m investing myself in transition coaching. Going from “employee” to “entrepreneur” can be a difficult bridge to cross.  It’s a lot easier if you don’t have to cross it alone.


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The author is a transition and self esteem coach living in Raleigh, North-Carolina.

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