Where Is Your Security?


The Olympics are in London this year, but in the U.S. we’re gearing up for our own non-stop spectator sport. It’s a lot like a reality show, complete with advertising and corporate sponsorship. Many candidates enter, but only one remains when it’s over.

At the end, one competitor will win by a slim margin. The next four years will be spent fighting about what happened, all the while building up to the next installment in 2016.

The competitors belong to different clubs with marginally different beliefs, but they all share the same commitment to “restoring the American dream.”

Notably, they all talk about “creating jobs for the American people,” which is a strange promise to make. They will “fight for jobs and stand up to China,” refusing to back down until the land of liberty returns to a place and time that never actually existed.

It’s all very surreal. Regardless of their politics, how does any government leader go about creating jobs? Spoiler: aside from directly paying people to work, there isn’t much they can do.

In some ways the candidates make these promises because they are expected to. They have to show strength and confidence. If the electorate is concerned with unemployment, a candidate for higher office has to sound like he has a plan.

But I also think that many of us are attracted to any kind of rhetoric that promises a solution. (Never mind how illogical or impossible the solution may be.)

When something goes wrong, we just want someone, anyone, to fix it for us.

In the U.S. and elsewhere, real unemployment remains high. Many people are only marginally employed, working part-time or far away from the field for which they trained. How do we get out of this mess? Well, we probably won’t get out of anything. But you can get out of it yourself, and you can do so by creating your own career independence.

It’s a two-step plan:

Step 1. Stop waiting for someone else to solve the problem.

Step 2. Take responsibility and do something entirely different.

Where I live in Oregon, hundreds of people routinely apply for entry-level jobs that pay less than $15 an hour with no benefits. Many of them have college degrees. It’s not unusual to meet a barista or bus driver with a master’s degree.

I don’t think the answer for these people is just try harder. I don’t believe that polishing their resumes and sending out more applications will help them, at least not most of them.

I also don’t think it’s their fault, at least not collectively, and the solution can’t just be to “make more jobs,” even if someone could do such a thing by issuing an edict.

If you really want to make a job, your best bet is to make your own. My upcoming book, The $100 Startup, tells the story of how people from many different backgrounds forged their own career. Everyone in the book found a way to earn at least $50,000 a year (many earned much more) by using the skills they already had in a creative way.

The goal of the book is help people create their own freedom and independence by following the lessons of the case studies. I’ll be sharing more about it as we get closer to the launch on May 8th, but for now, think about this question of security. Here are a few definitions of the word:

1. Freedom from risk or danger; safety.
2. Freedom from doubt, anxiety, or fear; confidence.
3. Something that gives or assures safety.

When it comes to career independence, you can find security in any number of ways. You could, for example, become so indispensable that your employer agrees to adjust your job to suit your preferences. Or you could work in a field that is actually useful and in demand, such as medicine.

Or you can find a way to create a job that doesn’t currently exist, focusing on what you already know how to do that will also be valued by other people. That’s mostly what we focus on over at World Domination HQ.

But no matter how you get it done, no one else will do it for you.

How about you—where do you find your security?

Feel free to share your belief or experience in the comments.

I’m traveling in the Sudan this week, and will post up as many responses as I can.


*My friends at Charity: Water are beginning a new campaign today. If you’re wondering how to make a real difference with a global problem, join me in giving up your next birthday.

Image: POD

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  • Shayna says:

    I’m currently in transition between my previous full-time job (paid decently, but I didn’t enjoy it) and creating my own (I enjoy it, but it doesn’t pay well… yet!)

    The way I created my security for this in-between stage was by negotiating an agreement with my previous employer to work only 8-10 hours a week, long-distance and on my own schedule, and get paid hourly. It’s enough to sustain me in Brazil while I work on getting my creative self-employment up to full-time awesomeness 🙂

  • Nicole says:

    As always – a great post. I’m currently reading your first book and I look forward to your second when it comes out. Can’t wait to hear how visiting Sudan goes.

  • Mark says:

    I always wonder that myself, how politicians think that they can *create* jobs. Can they magically force consumers to demand a product or service that’s obsolete, in order to give a couple hundred thousand workers a paycheck for a few more months? How sustainable is that approach?

    The real job creators are those that venture out on their own and engineer their own careers. I really wonder why everybody’s always looking for a scapegoat for their troubles…

  • Louie says:

    I do something everyday to transform my passion for art into my artist’s dream life. Instead of waiting for a gallery to find me I’ve created my own instant galleries by hanging art on fences in Philadelphia’s abandoned lots. I believe that if someone finds a painting with bright colors or the words “Je t’aime” or “Love” written on them, they have to smile. Plus they get to walk away with a beautiful piece of art. I’m finding a way to create something from nothing and I can feel my bartending job slipping away to reveal my full time life as an artist!
    Best wishes to everyone with the spirit and passion to make dreams real!

  • CTKWingChun says:

    I have run my own small business for the past five years. I find security in different things.

    My family and friends are security – they help keep my spirits up and push me to greater heights. Having a little pin-money is security in case things dry up in the business world. This wasn’t always the case and I built my business on credit for some time.I find security in my health – knowing that I exercise and eat well, therefore I rarely have a sick day and can keep providing for my family.

    Lastly, I find security in myself – I have faith in myself that I will prevail or find a new way to do things.

  • Sarah Farrugia says:

    Agreed. We could be far more proactive in helping people to realise their potential outside of the formal organisation. If th next gen can see this they will be far better off in the long run. This shift will also enable large organisations to adjust to have a more human approach too.

  • Spook Moor says:

    Well I lived most of my life in Africa and have seen both sides of the equation here. What it boils down to is the difference between good and able government and not picking a government for a cause which is the surest way to disaster.

  • rixturey says:

    Not everyone has the “gumption” or willingness to go out and start new enterprises. For some people, $100 is a lot of money — it’s food, medicine, transportation or other need that must be met.

    I myself have a freelance graphic design business. During this recession, I lost all my major clients due to budget cuts and personnel changes. I’m ok and surviving, but a lot of folks just aren’t.

    Having said that, the federal, state and local governments can and do produce jobs — particularly in maintaining our infrastructure. Our water system, electrical grid and bridges, to mention a few, need basic maintenance and upgrading. There are a lot of jobs there for construction workers, engineers, managers, etc. Those services are suffering due to cutbacks.

    There is no one solution to our economic issues. We need to look at all sides and see that one size does not fit all.

  • Herb says:

    My security is in the fact that I left my 70+ hour a week job, which paid well, to become a father to my four children. Men especially have been raised to believe that the only way you can become a man is to make a boatload of money, even if it means not participating in raising your family. My other security is the business I have started, which is farming. It’s secure because I work at home, participate in my childrens’ lives, and I make some money whie I’m at it. I’m outside, teaching my kids to care for where they live, for what they eat, and how they act. The chances I’ll be surprised by a phone call at 3 a.m. are slim, in my opinion. Teachers have the privilege of educating our children; we have the responsibility.

    As you stated, politicians cannot create jobs. They cannot lower the price of oil. Tax breaks do not create jobs, only need or a niche creates jobs.
    Gotta go; my girls want me to play soccer with them.

  • Christopher says:

    In the present tense.

  • Corey Koehler Music says:

    I find security in learning new things and always seeking out sources of inspiration. The more you learn, the more opportunities you see. Opportunity is everywhere when you [prepare for potentially “corny” way of describing it… all i could think of at the moment] lift the vale of ignorance. 🙂

  • Owen Marcus says:

    You nailed it. It starts with personal responsibility.

    For 35 years I have seen the impact of declining personal responsibility in the arena of healthcare. We expect as you say, someone to fix it – be it our bodies, economy, environment…. We have become a culture of entitlement. We expect to be able to take a pill we don’t pay for, that cures everything as we continue to not change any of our behaviors.

    Yet it is great to see others stand up to ‘be the change’. Slowly a growing faction are changing their behaviors and changing the planet.

  • Maia Duerr / The Liberated Life Project says:

    Excellent post and comments. In addition to the helpful pragmatic aspects of creating ‘job security’ that you offer here, I like mulling this over on the meta-level as well. One of my very favorites quotes on this topic comes from playwright and feminist activist Eve Ensler:

    “Consider what would happen if security were not the point of our existence. That we find freedom, aliveness, and power not from what contains, locates, or protects us, but from what dissolves, reveals and expands us.”

  • Ann Miller says:

    I wish the healthcare system would catch on to this fundamental change in how we create our own work. As long as the system assumes that a big-company employers will provide health insurance for the majority of Americans, entrepeneurs will struggle.

    Both my husband and I own micro-businesses, and so I speak from experience.

  • David Lynch says:

    Studs Terkel interviewed a woman in his book “Hard Times”, about people who lived through the Great Depression. She said,

    “Security is knowing what I can do without.”

    I’ve had my own graphic design business since 1986. My talent and my drive are big contributors to my sense of security. But knowing what I can do without allows me the flexibility I need to persevere through things I can’t control, like economic fluctuation, natural disasters, etc.

    My business and I have survived:
    • Southern California earthquakes and the ensuing financial downturn
    • The Bush 1 recession in the 1990s
    • The Rodney King riots (which shut down my business for days)
    • Relocation to a small town in North Carolina
    • and the most challenging of all, the economic downturn that began in 2008

    During every one of these events, I had to adapt to some degree. Knowing that I can adapt (do without some things in lean times, and really appreciate the luxuries during good times), is where I find my confidence.

    It’s a good feeling, knowing that I can handle most anything life throws at me!

  • Josh says:

    Personally, especially lately, I’ve realized that I balance security and pleasure in a way that isn’t sustainable long term. My job sets me up financially, but I’m realizing that if I come in everyday for the rest of my career, I won’t get the most enjoyment out of life.

    The issue is that I don’t think people necessarily thrive while feeling secure, at least not on a creative level. Psychologically we all want security, it’s one of our basic necessities. But there is no room to grow inside a box; or at least you grow much slower because you have to grow against resistance. We need to be out in the world, overcoming obstacles and struggling with our dreams in order to truly be the best we can be. A little doubt never hurt anyone, did it?

  • Jarie Bolander says:

    My security comes in realizing that there is no security — only the illusion of it.

    I have seen countless colleagues who thought they were “indispensable” and then, Wham, laid off after 20+ year at the same company.

    In some cases, it’s not even about personal responsibility or not working hard — you just happen to zig when you should have zagged.

    The people who overcome this are the ones that have true security because they have security in the fact that whatever zig or zag comes, they can deal with it.

    Safe travels to the Sudan


  • Amy says:

    It took me getting out of my corporate job to start feeling more secure: confident-wise and financially.

    When I took the step to work independently, I opened up the doors to creating more time to… well… create. Now, I choose my own hours (about half as many as I was working before), make more money, and have the freedom to travel and write my blog. Through starting my blog, I started to fully realize what I am passionate about. After discovering this and being able to devote time to it, I have developed a confidence in what I do every day and why I do it. I feel more secure than ever.

    Once you achieve this sense of freedom–which comes WITH the feeling of giving ourselves security, not necessarily with the “security” we feel in jobs that rely on another entity to keep us around–it’s hard to imagine never taking that step. I don’t ever wonder what life would be like if I had stayed; I pretty much know I would just feel stuck as I did before I left.

    Now the only things that I wonder about are what adventures I’m going to create for myself next.

  • Deborah Grandinetti says:

    My experience has taught me that there is no security in externals. I am working entirely freelance–as an inner city youth mentor co-creating programs with a philanthropist, and as a book “architect,” coach, editor, ghostwriter, etc. I seek my security by daily realigning myself with the Grand Intelligence inherent in Life. Meditation and open-hearted welcoming of what is–and what I can learn from it–and where I might serve–lead me to the ideas that generate income to support my material needs.

  • Bassam Tarazi says:

    Live. Love. And Never Stop Learning.

    I find security knowing that I’ll be dead one day and none of this will matter. So the stresses I typically put on myself are usually make believe and the fear I feel is typically the fear of what OTHER people are going to think. People whom I’ve never met, nor ever will.

    Once I squash all I that, I realize all that matters is being true to myself and surrounding myself with people that support and challenge me in a healthy manner.

    Those are security to me: The awe of being alive, and sharing that wonder with those I trust.

  • Sutton Parks says:

    Recessions are cyclical. To create more security financially I started a cleaning business, I play music in clubs, speak and sell my book and have an occasional part-time job. This creates several revenue streams for me. If one dries up, there is still more coming in. It is more secure than relying on just one job.

  • Melanie Ormand says:

    Once again, thought-provoking post, Chris!

    Security comes from within, not outside of, yourself. With Divine help (whatever you choose to believe in, in that arena).

    That means we each must make our own way, as in creating our own jobs, families, homes, tribes, lives, etc. This requires a lot of unending effort, which stops most people dead in the track of their family-of-origin programming.

  • Nicki says:

    I <3 Herb!

    And the comments are as good as the post. I love them!
    I went from my 14 year corporate job (8 years spent working at home) to doing daycare (so I could be here while my youngest is still here) and now I'm jumping out of the nest again, with "nothing" in particular lined up and lots of little seeds of mine growing.

    My own security is in my crazy belief that a net will appear, as it always has, and in my idea that the world is safe, money is not happiness, and love is actually the most important thing in the world. If I do something I love, the money will follow. I know some people would love to see me fall on my face to prove to me that I "need" to have a "normal" job, be owned by a company, have credit cards in order to build credit, blah blah blah, but I don't mind. I'm perfectly happy in our cash only way, no car payment or mortgage lifestyle, and if I were a betting girl I would put ALL of my eggs in the basket that says everything is going to be fantastic for me.

    Responsibility is great that way.

  • Chris Jordan says:

    Security (or stability…) is a state of mind, not a job.

  • Brett Henley says:

    Truth my friend. Security is purely perception driven, i.e. we think we know what it means when we have it, and we want it – despite not knowing it’s true nature – when we don’t have it.

    Politicians are paid to build promises on future sinkholes. I just wish people would stop listening and waiting for an answer that will likely never come, and start focusing energy on positive, proactive movement.

    BTW, it was great to see you briefly at Geisha during SXSW. I know Michelle Anderson (mediachick) really loved connecting with you as well.

    Best of luck in your travels/adventures … looking forward to the book launch.

  • Kimanzi says:

    Amen Chris. The only job the government creates are the ones that help raise the national debt. BUSINESS creates jobs and when we keep taxing the life out of business, less jobs are created.

    I’m really looking forward to this book, it’s exciting to read inspiring stories.

  • Angela Marchesani says:

    This post alone is inspiring, but the comments are amazingly energetic and activating! I find myself nodding furiously at what others have written and feel so grateful for the shared experiences of those who have broken free of the “mold.”

    I have a Master’s degree, and i do work in the field, but… at about 60% of the income I expected. It’s not enough to support myself and my child, and I have to rely on so many other people and services to make ends meet. Additionally, I’m drawn to other work now and that’s where my heart really is.

    The blessing in this situation is that I’ve realized that there IS no security.

    I’ve never been one to take a flying leap, and as the single parent of my son, I have to admit that fear often holds me back.

    But I am now open to considered creative solutions outside the world of the full-time employee. And I do have faith that I can make it happen.

    Reading these posts is so affirming… thank you all for sharing!

  • Lynn says:

    “Spoiler: aside from directly paying people to work, there isn’t much they can do.”

    Super Spoiler: Yes, there is something else they can do…make you a slave. And they are almost there.

  • Brad Teare says:

    I got a review copy of your new book via Amazon and I am happy to report that I love it (I’m about 3/4 way through). Thanks for putting the book together and I will be a little more attentive to your blog. I agree completely with your ideas bout job creation. I appreciate your insights.

  • Antonia Lo Giudice says:

    I worked in a big corporation in Canada for over 10 years. I was leading individuals to reach their full potential both in their professional and personal lives. A structural change lead to one day being met by my boss and giving me feedback on not taking disciplinary actions with my teams. You see, when you encourage someone to try different things, to exceed their limits, there is always a learning curve. I believe that we learn and grow from our mistakes. Now, i was asked to give disciplinary actions for these mistakes….It was the best thing that could have happened to me!!!! I was given an opportunity to take personal responsibility to create my own “job”. I knew that the situation would not change around me, so, I made a change…I went all out:) From my past traveling experiences, I knew there was so much out there I wanted to experience. So, I quit my job, sold everything (house, car, furniture…) and left for South America. Today, I am working on writing my book and have launched website to continue doing what I love most. Inspire others to make a change…If I may add Chris, your book has inspired me so much in my journey:)

  • Andrea Ballard says:

    I find my security by sticking with what I love. What I know, what I am good at, that all changes. What I love is something that is always present regardless of the economy or an employer.

  • Anne-Sophie Reinhardt says:

    My security is in creating my own life, my own career without having an employer that could fire me any minute. My security is in working hard, being smart, learning, evolving and listening to the people’s needs. My security consists of doing something, anything every single day that will boost my business and moving it one step closer to massive success. I will never give my security and my life to an employer.

  • Martin Gray in NZ says:

    Thanks Chris for this piece: someone who couched me a while back said:” we are motivated by 2 things: Freedom or Security. If you choose security, then you will never have either”. After more years (17) outside of regular career than I spent in them, I have learned that my ability to thrive and survive and chop and change (without steady job, income, mortgage, societal identity etc) is a Freedom which gives me Security, in a world that offers no security. Funny that, how societies on all levels seek to create a sense of permanence, predictability, security, safety etc……My experience says it doesn’t actually exist: even the greatest of man’s accomplishments will in time be eroded by the natural cycles of decay.

  • Leslie Ann says:

    Even on it’s worst day being on business for myself is better than working for anyone else under any circumstances. For me, there is great pleasure in living my passion every day, making my own way, in my own way.

  • Joe Sweeney says:

    We must feel security in order to take risk. We must take risks in order to succeed.

    Security to me in its most simple building blocks is build of:

    1. A positive mindset and outlook
    2. My network – positive associations – loving friends & family – mentors and coaches
    3. Growing mentally, physically, spiritually and/or financially every day.
    4. Continuously updating my skill set
    5. My health – exercise, yoga, eating well, getting enough sleep are priorities. My health is my wealth.
    6. Learning from mistakes and setbacks

    With those six things you can take all my money, security and possessions and I could start over again and rebuild from scratch. I know this because it has happened and I came back even stronger than before. Those six are crucial.

    Great post and safe travels Chris!

  • Heather says:

    My husband was laid off during the economic downturn, while I was pregnant. He came up with a really cool idea for a job, applied for one of Obama’s stimulus grants, got it, and after a year of demonstrating the promise of his idea, he now makes well over $50k and has hired a staff of 8 (none of which is on a government grant).. So… Totally I’m with you about being creative and aggressive, and having your butt firmly in your own hands, but I’ve got to admit Government CAN play a direct role here in creating jobs, in this case by giving him a chance to prove it.

  • Melanie Smithson says:

    My security lies in knowing that I am competent to handle whatever arises. And that there are people in the world who love me very much!

  • Kate says:

    I admit that being your own boss can be a good way to go, but not everyone has that skill and when I say try harder I mean grow. Learn something new and apply it. I never got to finish my degree out, but I work in Marketing and for me it was just gaining skills that others in my industry didn’t have. I got lucky in some ways, but a lot of it was just hard work and I like my job I get to work in Digital with YouTubers and it’s laid back and awesome I can’t complain. You know what they say “When the going gets tough, the tough get going” and for me when it got tough I mean living with no money having to do things I didn’t want to do to survive that’s when I was strong enough to work harder. It sucks I hit rock bottom, but it changed the world to me. Everything was no longer “think of starving children in africa” they have it worse it was no longer hating on the rich it was about me and my survival and that really pushed me to get me to where I am. Take from it what you will, but I turned out better for my hardships and my bad decisions.

  • Stephenie Zamora says:

    By taking total responsibility for my life. I feel completely in control of my income, my happiness and my health. It’s a very powerful place to be and I work to teach others to do the same in their own life. I think mindset is a HUGE piece of creating this kind of security in your own life. Far too often I work with people who limit themselves based on what is in their life right now… rather than seeing all the possibilities that lie before them. I love working with them to see and create possibility in their lives, all while maintaining MY freedom and security. Great post as always! xo

  • Patrenia says:

    Where is my security? In God and myself. I know that in him ALL things are possible…no matter what comes my way. Over the last several years, that thought process has been tested. BUT I just keep going. I hope you are enjoying your current trip! 🙂

  • Craig says:

    Chris I like this post a lot and I think there is a shift from people not only investing in their academic knowledge but also into their skills. The idea that blue collar is not a dirty word but rather freedom and the ability to start up their own business. Yoga, mechanic, coaching, initiative (as a skill) are all great examples of people taking responsibility of their own earnings and destiny. There is a song by a band in Canada called Spirit of the West that has a line in a song “There is no ace in the hole. There will be no garden party when you’re 65.” The whole idea of that the government or your job won’t take care of you. You need to. That is really more and more obvious everyday

  • Bradford Glass says:

    For much of my childhood and adult life, I was taught that security was attained by “having it all.” Only through years of NOT having it all have I discovered that true security is in “having what it takes” instead. This is no doubt your point in your “create your own job” idea and book, with which I [now] identify most clearly. Thanks, Chris.

  • Peter Paluska says:

    Yes! “Creating jobs” is one of the oldest political tricks in the book. It’s nothing but an empty promise, a mirage, a bill of goods that ain’t no good!

    “Security is an illusion.” -Deepak Chopra

  • Monique says:

    Politicians can create jobs indirectly. They can propose laws that prevent US companies from shipping the jobs overseas to where the salaries are lower, and also laws that prevent corporations from reaping profits without putting those profits back into the country of origin. This is why the middle class is disappearing. It’s that the jobs that are being created are not being created here at home and no one is stopping this from happening. We the voters can do this.

    That said, I do admire those who take their careers in their own hands and who work for themselves. It does take gumption and courage. I haven’t gotten there yet, but it is something I want to do.

  • Tomasz says:

    Simple, people got suckered into the American Dream and politicians keep pushing it still even though that idea is like 50 years old.

  • James Cornell says:

    The only place I find security is in the present moment. Not in the future, not in my accomplishments or my bank account.

  • moom says:

    Politicians can certainly have a big effect on the creation of jobs – in the long run more on the quality than the quantity of jobs through the framework they create that companies and individuals have to comply with. There is a huge difference between countries in this regard that to a large degree is the result of different policy decisions in each country. In the short-run politicians and the central bank can have a big influence on the number of jobs too.

    Myself, I’ve worked hard to get a PhD and a strong track record in my field and am now a full prof at a top university where what I work on is largely up to me, though I have to also do a bunch of admin work and there is less flexibility in teaching than in research. Firing a full prof here is pretty hard and if you are good performer it really won’t happen… My main risks now are from illness etc.

  • Meg | One Love Meg says:

    I am about to start a big trip around the world. I am curious if I will ever feel secure during that time or if it will take getting home to feel that sense of comfort. My long term goals include being a teacher, and maybe I need the job to make me feel secure. We will see. I think when you travel it takes awhile to finally feel secure.

  • Sarah Athanas says:

    I’m about to take the leap and leave my salaried job in two weeks! I’m scared for sure. But I get security knowing that if I put a fraction of the energy into my passion that I am currently investing in my bosses passion, I will get somewhere. And if I fail, at least I can close the door knowing that I threw everything I’ve got on the table.

  • Wanda Hopkins McClure says:

    Thought-provoking post and great comments. I’m moving in this direction; feeling my way through the creative space. Thanks for your insights. Can’t wait to read the book.

  • Ame' says:

    HaHa ~ As the candidates “stand-up to China,” I find my security through my job in China. There is a great shortage of foreign English teachers here, and it’s my job to find and recruit new ones. If you’re interested in teaching, check out the website. It’s an adventure and a good job rolled into one.

    I never realized how much I’d grow to love China when i moved here a little over a year ago. I’ll move on eventually. For now, I’m right where I’m meant to be, and I believe God will open the next door when it’s time.

  • Darlene says:

    Security? I make my own, always have. It obviously hasn’t been a priority for me most of my adult life as I’ve run my own businesses in one form or another since 1991. After a divorce I took a “job” but as a sub-contractor/sales rep that still gave me freedom within my day and didn’t feel like a real job. But I had lost the security I had felt in a marriage and business we shared so I turned to the job temporarily (9 years) then I was ready to move on again.

    I guess I’m more about controlling my own destiny. I don’t feel there is security in a job. People get laid off, businesses close or fail, and you’re right back to square one. No I’d rather reply on myself, at least I know what the boss has planned. 😉

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