Before retiring in 2009 I traced my work career and found I had worked with 25 different companies in 17 different industries. Notice I did not say that I worked “for” 25 different companies. What’s the difference you ask? It’s pretty simple.

If you are working “for” someone you are only making his or her dream come true. If you are working "with" someone then both you and your employer’s dreams can come true. Let’s break it down further.

Working for Someone

People who work for someone show up, do the work, and go home. The next day they repeat the same process. If they get a raise that’s good if they don’t it’s usually someone else’s fault. For these unhappy people work is a dead end job with little incentive to improve or work their way up the income ladder.

They settle into a comfort zone where they exist rather than prosper. They may have been hired at the entry level with promises of more money as their skills improve and usually they do move up a level or two but in many cases they plateau and move no farther. Two years becomes five and five becomes ten and living paycheck to paycheck becomes a life sentence.

Working With Someone

People who work with others have a totally different mindset. Their job is a means to an end. People who work with others have goals outside the workplace but the workplace is the conduit to make the employees dreams come true. If the owner of the company happens to make out too, then so much the better.

Why Do People Work in The First Place?

We work because we have obligations that require income — Rent, food, clothing, utilities etc. But there are other things too. It might be saving for college, buying a home, starting a family or helping a charity.

People who work with others have a motivation to attack their jobs. They realize that taking ownership of your job is the best way to move up the income ladder. While it’s true that someone else is signing the front of your paycheck you are the one responsible for what happens under your watch. You need to become the owner of that job.

When they see things that don’t seem right they question. If they see an easier or more efficient way of doing a job they present an alternative. This is how people move from the mail room to the boardroom. Not to make the company better, although these workers often have a higher level of loyalty, but to make their personal dreams come true. To make their personal goals happen.

 Some Final Thoughts

When I worked as a personnel manager I always had an employment application with me. When I found an employee anywhere that really “get’s it,” I would ask them if they are happy working where they are. Most would sheepishly tell me they were looking. I would give them the application. If they were happy I wouldn’t.

Everyone I know who is working with a company is, by definition, self-employed. Everyone who works for someone will never make it to the boardroom and maybe for him or her, that’s not a goal. But if an addition to the house or college for the kids is in their dreams that can’t happen working for someone. When you take ownership of your job you take ownership of your life and you can work anywhere with anyone. If you win, then the employer also wins, not the other way around. When you show up for work tomorrow think like an owner — not a worker. Take ownership of your job.