Whether you work for yourself or someone else, this is one of the most important critical thinking questions you can ask yourself. Watch this short video I recorded in Ohio and I’ll look forward to your comments.

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Steve Siebold
Author and Professional Speaker since 1997. Past Chairman of the National Speakers Association's Million Dollar Speakers Group. Author of 11 books with 1.4 million copies in print.

16 thoughts on “The Million Dollar Question”

  1. Hi Steve, I do consider myself as self employed! I am according to my tax return but I love what you said about it being a mindset. I have found that 100% accountability is the best policy for me. If things aren’t going the way I want them to go then I am responsible for changing.
    Thanks Steve.

  2. I became a manager of a small business. I referred to the business in terms of “Our Company” in conversations with the owners. They gave me increased capital outlay. I didn’t need to explain the details due to their confidence in me. The business income tripled within 30 days.

    I was practicing to be the owner of a business without risk of my capital (of which I had none).

    After 7 years the company was being considered for sale. I quit the job and opened my own business. My company never had a negative result in 30 years from day one.

    I support Steve’s contention that we as employees should be striving and motivated in our current positions to act the part of the “self employed”.

  3. Its a good mindset to have and practice. Its basically taking ownership and not passing the buck around.

  4. Very good post Steve! It’s been my experience in working with many people from around the world that most are average performers. In other words, most of the people are happy working for someone, earning a paycheck but not taking personal responsibility for what happens to them. In my mind, this is a false sense of security and a mentality of scarcity that’s operating at a lower level of consciousness!

    From time to time, I do get the pleasure of working with world class performers. They tend to accept responsibility for all that happens to them and know that their success or failure is up to them. They view themselves as self employed – even if they are on the payroll of the company they represent! I never see these individuals pointing fingers and blaming others for their short comings.

    One of the best examples I can think of is Ray Kroc, legendary employee and entrepreneur of McDonalds. Ray was an employee, investor, and self employed as a business owner. Even though he was in all of these positions, his level of consciousness was higher than an average performer, as proven by his actions and success.

    Having worked as an employee for large and small corporations, I can honestly say that my quality of life and overall satisfaction went up when I started viewing myself as self-employed, taking personal responsibility for my actions and not being afraid of being fired by my employer. I believe this mentality made it tremendously easier when it came time to quit my job and pursue my entrepreneurial endeavors.

  5. For me personally, it’s an ongoing battle. I’m always trying to have a self-employment mindset, but I don’t always succeed. I need to remind myself to think like an entrepeneur in order to overcome my past programming.

    In my experience, corporations don’t truly want employees who have a self-employment mindset. There only so many positions available for people with a proactive, ambitious, self-emploment mindset. If your working for someone else, I think it’s more difficult to have a self-employment mindset because of the way you’re treated and because you’re surrounded by people with an employee mindset.

  6. At first glace, I actually thought I was perfectly on the money with this mental toughness secret. I consider myself very good at what I do and a hard worker since day one. What’s funny, is when I really started to pay attention to my thoughts on this one and then to my actions at work, I got a mouth full of Jenny flaws! I started to realize that I was actually very resistant to this secret and I was hiding that behind a very stubborn ego.

    I was battling thoughts of, “well, that is my goal . . . in the future,” “if I were self employed this is not what I would be choosing to do nor is it the environment I would choose to be” and the icing on the cake, “Who cares? I am the boss!” Now, yes, I am a boss at work but by no means am I the boss. Needless to say, this secret serves as the one that put me in my place fast!

    So, what would happen if I were to walk around with the mind set of being self employed? I can definitely say that there are areas where I would work harder (not just in the areas that I like) and I wouldn’t be doing it with a lack of respect, a mild bitterness, and – the hardest part for me to swallow – with the mentality of being a victim (ouch!). It probably wouldn’t feel so hard to do the work and (oh yes, another middle class mentality for me) I wouldn’t procrastinate.

    Where am I at with this now? It’s certainly a work in progress but I have been able to identify the moments when it’s easiest for me to have this mind set and the moments when it is the most difficult. Some days I do great with it and others, not so much. Just this one secret has me growing feet at a time because not only am I trying to do better and be better at work but I’m also having to learn how to forgive myself and get over the perfectionism.

    So, if you think you already think this way and you’re employeed by a company . . . don’t just check your thoughts on this one, check your actions and how people respond to you at work and you’ll have a much clearer answer (and just a warning, you may not like it)! Geez, Steve, why you gotta be so right?! 😉

  7. Steve:

    This was one thing my father tried to teach me, but I didn’t fully grasp right away.

    After WWII my dad worked for many years in commissioned sales – he learned the “self-employment” mindset fast! Even at the end of his working life, when he was a warehouse manager, he still kept that “self-employed” attitude.

    Although he tried to teach this to me, I didn’t “get” this concept when I began my military career. In the first few years, promotions were fairly automatic. As long as you didn’t make a huge error in judgment somewhere, you were going to get promoted with your peers.

    Soon, though, I started to see which of my peers had this “self-employed” mindset, and which didn’t, After going though a series of events, I realized I had unwittingly fallen into the latter group, and I had to work hard to change my thinking.

    When I retired from the service and became a defense contractor, I thought I had this mindset down cold. Promotions and pay increases are all about performance. To advance, you had to perform.

    However, it wasn’t until I became a business owner that I came face to face with what the “self employed” mindset (your definition) is really all about. In my early days in business I struggled – in part because I thought I was performing better than I really was.

    Even today, I really have to watch who I spend time with – because it’s too easy to fall back into old patterns of thinking.


  8. Good Day

    I have been “self employed” for over 30 years. In the last couple of years I have been trying to move my mindset to “business owner”. Simplified version; As a “self employed” individual I trade hours for money – to make more I have to work more; as a business owner I delegate and create systems that are self sustaining that require little of my time. I work less and make more with a “business owner” mindset.

    I appreciate your blog.

    David Gallagher

  9. Having worked for a USA top 50 company, I have always thought directions provided were simply the goals set for achievement. Early on I recognized the difference between “Orders” and “Take Control”. The more I took control the more control I was allowed to exercise. The more control that we exercised the more successful we became. The more successful we became the more responsible was bestowed upon us.
    The more successful we became the more responsibility and control we gave to the departments to control their destiny.
    Managing a company with defined goals and people focused to achieve those goals became a walk in the park. I love the success so much, I never went to “WORK” a day in my life!

  10. Neil hits a great point at the end about employers. I will take it one step further….employers who endeavor to coach and assist employees who believe themselves self employed have an opportunity to do great things together. Those who see themselves as self employed are and have to continue to be strong, confident, bold, and determined. Many employers will challenge the individual mindset of self employment negatively. Heck, “they” sign your check, so you can’t be self employed if you work for them. There is the danger sign for employers who are of the negative mindset. The world class performer CAN stand up to it, but why subject yourself to that environment when if you really want to work in a company, you can go find owners who believe in coaching and assisting their team for mutual advancement.

    Be mentally tough and smart at the same time, if working in a company is your goal, then why not work in one with great leadership?

  11. I’ve listened to Brian Tracy for over a year now (i.e., every day driving to work and back and at home). No one mentioned this concept of “Self Employed” to me, not even on any of my MBA class years ago. Total responsibility is glued with “Self Employed” philosophy. After adapting this philosophy attitude, I began to noticed the change around me particular at work. For instance, being an IT consultant, customers began enjoying my service and assistance they received from my consultation. Although i worked for a company, one of my client asked me if I owned the company I worked for because the commitment and dedication I put in my job was noticeable.

    Tomorrow, I’m starting with a new job for a consulting firm in Sydney. I talked to my self today and say these things: “Being the president of my own company (i.e., Personal Inc.,), the new company has hired me as a consultant to help and grow their business therefore I’m a self employed.

    Using this philosophy of “Self Employed” empowers me and force me to look at myself as external consultant hired by a company who is my employer who is my best customers which empowers me to investment in myself and continue to acquire more skills and knowledge in IT., Sales, Communications, Negotiation etc.,

    Brian Tracy is a genius…and I’m so damn pleased that I stumbled on him while searching for world class self help development few years ago.

    I like your materials too Steve which you put some humor also. If you have some other recommended reading materials or audio books please feel free to email me.


  12. Great question Steve! I reckon it could be worth a bit more than a million dollars. And as a fellow entrepreneur I can tell you that we definitely call ourselves self-employed. No-one else is going to put food on our table.

    Unfortunately, and in my experience, the majority of employee’s are far from having any thought of working with a mind-set or work-ethic of being self employed, and rather are pre-occupied with the thought of… security (an increasingly delusional condition), as well as possessing an ‘entitlement’ mentality,

    I strongly believe that if more people, employee’s in particular, adopted the mindset of the successful entrepreneur (who in the first place creates the opportunities, takes the risks and does the work, among other things) then we wouldn’t have a lot of the economic and social problems that we are currently experiencing.

    Bring-on the employee who views their position as self-employed and performs accordingly, but remember… for those of us who are the employers, endeavor to coach and assist your employees to do so.

    Many have no idea what it looks like.

  13. Go to any job with great motivation to learn as much as possible. Do all that you can to cause your company to have success to meet its goals. Yes, treat your job as if you were part of the ownership to seek self improvement along the way. There is a great benefit derived from that kind approach in your job. Your bosses could then look to you as a person of great value. You would demonstrate honesty and trustworthiness to your bosses. Your bosses will win. The customers and the public would win.

    You would then be able through your own expertise be a successful businessman to have the ability to be the entrepreneur. You would then be the greatest winner. You would be able to start a new company with this running start.

    Business acumen has a money value and can be shown as an asset even when applying for bank credit. (A little known fact)

  14. HI.
    Thanks for the reminders – really need them.
    The way we think is pretty much dictates where & how we will be. My not so past situation is a true example of such. Now being aware of what I think about myself, about people around me, about what I want, is a great reminder how much more work I have to accomplish. Again, non-ambitious person wouldn’t come across such video in a first place. Again, we create our future. So happy to know that :-))

  15. Two years ago when I decided not to work for anyone else any more, I began thinking that I was responsible for everything I bring to my life. If I do more, I’ll earn more and if I do less and earn less, I’ve no one else to blame but myself.

  16. I first began to apply this mindset after having learned of it in 177 Mental Toughness Secrets. Like most of the secrets, it’s something I have to constantly remind myself and isn’t yet second nature. However, I think it is probably one of the most freedom-granting beliefs that one can adopt, especially as someone who is an employee. While I’m reasonably happy with my employment to begin with, being a contractor of my professional services grants me a significantly greater experience of freedom, and definitely a greater experience of ownership of my own outcomes. Thanks for the reminder!

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