Job security doesn’t come from being good at your job

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Job security is a real concern for many of us today. But the tips and suggestions to deliver more, volunteer, mentor, and build relationships are crap and won’t give you job security. Feeling secure does not come from your company. The good news is, you have a lot more control over the place job security does come from. Listen in this week and learn where real job security comes from and how to get more of it. Listen and learn.

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Hey, y’all. How’s it going? All right, Karma got me this week. Um, there was a day this week I really, really didn’t want to work out, but I did, and I was so proud of myself. And I kept telling myself that, and I was telling my friends. And then Karma has a funny way of kind of keeping us humble, I think. Uh, that day, as I was getting ready, I was curling my hair, and I literally smacked myself in the face with my curling iron and burnt myself on the cheek. So, if you’re watching this on YouTube, that’s what that mark is right there. It’s cool. It’s not like I have family pictures on Saturday.

 

I just laughed. I—I literally smacked myself with it. Like, who does that? Welcome to my world, y’all. How are you guys holding up? Okay, today we’re talking job security. And I will warn you, I might rant a little bit today because I got all sorts of fired up. This is actually a topic that came up as I was coaching one of my clients. Um, he was talking about, you know, really kind of feeling stuck but wanting to grow and progress and feeling like he’s always in this, like, “I gotta keep growing, I gotta keep going” mentality because he has a lot of past examples and past history of not feeling safe and secure. So, I’m like, “Yeah, of course that’s going to show up in the workplace. Makes sense.” And I think job security is something ultimately all of us want. It feels great. Um, we’re able to focus, we’re a little bit more productive. And so, I want to talk a little bit about my take on it, which is a little bit different than what you’re hearing from other resources out there. I—I’m a dork. Um, I read a lot of different materials around career insights and helpful hints and tips. And really, because I want to stay in the know on things. And I won’t give the specific details, but I came across this article from a very popular, very well-known, very highly-read and engaged site where they were giving kind of—I don’t know—six or seven tips on how to have job security. And by the end of reading that article, I was so fired up because I was like, “No, no. This is the problem. This is not helping. This is feeding the problem so many people are facing of just feeling exhausted and burned out and continuing to chase and hustle.” So, I want to talk to you today about how I think you should go about trying to have job security in a way that’s not going to be at the detriment of your sanity, of your emotional health, of your balance, of your ability to do things outside of work, and also not mean you have to give up on wanting to be successful and continue to grow. Fair warning, I’ve got some strong opinions today, and they’re coming out because I got the mic. So here we go.

 

Let’s start with the things I did agree on that this article was publishing. So, this was kind of their definition of job security, and I think it’s pretty decent. I line with this. It says, “Job security is the assurance an employee has that they can continue working for their current job for the foreseeable future. It means you’re confident that your employment status with a company can stay consistent regardless of external forces that might impact the business. Job security means feeling safe from factors like layoffs, sudden changes in business performance, or economic factors.” Okay, I agree. Stability sounds like this beautiful thing. Yes, please. Guarantee that I can predict and know what the future holds. Let’s keep it safe. Let’s keep it steady. It’s a wonderful thing when we’re able to have that.

 

Where I disagreed was on the tips that this article is telling you to do to have job security. I won’t go into the details, but here’s just a couple of them: increase productivity, be reliable, minimize distractions, volunteer to do more. It literally said, “Volunteer to do more.” And that’s about when I was like, “Flames were coming out of my head.” Keep learning, mentor and support others, build relationships. Some of these things are great, and I think we should be doing them. But if you’re doing them for the purpose of job security, it is a capital N-O for me. We have got to stop buying into this hustle mentality. Being more productive, volunteering more, trying to build relationships and play the political game, that’s not going to protect you from a layoff when the economy changes and a company can’t afford to keep their employees. You’re just now going to be without a job and exhausted and probably resentful and angry and frustrated. The answer is not more work. The answer is not “Do more, be more productive.” It’s a no for me. If we’re going to keep buying into this, the system is going to continue to operate how it has been. The companies will continue to win.

 

Now, I don’t think most companies are out there truly trying to be mean and vindictive. But guess what? When a company lays off a decent portion of your team and you’re worried about security, so you’re volunteering to do more, you’re trying to increase your productivity, you’re trying to help even more people outside of your normal day-to-day scope and work, the company still wins. They’re still getting what they want with just less people. And they will keep doing that over and over and over again. And if something else happens and they can’t afford to keep you on or they don’t need you anymore, they will let you go. It’s a company. It’s a business. That’s how it’s run. That’s why I say doing more is not where job security comes in. Doing more to try to have job security is where the freak-out comes in. It’s where working crazy hours comes in. It’s where we say yes when we’re already tired and we’re resentful if we’re picking up the slack for other people and doing two people’s jobs. We’re just going to have to keep doing that. That’s us taking the hit for what the company decided to change and do. That’s not creating job security.

 

Now, I can hear some of you out there saying, like, “This is a very privileged view. Some people can’t literally afford to lose their job.” And I acknowledge that. But I’m pretty sure most of you listening to this podcast, while there may be some hardships and you may have to give some things up, you could actually survive if you lost your job. I’m not saying we want to. I’m not saying it’s fun. I’m not saying there wouldn’t be some hard work and some challenges. But most of you are lying to yourselves, telling yourself you have to have this job. If you don’t have a job, you’re totally screwed.

 

Okay, here’s the thing. Security, feeling safe and secure, it’s a feeling. It’s an emotion. It doesn’t come from where you think. It doesn’t come from being a high performer, from working crazy extra hours, from overproducing, from volunteering to do more, from mentoring, from helping, from building relationships. You could do all those things and still get laid off. You could go and do all those things and still not actually feel more secure. Security is a feeling and an emotion. As I continue to talk about that, it comes from you. No manager, no document, no email promising things, no contract, no word said, no project scope, no promotion, no numbers in the bank, that cannot make you feel safe and secure until you give it meaning that you believe that makes you feel safe and secure. Those things are simply existing outside of you. There are no guarantees. The only thing you can guarantee is that you’re going to have yourself and be with you all along the way.

 

We can guarantee and be secure in the fact that you’re going to keep going every day with your brain, with your experience, with your talents, with your gaps, all of you. That is where we can be secure. It doesn’t come from a company or a job or a promise. It comes from within you. Security is already in you today. If this last year has taught us nothing else, it’s taught us there are no guarantees. No matter what is said, companies will change all the time.

 

Now, I do think you should try to have job security. I just don’t think you should try to get it from your company. So hear me out. In that definition of what job security is, it’s an assurance that you’re going to be able to continue to work for the foreseeable future. Guess what? You’re allowed to believe, “I’m going to be able to work for the foreseeable future.” We don’t know if an accident may happen or you might have health challenges. We have no idea of predicting that. But you’re allowed to be secure in your ability to work. There’s millions and millions of different things you could do. That feeling of security comes from believing thoughts like, “I know I can continue working for the foreseeable future. I will figure something out.”

 

You cannot control the economy. You cannot control layoffs. You cannot control companies deciding to shut down and end. You cannot control leaders that make dumb decisions and are emotionally idiots. But what you can control is your belief in your ability to continue working. You know what else you can build security in? The belief that you feel confident that you can deliver. You can do your job. It might take you some time. May not do it perfectly. But when you know, like, in your core, in your bones, like, “I can do this. I can figure this out. I can deliver. You need someone to go and figure this out? I’m your person. Let’s go.” That is job security. When you have built that belief in yourself and not in those external factors that you can’t control, I believe that is the core of where job security comes from. It comes from inside. It’s a feeling based on your beliefs and your thoughts. It does not come from outside of you.

 

And here’s the other really cool thing. When you’re feeling secure about the work you’re doing, guess what? You’re naturally going to work smarter, not harder. You’re going to feel confident enough to say no when you don’t have the bandwidth or to someone that has some random wild hair and tries to increase the scope when you know that’s not an option. You’re not going to play political games. You may still go and build relationships at work, but not because you need that, because you need political allies to feel secure in your job, but because you’re a good person and you like to have relationships at work and it’s fun. When you feel secure in yourself and your ability to work and deliver, you’re going to be able to deliver at your highest, and you’re going to like yourself through it. You’re going to do your job, and you’re going to do it well. When that security comes from inside of you and if things shift and change in the company and it no longer is a good fit, now we don’t freak out. Will we be sad? Will we be frustrated? And then we go and we find another job. Because the security comes from you.

 

Okay, so there’s three things I bet a lot of you are thinking as to why you may disagree with me. First, I hear this a lot of like, “Yeah, it sounds good in theory, but if I did lose my job, I just—I don’t even know what I would do.” Okay, this is a real fear that a lot of people have, this thought of, “I don’t know what to do.” It’s one of the biggest lies I see that we believe that keeps us from feeling like we have job security because guess what? No one knows what you would do. There is no magic solution. There is no magic answer. Everyone is making it up every single day, of every single moment. Because you don’t have an exact checklist, an exact plan, is not a reason to stay stuck and hustle your way into trying to prove yourself that you should stay, that you are good enough, to try to feel secure at work. That’s just going to lead to health problems. You’re going to get ulcers. You’re probably not sleeping well. You probably don’t have great connections outside of work. You probably don’t have a lot of hobbies or doing fun things outside of work because you’re trying to hustle your way into feeling secure about your job. You don’t have to know what you would go and do. You really don’t. Even if you got laid off, you don’t have to know. What you want to do is stay focused on who do I want to be through this process and keep being that person and go figure it out one step at a time.

 

Another belief a lot of folks have that keeps them from feeling job security within themselves is it’s a version of the thought like, “My experience doesn’t really translate, right? Either I’ve been at this company for so long or we do things so differently, like, I just don’t even know what I would do at some other company or some other job.” Again, your brain lies to you all the time, and this is a lie I kind of think in my brain as like this punk teenager and it’s just kind of a brat. It’s like, “I don’t know. This feels hard. I’m tired.” And we think these thoughts like, “I don’t even know how to explain what I do to someone else.” If we believe these thoughts like, “I don’t even know how my experience would relate to any other job. I just don’t get it,” but you know what? This is crap. It’s not true. It’s just an excuse. Stop believing it and let’s go look at the bigger picture. Do you know how to solve problems? Do you know how to experiment your way to figure things out? Do you know how to communicate? Do you know how to work with humans? Can you align teams and help remove roadblocks? What about, are you that person that helps prevent scope creep? Maybe you can code like a wizard. Maybe you can launch really complicated things quickly. Maybe you’re really good at knowing what parts you gotta nail and get perfect and what parts you can do B-minus work at and keep going and move fast. Maybe you’re really good at taking complicated problems and simplifying them into one thing. Maybe you’re really good at inspiring people around you. Maybe you learn fast. Maybe you’re really good at like jumping in and trying when you have no clue what to do and you learn along the way. Maybe you have fun. There’s so many things you do and are great at. Don’t believe the initial excuse your brain is going to tell you of like, “I just don’t know how my experience translates.” That is like your teenager just being a punk. Stop it. I told you I get fired up. I’m sorry.

 

And the third thing that a lot of people believe that kind of keeps them stuck and chasing job security externally, it’s a version of, “Well, I have to do this before I can leave. Before I can go. Before I’m going to be able to go and find that thing where I feel safe and secure.” Usually that fill in the blank is something like, “Well, I have to learn this one particular skill. Or I have to save enough money. Or I want to get promoted for so then I can take that title and that salary change to my next job.” No, you can, but do it because you want to, not because you’re trying to prove your worth and that you feel more marketable and that you’re a better fit. It doesn’t work that way. It’s going to keep you hustling to get that thing. And once you do, if the way you got there was stress and anxiety and overwhelm, I’m telling you, there is no, “I’ve arrived and now all those emotions are gone and now I’m just confident and feeling really safe and secure in my career.” No, how you get there is how you’re going to be. You’re still going to feel worried and stressed and anxious and afraid. Go do the things because it’s fun and because you can, not because you need that external proof to make you feel safe and secure. Security comes when you know you can continue to figure out, no matter what happens. Security comes when your belief and your thoughts and your feelings come from the inputs from you, from inside, from how you show up, from what you do. Not the outputs, not what you produce, not the result it created. Security comes from that belief in how you create it. No one can take that away from you. That is where job security comes.

 

Okay, this is huge and really important. We need you to feel like you are secure in your career. Because here’s the thing, there’s a lot of stuff changing and we need people who are comfortable making it up and figuring it out. We need to change our systems as the world continues to change and as what we used to do doesn’t work anymore. We’ve got to change some things in the work culture so it’s not just this hustle, do more, do five people’s jobs, work crazy hours, be available all the time. But it’s going to take strong leaders like you feel secure in your career and in your job and in the abilities you have to figure it out in order to make these changes. Please, for the sake of all of us, go and build that job security within yourself, not in your employer. And then show up as the amazing human that you are.

 

Okay, y’all, if you want some help with this, this is what I do. I’m telling you, sign up, we’ll get you some free coaching. Let’s figure out how we get you there. You’re going to learn how in the outro of this podcast, but I also want you to know you’re amazing exactly as you are. What I want you to know, you don’t need one more skill, one more title change, one more dollar in the bank to know that you’re amazing. And no one can stop you from producing and delivering and being able to work. All right, y’all, you’re amazing. You got this. We’ll talk soon. If what you’re learning from this podcast is helping, this is just the beginning. Each week, I offer a limited number of coffee chats so that you and I can connect one-on-one and talk specifically about what’s going on for you. You’ll leave this call feeling more hopeful and motivated, but I’m also going to teach you a few things to try right away to get unstuck. Space is very limited and these are free, so grab your spot before they’re gone. Click the link in the show notes or go to lindsaylymancoaching.com/chat and sign up today. You got this.

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Hey, I’m Lindsay Lyman

I spent the last ~12 years growing my career at Amazon. I’ve built teams, launched new products, and created my own jobs. As a certified coach, I teach people how to manage the noise in their head to feel motivated and valued at work again.

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