Discipline: Being Your Own Boss
Let’s take a close look at the subject; “Discipline: Being Your Own Boss.” It totally aligns with the “Just Third Way” philosophy of Own or Be Owned. Being your own boss takes “self-discipline”. In other words, self-control, personal responsibility and constant improvement directed toward our desired goal. Unfortunately, today’s system discourages the spirit of entrepreneurship and the risk and reward of ownership.
We’re taught in school and college to follow directions rather than to question, think critically or become problem-solvers. We’re “educated” to prepare us for work in a particular field, and to meet deadlines and objectives that someone else has set for us. So we do our assignments, take our tests, and graduate (hopefully). Then we’re turned loose to find a job that will pay off our student debt and monthly bills.
If we’re fortunate enough to find a job, we’re expected to show up on time and do what’s in our job descriptions. We do what the boss tells us to do, even when we know that something’s not right or could be done a better way. For most of us, it’s not our job to think of the big picture or the long-term.
In today’s workplace, most of us have no power over how our jobs and financial well-being will meet the challenges of advancing technology and the global economy. When we decide to become our own boss, we gain a measure of power and responsibility over our own outcomes.
For instance, when we start a new business as an entrepreneur, we have to think every day about how to
deliver value to our customers … or we’ll go out of business. We must consider the long-range success or failure of the whole enterprise, and the impact on other people, including our workers and customers.
As servant leaders, we can help guide everyone in a culture and institutional environment of virtue and ownership. It’s about enabling them to become owners sharing fully in the risks and rewards, rights and responsibilities of the company.
A business owner soon learns that being one’s own boss, being responsible to oneself, is a lot more empowering — and intimidating — than leaving responsibility to someone else and being able to pass the buck. An owner quickly realizes that being self- disciplined day in, day out, is crucial to running a business successfully. The habit of self-discipline accelerates our personal growth and ability to succeed in the market place, and thereby reap the rewards of that success.
Yet we need to go one step beyond “self” discipline, to “social” discipline — how our systems can bring out the best in everyone by building virtues like self-discipline into the ecosystem of the enterprise. We need to shape our workplace environment to instill and reward good habits such as responsibility, initiative, honesty, creativity, and courage, not only in ourselves but in others as well.
In running a business, it’s not enough to be the only person who is punctual, responsible, driven toward excellence and delivering the best possible service to our customers. We need everyone in the company to share “ownership” of the company’s success. For that we must become not just bosses, but leaders.
As leaders, we can help instill the virtue of self-discipline in others, enabling them to develop their hidden potential and earn a personal stake in the success of the whole.
But as servant leaders, we can help guide everyone in the organization to create and sustain a culture and institutional environment of virtue and ownership. This goes beyond getting people to “think like owners.” It’s about enabling them to become owners sharing fully in the risks and rewards, rights and responsibilities of the company. That’s where social justice — organizing with others to establish “self-disciplined institutions” — can bring out the best in each of us and help us to succeed together.
William R. Mansfield – Founder of Mansfield Institute for Public Policy and Social Change, Inc.