Law Enforcement Jobs:
Career self-liberation: how ready are you?
Founder, Action Resumes—Pentagon
Career independence in a Post-Good-Jobs Economy
Open your laptop.
Turn on the news.
There will be stories about jobs.
Where are the jobs?”
“Where will new jobs come from?”
“What can we do to create more jobs?”
And: “Can we create
jobs—or is this the new normal?”
And if it is:
Until quite recently, work was packaged inside assembly-line jobs like the ones
in Henry Ford’s automobile plants. To make cars that were affordable to large
numbers of people, he needed to create an inexpensive process of manufacturing
cars. The solution: he hired workers to do precise, repetitive tasks in specific
In the model of employment Ford made famous, having a job became the act of
following instructions about what to do, when to do it, and when to stop doing
it and start doing something else. A job became not what workers were
of doing on their own but what they were
do, because these actions were based on instructions that fit the plans that ran
For several generations during the 19th and 20th centuries, doing a job came to
mean little more than “performing pre-defined actions.” In these jobs, very
little independent thinking was wanted or welcomed. In fact, too much thinking
got in the way.
Thinking about those plans was not a worker’s job.
Soon, Ford’s assembly line model of how work got done was turned on its end,
tilted vertically and became the modern glass-and-steel office building: a
structure for moving data, decisions, and documentation of these decisions
through a corporate bureaucracy. Instead of engines, what were being assembled
were pieces of decisions: about insurance policies, mortgages, all the myriad
legal, financial and data-related facts that drive corporate activities. But the
process was very much the same: precise actions, done according to instructions,
with minimal variations.
Today, although many jobs like those in Ford’s factories remain, our economy is
changing in front of our eyes; and it is changing profoundly. Global
competition, the Great Recession and its “jobless recovery,” the use of
Just-In-Time manufacturing that creates an “inventory” of workers to be called
on only when they’re needed, then quickly sheds them when their tasks are
done—these factors have changed the nature of employment itself.
For workers, getting a job has become the economic equivalent of Russian
roulette. People who rely on jobs for economic security are almost certainly
going to lose them at some point. What’s more, the companies that own these jobs
frequently disappear through mergers, acquisitions, and
outright failure. We all know this. We can all feel the collective shudder as it
rolls through the economy. Workers work harder, thinking it’s the only way to
appear essential in their jobs.
Why do they work harder?
Because it’s the one thing they can do to increase their sense of safety,
thinking that “
I’m safe; the boss knows how hard I’m working.”
result, many workplaces have become fear-driven environments. Through their
overtime and their weekends at the office and all their untaken vacations,
workers keep trying to say: “
No—not me, boss—please, not me.”
Bosses may find the resulting rise in productivity and employee pliability
easier to manage, but companies also suffer from the lack of creative
risk-taking that flows from this fear-driven state of mind. Frightened people do
not innovate effectively. Instead, their mental universe shrinks and they begin
hunkering down, trying to wait things out, hoping everything will all somehow
just go away.
Caught in their fear, however, our entire economy suffers. Shrinking in the face
of major challenges is an understandable human reaction, but it is not likely to
be effective. To grow as professionals, we will have to get beyond our mental
limits. Somehow, we have to inhabit our sense of confidence more fully and fill
it with potential opportunities.
Making ourselves smaller is not the way to grow.
We need ourselves at the outer limits of the best we can see ourselves being and
doing; and we need each other at the same level of excellence and imagined
effectiveness. Somehow, we have get past our fears and summon the courage,
imagination and willpower to make the attempts creators need to make to get from
Here to There.
No one builds these bridges for us. We have to learn how to do it ourselves. We
have to begin that journey on the hard ground of current reality, walk across
our bridge of dreams onto solid ground on the other side. It’s like saying, “
going to run the Marine Corps Marathon,”
and training to the point where we
know that we can run it—and finish.
This is the magic that creators learn to perform: the magic of turning our ideas
into actualities. And in today’s Post-Good Jobs Economy, these ideas and
realities involve being paid for what we do. It’s not a trick in the sense of
being an illusion, but it does involve creating a situation that contains what
you want—and then getting it. In this economy, that’s magic. And, like magic, it
takes practice to pull this off.
The purpose of the next few articles will be to share perspectives, mental maps,
tools and action plans that can enable individuals and small teams to accomplish
this, by giving you ways to practice and tools to practice with—so that, like
magic, it starts looking easy to others who observe, and starts feeling easy to
those who do it.
But to get there, we have to begin at the beginning: with the concepts, ideas,
and vocabulary we are going to use to talk about these activities and
initiatives you can take.
has been a consulting speechwriter for the White House and has
assisted over 5,300 people in advancing their careers. If you have a question,
other people probably have the same question you have. Let’s hear them! You can
reach Gabe at firstname.lastname@example.org