The biggest mistake that you can make is to believe that you are working for somebody else. Job security is gone. The driving force of a career must come from the individual. Remember: Jobs are owned by the company, you own your career!

– Earl Nightingale, motivational speaker

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, our lives seem to be disappearing beneath a tidal wave of stress and overwork. We enjoy the highest standard of living in history, yet we feel that our fundamental human happiness is at an all-time low. Employees of large organizations feel this acutely, and they are worried their security, happiness, and value are controlled by others.

This trend has reached crisis proportions, and threatens the very existence of large organizations. American workers are in too short supply and have too many alternatives to be wasting their lives in unfulfilling jobs.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to return to the previous century when job security provided for each individual during the course of decades. Global competition is fierce and always increasing. The very existence of government and non-profit organizations is also being questioned. Pressure from small, nimble startups will force constant cost cutting and strategic rethinking. Significant functions are being restructured or outsourced.

Comfortable employment agreements for long-term job security between workers and their employers have permanently disappeared. Organizations are no longer able to afford this luxury in a time when cost pressures are constantly increasing.

For those who choose to recognize it, a new employment agreement is arising. Actually, it is not new at all––it always has been the way business works. The agreement is simple.

Organizations will attempt to keep the workers it perceives are the most valuable.

Simply stated, this means if you provide continuing value for your employer, you probably will be provided with job and learning opportunities during the course of many years. This is the way business works. Employers realize they have a significant investment in their employees, and business success always lies with retaining their top workers. The same is true for any organization that understands its workers are the way to accomplish its mission.

So where do you find job satisfaction? One-hundred years ago, only the wealthy few could expect to find any kind of fulfillment through their work. Fifty years ago, enlightened companies realized that continued employment with opportunities to contribute led to faithful, satisfied employees. Unfortunately, today’s pressures on companies to break expectations of lifetime employment result in scared, overworked employees. Clearly this is a problem for large corporations that are losing their top contributors to alternate career choices or small, startup businesses.

This is an extremely complex problem for employers, and the solution is not obvious. Some are figuring this out, but many are not. As an employee, you can wait for the answer to appear by enduring the pain and suffering in the interim, or you can take action by addressing your own personal fulfillment needs within your organization.

The philosophy for doing this is simple.

You create your own job satisfaction.

This means you cannot rely on your employers to give you all the answers, if indeed they ever could. You need to take actions to ensure you have motivating work, enjoy the environment and your co-workers, and do not overwork yourself and ignore your personal goals. Peter Drucker explores this concept in his excellent article, Managing Oneself.

Five years ago, I restructured my thinking and career planning around this principle, and the change was startling. During this time, my employer experienced increasing turmoil. I focused on my purpose and goals, and continued to be valued by my managers. For me, this yielded deep fulfillment––not only in my so-called “leisure” activities––but also on the job.

The secret to job satisfaction is simply the intersection between two simple concepts. The first is that your employer needs value from you or the organization will not be interested in giving you jobs and opportunities for growth. The second concept is that you need things from your employer––reasonable income, interesting jobs, worthwhile contributions, and stimulating learning opportunities. When you have these, you are likely to be a productive employee who­ is interested in staying with the company for the long term.

As these concepts intersect and align, we produce a win-win result for everyone. It is difficult to maintain this state of alignment during the course of many years, but it is well worth the effort. This is how you find purpose, stability, and happiness in your job.

Ideally, there should be a huge intersection between your needs and the company’s needs. When this happens, you will find it is much easier to be energized by your work and the organization’s values. You will have flexibility and continue to find interesting challenges for many years.

It is common for people to never feel as if they have found this “sweet spot.” If you are experiencing stress and lack of job satisfaction, then this book is for you. It will give you some ideas, help you take control of your own job satisfaction, and create a win-win relationship with your employer.

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