They own your work; they own you! -- Make Everything [Your Own]
The following is an excerpt from The 50th Law, adapted for HuffPost.
When you work for others, you are at their mercy. They own your work; they own you. Your creative spirit is squashed. What keeps you in such positions is a fear of having to sink or swim on your own. Instead you should have a greater fear of what will happen to you if you remain dependent on others for power. Your goal in every maneuver in life must be ownership, working the corner for yourself. When it is yours, it is yours to lose -- you are more motivated, more creative, more alive. The ultimate power in life is to be completely self-reliant, completely yourself.
You came into this life with the only real possessions that ever matter -- your body, the time that you have to live, your energy, the thoughts and ideas unique to you, and your autonomy. But over the years you tend to give all of this away. You spend years working for others -- they own you during that period. You get needlessly caught up in people's games and battles, wasting energy and time that you will never get back. You come to respect your own ideas less and less, listening to experts, conforming to conventional opinions. Without realizing it you squander your independence, everything that makes you a creative individual.
Before it is too late, you must reassess your entire concept of ownership. It is not about possessing things or money or titles. You can have all of that in abundance but if you are someone who still looks to others for help and guidance, if you depend on your money or resources, then you will eventually lose what you have when people let you down, adversity strikes, or you reach for some foolish scheme out of impatience. True ownership can only come from within. It comes from a disdain for anything or anybody that impinges upon your mobility, from a confidence in your own decisions, and from the use of your time in constant pursuit of education and improvement.
Only from this inner position of strength and self-reliance will you be able to truly work for yourself and never turn back. If situations arise in which you must take in partners or fit within another organization, you are mentally preparing yourself for the moment when you will move beyond these momentary entanglements. If you do not own yourself first, you will continually be at the mercy of people and circumstance, looking outward instead of relying on yourself and your wits.
Understand: We are living through an entrepreneurial revolution, on a global scale. The old power centers are breaking up. Individuals everywhere want more control over their destiny and have much less respect for an authority that is not based on merit but on mere power. We have all naturally come to question why someone should rule over us, why our source of information should depend on the mainstream media, and on and on. We do not accept what we accepted in the past.
Where we are naturally headed with all of this is the right and capacity to run our own enterprise, in whatever shape or form, to experience that freedom. We are all corner hustlers in a new economic environment and to thrive in it we must cultivate the kind of self-reliance that will help push us past all of the dangerous dependencies that threaten us along the way.
Think of it this way: dependency is a habit that is so easy to acquire. We live in a culture that offers you all kinds of crutches -- experts to turn to, drugs to cure any psychological unease, mild pleasures to help pass or kill time, jobs to keep you just above water. It is hard to resist. But once you give in, it is a like prison you enter that you cannot ever leave. You continually look outward for help and this severely limits your options and maneuverability. When the time comes, as it inevitably does, when you must make an important decision, you have nothing inside of yourself to depend on.
Before it is too late, you must move in the opposite direction. You cannot get this requisite inner strength from books or a guru or pills of any kind. It can only come from you. It is a kind of exercise you must practice on a daily basis -- weaning yourself from dependencies, listening less to others' voices and more to your own, cultivating new skills. As you progress on this path, you will find that self- reliance becomes the habit and that anything that smacks of depending on others will horrify you.