Look for Autonomy in a Job

Stanley, 82, had a remarkable career as a highly successful entrepreneur. He freely admits he made many mistakes and sometimes lost money (but those, he says, were his best learning experiences).

Looking back over what made him love his career path, he highlighted on key point: Autonomy – the freedom to direct his own work life.

When I worked, I worked seven  days a week if I had to. I have not one regret. I had the one thing that most people never achieve, and that is total freedom. Most people never have total freedom in what they do. I could do what I wanted. I could make decisions, I could make mistakes, but whatever I did, they were mine. There is a satisfaction to that, that you can’t put down on paper. It comes after years and years of doing what you’re doing, and you find out that you really know what has to be done and what shouldn’t be done, and you feel very good about yourself.

And that feeling of success within myself, and that feeling of satisfaction, it’s like nothing else.

The autonomy – most people never understand that. They’re slaves to somebody. This was a gift to me basically from my father, because he was the one who explained it to me, he was the one who started the company, and who instilled in me and my brothers the feeling that when you have this freedom – economic freedom, social freedom – there’s no money that can pay for it. You can’t buy it. You have to earn it, you have to feel it, and you know something? It doesn’t get better!.

3 thoughts on “Look for Autonomy in a Job

  1. Stanley,
    Thank you for your wise words. May I ask what type of work you did that allowed you total freedom?

  2. Hi Edward,

    Unfortunately, the individual elders interviewed in the Legacy Project can’t be contacted individually. However, I can tell you that he began his career in the clothing industry and then branched off into a variety of ventures. Stanley was very honest about how many of those didn’t work out, emphasizing that he learned much from every mistake he made. So he was an entrepreneur. However, we heard about the value of autonomy from many of the elders, whether they worked in organizations or for themselves.

    Thanks for writing in!

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