When in the course of economic events, it becomes manifest that traditional work arrangements stifle innovation, reward timidity, devolve into nothingness, and offer at best a perilous prosperity, it becomes necessary for citizens of conscience and talent to break free from that decaying tradition and declare their independence.
And so we, the working women and men of America, declare ourselves free agents - and declare these truths to be self-evident:
Unify and conquer!
Who we are and what we do should not stand on opposite sides of a psychological divide. So for us, work is personal! We are committed to unifying our personal interests and our business interests, our lifestyles and our work styles - because we fundamentally believe that we will be happier and more productive if we work and live as whole people.
When nobody has security, everybody deserves freedom.
Nothing is permanent. Security is an illusion. A work life based on workplace insecurity is no work life at all. So we choose the freedom to be ourselves and to follow our interests. And we are discovering that, in an economy of opportunity, freedom promotes security. The more we work in our own best interests, the more secure we become.
The power to choose is the power to say no.
As free agents, we are choosing our own work paths - choosing the clients we want to work with and the projects we want to work on. And we are distinguishing ourselves from our colleagues in the old workplace by reserving the right to say no! No to clients who are hard to work with, who underpay us, who ask for proposal after proposal (but never hire us).
Fear has no place in Free Agent Nation.
We've spent too much of our working lives running scared - scared that we'll be laid off, yelled at, or blamed for something that wasn't our fault. And what have we learned? That fear doesn't motivate us for long; eventually it impedes our performance. Top performers become great by playing in their own terror-free zone.
The fun in work is the reason for work.
As free agents, we are not afraid of hard work. In fact, many of us work too much! But we like to work for the right reasons. And we no longer work for the wrong ones. The free agent work ethic: if we're going to spend half our lives working, we insist that the work be fun - serious fun.
We're on our own, but we're not alone.
In declaring ourselves free agents, we've cut our ties to the large companies that were once the dominant institutions in the world of work. But we are still part of a community. In fact, the community of free agents is growing faster than the world of large companies. And our support community is growing as well: professional associations, learning groups, strategy groups, buying groups. Free agents of the world, unite! Independently, we are all in this together.
A version of this article appeared in the December 1997/January 1998 issue of Fast Company magazine.