Like most people in the baby boomer generation, I was raised to believe that I was entitled to, and could have, a better life than my parents. This ‘better life’ has been called ‘The American Dream’. This promise of success and prosperity is the national ethos of our country. The path to that dream was a college degree followed by a ‘secure’ job with a large corporation or government entity. There I would find happiness, fulfillment and a lifetime of job security, followed by a long and comfortable retirement. We were raised to be employees, not entrepreneurs.
Like many of my peers, I found myself an unexpected entrepreneur when the corporation that I worked for ended our long, intimate relationship. I say intimate because some of us were more loyal to our corporate jobs than to our spouses. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, when many of the United States’ landmark, white collar corporations took the crack cocaine of layoffs, a lot of employees became unexpected entrepreneurs. We called this process ‘a resource action’. We could not even bring ourselves to say the word ‘layoff’, the concept was so foreign to anything we thought we would ever have to experience in our own lives.
After spending several months in a feverish job search, I finally landed an interview for my dream job. The organization appeared to be a perfect fit. The interview was going very well. The executive and I developed instant rapport and found all kinds of things to talk about. As he began speaking about the possibility of our working together, a huge knot started growing in the pit of my stomach and I felt a quivering in my heart. No, it was not excitement. It was dread. I realized at that moment that I did not want a ‘job’. However, as a single parent with the looming responsibility of college tuition in the near future, I had a moral obligation to accept a ‘job’, if offered. The executive continued, telling me that he wanted me on his team as soon as I found something in his organization that was a fit for my skills and experience. I felt a huge sense of relief. That executive will never know the important role he played in my entrepreneurial journey.
Three weeks after that interview, I incorporated SmartMoves International, my now almost six-year-old consulting practice. Though my heart had embarked on the entrepreneurial journey, in my habits, my priorities and my perspectives, I was still and employee. I thought my ex-husband was just making a bad joke when he accused me of ‘bleeding blue and white pinstripe blood’. But he was right. The past five years have been like a very long period of withdrawal and recovery from the drug called corporate employeeism. Getting it out of my system has been painful and difficult. Yet the ultimate recovery has brought freedom, enlightenment and a new perspective on life. I now understand the intellectual, emotional and practical business transitions necessary to shed one’s corporate skin and become an entrepreneur.
As an entrepreneur, I am always in problem solving mode. Problem solving is the practical application of creativity and innovation to a challenge that you are facing right now. Entrepreneurship is a serial string of opportunities disguised as challenges. Therefore, I see opportunity everywhere and have learned to be open to new possibilities. My appetite for risk and tolerance for uncertainty has increased tenfold. I now live by the ten magic words of entrepreneurship, ‘If it is to be, it is up to me.’ I am proud of my journey and proud that my battle scars have given me knowledge and wisdom that I now use to help my clients on their entrepreneurial journeys.
Are you still wearing your corporate skin? Do you want to learn how to shed it? Contact me to schedule a coaching session. Or sign up for my newsletter. I offer a seminar on Shedding Your Corporate Skin several times a year or upon request for a group of 8 or more.