The Fear Of Having To Go Back To Corporate and How To Avoid It
Far and wide across the global economy, more and more professionals are giving up the corporate life to take a chance on creative and professional freedom – they are becoming entrepreneurs. Many of these men and women share similar stories of days, months, and even years spent asking themselves the same familiar questions:
“How did I end up here? Isn’t there more to life? Why is my work so unfulfilling?”
Fed up with the 9 to 5, the suit and tie, the endless meetings about meetings, these dreamers took a chance on change and opted to build their own businesses, to construct their own empires. They strategized, prepared, and committed themselves to the spiritual and professional transformation that is entrepreneurship in the digital age. And yet, for all the preparation and planning, many of these individuals quickly discover the fundamental truth of dream chasing – it’s pretty damn hard.
Their post-corporate vision, once crystal clear, begins to blur as challenges arise:
“My savings are declining. My family relationships are strained. Judgement from friends and associates is mounting. Ageism is proving difficult to overcome.”
If you’re reading this post, you are likely one of these individuals. You escaped a successful career in the corporate world, and you bet big on your dreams. However, it now appears that your dreams are taking a turn for the worse. You fear for your finances, for your family, and – perhaps most importantly – you fear returning to the corporate world.
I am here to tell you that it’s OK.
You will be fine.
You are not in this alone.
It’s time for you to make an impact on this world, and it begins right now with owning your fears. Through a little hard work, the things that you fear most can evolve into potent catalysts for entrepreneurial growth. All it takes is a basic understanding of why you fear, together with a little help and support from some friends.
Understanding and Redefining Your Fears
Most ventures fail. That much every entrepreneur is sure to know.
With studies suggesting that as much as 75% of entrepreneurial ventures fail within a matter of 10 years, it is no surprise that fear is a recurring theme throughout the entrepreneurial world. And yet, recent research tells us that fear is, in fact, a neutral stimulus – it produces no specific response other than focusing our attention on its source. How we choose to react to a panic-inducing stimulus, however, has the dangerous potential to condition our future behavior in similar circumstances.
Bitten by your neighbour’s dog? Well, it’s not surprising if you now prefer cats. Rough turbulence on a recent flight? Maybe you will stick to driving in the future. Bomb your first presentation to C-Suite executives? It’s conceivable that presentation anxiety could soon follow.
Nevertheless, none of these consequences are 100% certain.
To put it plainly, you can allow fear to inhibit your behavior, or you can employ it as a motivator for future success. And while this may be easier said than done, it is often as simple as redefining the sources from which your fears flow. Research from the Harvard Business Review identifies the most common causes of entrepreneurial fear as the following:
Ability to fund the venture
Personal ability / self-esteem
Potential of the idea
Threats to social esteem
The venture’s ability to execute
There’s a good chance that the thought of any single one of these sources of fear leaves you with your stomach in a knot, your heart racing, and your mind inventing every conceivable worst-case scenario. And yet, it is essential to understand that your ability to rationally react to fear is what separates you as a successful entrepreneur from your life as a corporate drone.
Where the corporate employee thinks “take zero risks,” the entrepreneur thinks “take calculated risks.” Where the corporate employee thinks “it’s more important to look the part,” the entrepreneur thinks “I am committed to being the person I am.” And where the corporate employee worries whether or not he or she is ”the smartest person in the room,” the entrepreneur says, “I can’t wait to fill this room with smart people.”
The point is, your fear of returning to the mundane life of a corporate employee doesn’t define you as an entrepreneur. It’s merely another stimulus/source to which you can choose the appropriate response.
And do you know what the best part is?
It’s always easier to choose the appropriate response with the support of some like-minded entrepreneurial friends.
Perhaps the most critical aspect of learning to redefine your fears is understanding that no successful entrepreneur has ever truly “gone it alone.” In fact, of all the fallacies and myths surrounding entrepreneurship, there is perhaps none greater than the myth of being “self-made.”
It’s the “American way.”
But it is also generally false. Sure, there are likely outliers in the entrepreneurial world who really did come from nothing, inherited zero wealth, and achieved success through nothing more than their own grit and determination. But put these individuals in a room, have a real conversation, and the chances are that you will learn the truth – they didn’t get there alone. Even the most successful and influential entrepreneurs in the world (i.e., those individuals we aspire to emulate) achieved success through a community of peers, family, friends, and mentors. They asked for help, discovered the tricks of the post-corporate life, and, most importantly, learned to conquer and redefine their fears.
Now it’s your turn.
No matter how talented you are as a corporate escapee, you will always benefit from being a part of a legitimate community of like-minded entrepreneurs. Your dream will soon become a reality as your community helps you redefine and conquer your fears (financial, family, social, or otherwise) with the following powerful tools:
Knowledge – receive mentorship from those who have been in your shoes, avoid common mistakes by learning from the experiences of others.
Connections – improve your professional network, find the resources you need for success, fill the room with smart people.
Friendship – avoid the loneliness of the path less travelled, overcome your social fears by connecting with people who see the world from your window.
Remember, the world can be a lonely place; the entrepreneurial world even more so. Without having done it themselves, no one can truly understand what it takes to achieve entrepreneurial success in a post-corporate life.
Don’t “do it alone.”
Join a community of like-minded entrepreneurs that can help you redefine your fears and get you moving on the path to post-corporate success.
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