How the Corporate World Has Changed My View

[LONG POST WARNING!]

Forgive me, I have a lot to say on this topic

Having spent the last 18 months transitioning from the corporate world to entrepreneurship, and coaching others in various stages of the same process, I have seen some common themes coming out about the mindset required to create change in your life and business, to be an entrepreneur, and how the corporate world influences those of us who have spent a lot of time there.

It is not until I stepped out of the corporate world that I could truly hold a mirror up to it and to myself.

Here is what I have found:

1. Consistent and high pressure expense management regimes skew your world view

The fastest way to make money is to reduce expenses - we all know that; but living under a regime of heavy-handed expense management magnifies any beliefs of scarcity we learn from our families and society. Without knowing it, we have lived with messages all our lives about money and its lack.

Try this exercise

Write down all the beliefs or messages you heard from your parents or guardians as you grew up about money. Now, list all those that you have heard in your corporate career. If you're anything like me, you found that the messages are mostly negative and give a sense of constraint,  heaviness, lack, and scarcity.

I find clients wanting to leave their corporate gigs to create their extraordinary life and business, often into entrepreneurship, experience these strong messages. The fear of taking the leap into the next phase of their lives comes from a place of scarcity - that there is not enough to go around (money, opportunities, success, happiness).

Often my clients present the argument that they are afraid to leave to do something that would give them enormous joy and energy because they need the corporate lolly. I have found in coaching that money is almost always a symptom of a deeper issue, for example, that “my self-belief is such that I do not think that I will succeed if I leave this position”. These messages that we have heard consistently through our family and corporate lives stifle any sense of expansiveness, creativity, success, and abundance.

2. Competition is the only way to win

On the back of this belief of scarcity, ideas of “there is not enough to go around” or “once it’s gone, it’s gone” is the belief that we must compete for market share, top performance ratings, etc. The entire corporate system is based on competition, of course. I have learned since leaving the corporate world that there is a more abundant way of approaching life and business.

Focusing on creation is a more abundant way of winning - creating a niche, creating a service or product unique to you, allowing others to work in their space, while you work in yours, or even - and this will rock your world - collaborating to share the magic of creation! It is true that there are regulatory systems that prevent collaboration in the corporate and consumer markets, but some organisations are getting wise to the fact that competing, (and competing usually purely on price), gets nasty and gets us nowhere, opting instead for JVs, partnerships, affiliates, white labeling, etc.

“You get what you focus on”...so focus on abundance and collaboration.

3. Risk assessment skews your thinking

The corporate world is always looking at how to assess their risk, manage it and transfer it - whether it is regulatory risk, credit risk, competition risk, etc. It’s understandable and good business. Certain industries, by their very nature, completely centre around “What is the worst that can happen?” Take the industry I came from and I absolutely loved - insurance. It’s entire raison d’être is to look at the worst that can happen, to assess risk, and provide solutions to manage it or transfer it.

The problem is that this level of detail in looking at the worst case scenario converts into a “glass half empty” mentality on a collective and individual level - a fear-based approach to life and business. It keeps us in the same place, focused entirely on “what if I fail?”

In creating change in our life and business, of course it is important to understand the risks, but “What if I fail?” keeps us standing still, or worse, going backwards. As an entrepreneur too, these words undermine our self-belief in what we are doing and our capacity for success.

4. Innovation is great - provided there is no risk of failure

Most companies like to think of themselves as innovators and leaders in their industry...provided that it comes with little or no risk attached. Fear of failure is pervasive in the corporate world, stifling the innovation most companies purport to encourage.

Again, as someone wanting to create change in our world, and as entrepreneurs, a fear of failure and making mistakes will stop us in our tracks. My mentor says on a regular basis, that the best personal development course is to become an entrepreneur. You WILL fail, but you will also learn, and tweak, and adjust, and re-learn, and continue growing towards success. It’s quite the ride!

5. I’m only as valuable as my performance rating or salary

Pegging your self-worth to a performance rating, salary, or bonus (all set by others) is a killer. It has taken me some time to break this down and understand that my value to myself and others is much greater than an arbitrary performance rating or bonus level. It has been my experience and that of others I have coached that initially it is hard to imagine that we can earn the same or even more outside the corporate world - that really, the level of income in our corporate role was the best we could expect.

It’s not true.

Self-worth is critical to work on - continuously - when you desire to create change and especially if you desire to become an entrepreneur so you find your Zone of Genius, and realise your potential.


I’d love to hear your thoughts and your experience. What behaviours or mindsets from the corporate world do you see influencing you or others? What's holding you back from achieving what you truly desire in life and business?