It was the drive into work that did it, Monday morning, rain lashing down. The all-too-familiar rectangular buildings rose up in front of me as I approached the entrance to my office. An internal list ran over in my head.
“Got to read that report before the 9.30 meeting”
“Must email that client back as soon as I get to my desk”
“Is he going to be difficult again when I ask him to complete that task?”
And in that small list, I can summarize the make-up to my day: Presentations, meetings, discussions, negotiations, office politics, emails, client relations. It wasn’t that those things bothered me. But they didn’t inspire me; I can’t say I was bursting with excitement at the thought of a presentation I was going to have to sit through showing performance graphs.
Quite simply, I had no passion for it.
It’s only now, several years after I left the corporate world to pursue my dream of starting my own business that I understand what the problem was. A corporate job, indeed the entire corporate world, is the opposite of creativity. And it is that deep-seated desire for humans to go and create that means the corporate world is something many of us feel at odds with.
My experience of the corporate world was one tied to procedures, politics and formalities. Meeting topics could be dominated by discussion over what restrictions we’d put in place to formalize how our teams could communicate to customers. Relationships were built not from a mutual respect and desire to support colleagues but the complex politics that goes with people wanting to advance their career. Creative, potentially risky, ideas were shunned in favor of a desire to adhere to best practice. I have no criticism of any of it. As corporations grow, they need to operate in a particular way. They can’t afford to be too risky, too creative, or too edgy. They have reputations to protect, staff to retain, and profits to make.
But that rigid approach to the office world is the reason why, over that 12 years, I went from a bright-eyed enthusiastic graduate to someone rather more cynical, jaded and lacking in passion. I just didn’t fit the mold.
So I decided to quit, and I launched my own business instead.
I won’t lie. Running a business is full of scary moments, lots of unknowns, a huge amount of mistakes and chaos at every turn. But it is also something I’ve been able to do every day with enthusiasm and passion. It’s allowed me to throw out the rule book and just graft away at making a success of something raw and unpolished. My days are filled with newness and learning: trying to create the perfect image to go with a new ad campaign, thinking of something witty to add to my business Facebook page, or choosing new products to go on my website. It’s full of variety, challenges and ideas. I feel like I’ve woken up after falling into a deep sleep for 12 years. And though my business is still a fairly new sapling and I have many challenges ahead, I don’t miss the dependable world of corporate employment at all.
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