How do you leave the comfort of a corporate job?

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Alright, now we are getting to the meat of things.  My dear friend John just wrote this comment about my earlier post Posting a big vision is scary!.

"Ok, I’ll bite. I’ve returned back to cubicle nation to stash cash for my next run at a solo career. But I’m tempted by the nice, regular paycheck, benefits, etc. I feel like I’m getting addicted to Lazy-Boy lifestyle. So the big trade off is giving up a relatively sure thing for a higher risk venture (which by the way I’m still trying to identify). If I was single, no problema. But married with kids in CA? Gotta stop to think. My struggle is that practicality has overrun big audacious vision, so much so that vision has become more like a walk in heavy fog (unless of course somebody is willing to pay me LOTS of money to eat chocolate!)"

John, since you are a seasoned blogger, I am sure you won’t mind if I analyze your situation in a public forum.  Who knows, Dr. Phil could be next for you.  Here are the thoughts I pull from your post:

  • The comforts of a corporate job cannot be underrated.  The benefits are there for a reason – to entice smart and productive people like you to stay and help the company generate more profits. Why do you think that crack dealers give young kids free samples? I don’t mean to correlate all corporate execs to crack dealers, but you have to admit that their means of persuasion are remarkably similar.
  • Staying in a corporate job just for the perks is like marrying someone only for their money.  I happen to know that John has a wonderful, soulful, supportive, beautiful and all-around fabulous wife. He would never choose a shallow life partner because he is a deep person.  So John is what I term the quintessential high-functioning closet entrepreneur.  He knows corporate environments inside and out, but is really meant to work for himself.  I have been trying to get him out for ten years, so maybe this year will be the year.
  • The starting point for John’s path out of Cubicle Nation is definitely answering the question "Who am I, really, and what makes me happy?  Before exploring potential businesses and entrepreneurial activities, you have to get really clear about who you are, what makes you happy and what kind of unique contribution you want to make in the world.  If you skip this step, you will spend years wandering around aimlessly, trying out different business ideas none of which will take root since they don’t have a foundation of clarity and passion.
  • Yes, there will be tradeoffs. Forging out on your own for the first time involves a tremendous amount of work and sometimes money.  But if you get crystal clear about what you want to do, all of a sudden you can start to see alternatives for how to do it.  If you truly could do what you want, spend time with your kids and wife and do something that moved you creatively and spiritually, would you HAVE to live in Silicon Valley where a house the size of a storage locker costs $800,000?
  • What is really important for your kids?  We all know that regardless of how hard we try to be the best parents and providers for our kids, they will probably require therapy anyway.  So forget trying to be perfect.  I agree we need to provide good shelter, healthy food, access to a great education and basic security like health insurance. Mostly, we need to live our lives as an example of what we want for them.  Would you want your child to work in a job they didn’t love?  The more you do what you love, the more expansive your life becomes and the more love you have to share with your kids.

I know I have already gone on too long for an average blog post.  I will continue to write about this topic, and may even pick up this subject for my next Get a Life article in November.

John, as usual, you will be sorry you got me started thinking about this.

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