Many people want to break into the world of entrepreneurship because of the freedom that it espouses. If you are working inside corporate walls, you can often feel smothered, choked and oppressed. As my best friend Desiree likes to say, “you feel the boot of The Man pressed up against your neck!”
The reality is a bit more complex. Your freedom is not defined by the walls you are in, whether they are the soft beige of a cubicle or the cheery walls of your own home office.
Why? Because freedom is not a state of employment, it is a state of mind.
If you truly want to live an “empowered” life – one where you feel strong and secure and joyful and able to take on tough challenges, you first must free yourself.
Don Miguel Ruiz in the book The Four Agreements describes it this way:
“Your whole mind is a fog which the Toltecs called a mitote (pronounced MIH-TOE’-TAY). Your mind is a dream where a thousand people talk at the same time, and nobody understands each other. This is the condition of the human mind – a big mitote, and with that big mitote you cannot see what you really are. In India they call the mitote maya, which means illusion. It is the personality’s notion of “I am.” Everything you believe about yourself and the world, all the concepts and programming you have in your mind, are all the mitote. We cannot see who we truly are; we cannot see that we are not free.”
This manifests most clearly in the way we see ourselves as corporate employees. We say things like:
“My company never lets me express my creative self.”
“I can’t speak my mind in this company or I will get fired.”
“The corporate politics here suck the life right out of me.”
Here is the truth:
YOU choose not to express yourself inside a corporation. YOU choose not to speak your mind. YOU let the life get sucked out of you.
Someone once told me when I got out of a very unhealthy relationship “No one can take advantage of you without your permission.” I remember being quite angry when she said that, since I was still in the state of victim, nursing my wounds from what I perceived to be unfair and cruel treatment. But upon reflection, I realized that it was absolutely true. I alone had chosen to stay in an environment that was unhealthy. Once I got that lesson, I never went back to that unpleasant emotional state, and now have a respectful, loving and healthy marriage.
If you don’t take responsibility for your own actions right now as an employee, nothing will change when you go out on your own as an entrepreneur. You will just replace a few words:
“My company (replace with client) never lets me express my creative self.”
“I can’t speak my mind in this company or “I will get fired” (replace with my customers will leave.)”
“”The corporate politics” here (replace with The headache of managing the details of my business) suck the life right out of me.”
So how to you begin to break free?
When you wake up tomorrow morning, look in the mirror and say to yourself, “I am choosing to go to work today so that I can receive a paycheck and take care of my financial obligations. I am going to learn everything I can today that will help me reach my next goal of opening my own business. If I don’t like what is happening, I can and will change it. I accept any consequences of my actions.”
All this might sound like crazy psycho-babble coming from a true California granola head. I can’t force you to try it, I just encourage you. Taking responsibility for my own career has made me feel truly free and prosperous. When I start to feel oppressed or out of control, I take it as a sign that I am not doing the right thing, remove the boot of The Man off of my neck and move on to the next stage of my business.