My heart broke as I watched dejected Lehman Brothers employees carry their personal effects out of their offices on Sunday. As much as they were aware of strain in their company, if they are like typical corporate employees, most did not expect the bankruptcy outcome.
I was so fascinated to see this right as I am polishing the chapter of the Escape from Cubicle Nation book on why corporate employees are afraid to leave their jobs to start a business. A very common concern is that their "cushy" situation is as good as it gets, and they would be foolish to leave the "stability" of a corporate job for the "uncertainty" of entrepreneurial life.
I would bet that those Lehman employees who had small gigs going on the side: consulting projects, eBay stores, blogs w/ad revenue, niche products, are feeling a little less panicked this morning.
The New York Times said yesterday (my paraphrase) that now might be a crappy time to leave your job to start a business. (must register to read). (hat tip to Carlos for referring this article)
Yes, things feel quite bleak in the market today.
But, I would argue, if you are sitting back with your head between your knees gripping your corporate job like a favorite teddy bear, you are putting yourself at risk.
I learned from my martial art days that the safest thing to do when under attack is to keep your eyes wide open, ground yourself, leverage your strengths and let curiosity, not fear, be the emotion your opponent sees in your eyes.
Like in any crisis or economic downturn, some people are going to thrive and grow despite the chaos. These are the people who are not afraid to try new things, work on side projects, network like crazy outside of their day jobs, and maintain a balanced and positive outlook on life.
What position are you in, feet firmly planted on the ground with your eyes wide open, or crouched in your chair waiting to see what will happen to you?
photo credit: Reuters