I recall the decision to start my own business and leave the “security” of a large company. It was a big challenge. It was tougher than I ever anticipated. Had I known in advance … I would have chickened out. It took about five years to toss off my large company paradigms. When I needed office space … I had to find it and negotiate the contracts. There was no facilities manager to call. So I learned. Looking back … knowing what I know … I would do it again in a heart beat.
So is it risky to be in my own business? Absolutely. Is it riskier than being a senior leader in a large organization? Probably not. In both cases, it’s about control and options. When I see a leader who has chosen to be financially conservative and not define themselves by their job … they are able to be the best possible leader. If she has some viable “Option B” and “Option C” to her current role … she can be at her best. She can fight for what is right and do what needs to be done … even against the odds. It is a lot like running your own business.
When leaders feel dependent on their job and company financially and/or emotionally … life can be hell when things aren’t going well. We are seeing it way too often. People who do not do what is right because they are afraid. It destroys the person and the company.
The classic story of the frog sitting still for being boiled when the temperature is slowly increased over time fits several companies today. Each year the stress temperature gets a little hotter, and the courage gets a little cooler. Soon the stress is boiling hot and courage is gone. People race up the ladder to the top and find it’s leaning against the wrong wall. It can feel very painful and scary. It is too easy to play it safe as the critic, instead of being the doer and the fighter.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
It is ultimately personal choice that gives us freedom and courage … not the company or the role.