Have you been laid off, fired, or pushed out of a corporate job that you held for a number of years? While you were there did you become part of the corporate culture to such an extent that your behavior and principles changed to fit it?
Decorporize is word I coined to describe the process of shedding a corporate mentality.
If that particular corporate environment encouraged you to start exercising regularly, then its influences were positive, at least to some extent. However, if the corporate culture pushed you to compromise your integrity, demanded that you work insane hours, or persuaded you to drink heavily, then its effects were negative.
Even if you were able to stand firm on most of your principles, work slightly less than crazy hours, and only drink on certain occasions, you were still gradually becoming a part of that corporate culture. It’s impossible not to be become a part of it, good or bad, to some extent if you are to be successful.
What happens when you leave that corporation though? What becomes of the personal identity of you the corporation created? You participated in the creation of this identity. You may have helped it along as you received encouragement with promotions and perks like company cars, expense accounts, bonuses, and reward vacations.
Your corporate job came with power, money, and the all-important title! You were riding high. You felt good about yourself. People showed you respect with their “Yes sir!” or “Yes mam!” replies. Then one day within a span of 15 minutes, it was all gone!
I experienced this very thing. I had worked for a well-known international corporation for nearly a decade and a half. I enjoyed many promotions and lavish perks. This all changed when the company hired a new executive team from the outside who doubled the number of employees. Soon the company was in trouble financially, so an “efficiency” consulting firm was hired.
Their brilliant solution was to layoff those with the highest salaries — who also happen to be the most dedicated, experienced, and talented! After this process was completed over several years, the company sank into further financial debt and eventually had to give up its majority ownership.
During my tenure as a corporate man (a suit), I learned a great deal, enjoyed several exciting promotions, and received a golden parachute in the end. So I left with little bitterness and a lot of optimism about the future. My dream was to be an entrepreneur. The problem I had in getting there was that I was still a corporate soldier. I still talked, behaved, and thought like a corporate executive.
It took me years to shake my corporate identity. Once I got rid it, I was able to become an entrepreneur. This process would have been much quicker had I done the things I am about to describe. Here’s how to decorporize yourself.
- Take a soulful vacation immediately. Do not put this off for any reason. And take as much time as you need. Do not set a limit on how long you’ll be gone. If you truly cannot afford a hotel, go camping or take day trips instead.
- Get rid of, or put into deep storage, all reminders of your former corporate self. This includes briefcases, suits, items with the corporate logo, and memorabilia like awards, newsletters, and photographs.
- Drop the corporate lingo. Remove those fancy corporate words and phrases from your vocabulary like, “…reach out to you.” “Put my arms around…” “…low hanging fruit.” You’ll soon laugh when you hear these words spoken by a loyal corporate soldier who unwisely believes that he or she will work there forever.
- Wear clothes and your hair like “you” want and not like a corporate soldier. Even if you choose to look for work at another company, being yourself in the way you dress and wear your hair will lead to a job that aligns with your outlook. Caveat: Clean, groomed, and a pleasing manner is always a prerequisite for most jobs.
- Strip away your corporate materialism by downsizing. Sell everything that represents the corporate life, burdens you financially, and limits your mobility. This would include your big house, big cars, and recreational toys you rarely use.
- Go after either getting another job or becoming an entrepreneur, but not both at the same time. The mindset for these is so vastly different that you’ll be pulling yourself in opposite directions if you go after both. I wasted a lot of time doing just this. Tip: Creating an online business is the least expensive way by far to become an entrepreneur.
- Begin a mass self-improvement, self-transformation, and self-reinvention program. This would include things like starting a daily exercise program, eating a super healthy diet, and giving up bad habits. Many articles on this site cover each of these topics.
Not all corporations require as much decorporizing once you leave them. Many young entrepreneurs who watched their parents and relatives lose their jobs have created socially responsible corporations. I’m greatly impressed by these young men and women. I hope they do not change if they become behemoth corporations or if their profits begin to wane.
Adjust your decorporizing measures to fit the intensity of the corporate culture you came from and the length of time you were there. The goal is to emerge on the other side a better person than you were when you arrived at the corporation. This means that you drop the bad influences and keep the good things you learned.