I had achieved my goal. I had “made it” by corporate standards. I was a senior executive with a big corner office and a big salary to match. Over 3,500 people reported to me globally, and I had a budget of millions to “improve the Customer Experience.”
So with all of these great things going in my career, why did I want to leave? It’s simple, really. I wasn’t happy. After reading a great book called “Who moved my Cheese?”, I realized the fun was getting there, not being there. The fun was in the journey and the struggle to achieve.
Wanting to Leave Was Easy, Going Was Tougher
Yes, I had achieved what I set out to achieve at the beginning of my career. It was a real climb, especially when you consider my first job out of school was filling freezer food cabinets in a frozen food retailer. However, once I had achieved my goal, I realized I wasn’t challenged anymore. I had all the trappings of success but had lost my drive. I was turning the handle on the machine, as it were. Despite all the great perks, my job was just a job, in many ways just like the ones I had before it.
I’ll be honest. It was a little bit of a crisis for me. I had worked hard to get to this point, sacrificed much to “get on” in the corporate world. Now that I was here, I was disappointed. Had everything that I worked for been a waste of my time?
I had seen firsthand what could happen when a company decided to put the Customer first and listen to what they wanted when it came to doing business. At the time, no one was talking about Customer Experience as a thing and wouldn’t for a couple of years at least. Nevertheless, it intrigued me. When I was honest with myself, I knew what I wanted: To start my own business consulting on how to put the Customer at the center of everything you do.
The only problem was I was terrified to do it.
Deciding to Do It Anyway
Corporate life has positives and negatives like anything. One thing solidly in the positive column is that it felt safer than starting my own business. I knew the corporate ways of doing things. I was comfortable with the corporate perks I enjoyed. I felt more secure financially knowing that my salary would be there every month, which as we all know is no small thing.
I didn’t know how to run a small business. I didn’t even have the first idea of how to start one. Furthermore, my kids were about to go to university, meaning I was facing some serious financial responsibilities—not the best time to risk your steady income!
The sensible side of me said to “Keep Calm and Carry on” in my role. But the dreamer, the one who got me there in the first place wouldn’t stop needling me about starting my consultancy. This led to sleepless nights and some frank concerns about my state of mind.
However, the needling side of me knew that I had a good idea. I had the right experience at the right time to spread an important new idea. I knew deep down, that while it was terrifying, it was time. So I talked to my wife about it and we decided I would leave my corporate life and start my company.
I Never Looked Back
I am happy to report that it worked out for me, and, in fact, it’s been one of the best decisions I have ever made. I left corporate life, and founded Beyond Philosophy, a global Customer Experience consultancy. My passion for how human emotions affect the Customer relationship and the fascinating factors in the human brain that contribute to it have enriched my professional life in ways that I didn’t expect. Over the past fifteen years, I learned how important it is to do what you love because you believe in it. I am not turning a handle anymore, and it has made a huge difference for me.
I am sure more than one of you reading this is considering a big career move. Maybe you are going to change companies or maybe considering changing industries. Maybe, like me, you are considering striking out on your own. Like me then, you might also be struggling with the fear of failure and the unknown. I can sympathize and wish you the best. I believe that every person must make decisions about risk with which they are comfortable.
However, if I could offer you one piece of advice it would be this: Never let your fear be the reason you don’t try. If I had allowed it, fear would have stopped me from making a move that changed my life and career for the better. There are sometimes great reasons not to take a risk, but fear is never one of them.
I never missed my corporate job. Being your own boss is great. I quit corporate life to start my own business. I am happy to report I never looked back.
Is it time for you make a change in your career path?
If you enjoyed this post, you might be interested in the following blogs:
- Are You Working for the Right Company?
- My First 90 Days: The Secrets You Must Know about Your New Job
- Are You Making These Mistakes with Your Employees Today?
Colin Shaw is the founder and CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s first organizations devoted to customer experience. Colin is an international author offour bestselling books and an engaging keynote speaker.
Follow Colin Shaw on Twitter @ColinShaw_CX