Gallup found that less than a third of U.S. employees were engaged with their jobs in 2014. Salary.com cites the number of people proud of their work plummeted to 64% in 2013 from 83% in 2012 and only 39% said they feel fulfilled by what they do. Forbes contributing writer contends that majority of Americans, 52.3%, are unhappy at work, according to a new report by the Conference Board. well damn...is there any good news?
the statistics and poll results are daunting if you believe the numbers. the people that make up the statistics are who I refer to as the other walking dead of routine zombie like activity of individuals who are unfulfilled at their jobs. waking up daily to fight traffic to get to your dead end job that you don’t love, doing work that does not challenge you, getting paid less than you feel you are worth, living paycheck to paycheck in some instances and yet unfulfilled. same unappealing routine, same level of frustration or dissatisfaction. the reason I can explain this situation so well is because I lived it and it was beyond frustrating for me as I’m sure it is or was for you.
you see I was an entrepreneur who previously failed and had to take a job, any job to ensure my daughter’s needs were taken care of. i had to pivot and unfortunately I pivoted too late and had to take a job that was far below my skill level. i was assured I could move up and around in the very large organization after a year in my current role and that my manager would help make that happen. i was told the organization promoted the concept of individuals finding a role that best suited their skill sets and the organization was really keen on professional development. everyone i encountered seemed to be thriving on the surface. they didn’t look or act miserable so I said what the heck. i’ll take my friend up on her referral as I needed a job after 8 months of being out of work and an additional 6 months of downward spiraling profits from two businesses that were failing fast. one of my businesses I was in the right niche but was incorporating a business model that was not sustainable. the other business I jumped into but realized I didn't love it or feel passionate or purpose driven about the daily responsibilities.
...on the job was okay but by year two I started getting very uncomfortable. i was not getting any consideration for the roles that I applied for that better fit and stretched my skill level. i wasn’t getting the opportunity to contribute at the work group level or otherwise as employees were encouraged to do by senior executives. these empty promises were effective engagement and recruitment tools but not a reality in my work group. i was an anti-status quo entrepreneur type and visionary leader after all and by our very nature we want to fix shit (find solutions) or have ideas about how things could be improved for the benefit of the team. unfortunately I was surrounded by status quo management some of who talked engagement, innovation and inclusion yet I rarely saw the talk turn into courageous action. yes they would pick low hanging fruit of easy issues to address or manage by control but courage was nowhere to be found.
i took matters into my own hands (as I always do) and began to take charge of my career opportunities. i began seeking and taking as many professional, personal and skill development courses that I could, related to my strengths and aspirations. i identified my tribes and joined the company book club, the change management community, the servant leadership workshop team, became an officer two years straight within Toastmasters, including President. i joined a community service and team building committee leading projects and volunteered for several service projects all to prove that I was worthy of the roles that I was applying for and yet….still no takers in the internal job application process. WTF is going on is all I could think about. many within my various tribes at this particular company that I spoke to about the issue believed that it was all about who you knew and how you played the game or worse yet, favoritism. this included every type of employee from front line workers, managers to directors. it dawned on me that I wasn't interested in anyone playing a game with my life, my talents and my life's work. There would be no puppet master activities taking place.
by year three...
...i was thoroughly discouraged, disgusted and became increasingly disengaged feeling trapped by a manager and an organization that said one thing but did another or nothing at all. i was told by my manager that I was too engaged with workplace activities, that I wanted to take too many professional development classes though i was still a top performer. seriously? what leader says that. oh wait...my bad. i wasn't dealing with a leader but an entitled people manager. while I could not prove it, i kept getting cues and suggestions from coworkers that my manager was intimidated by my determination, self-confidence, outside work group, intelligence, likability and sociability all of which are major leadership traits. it didn't make sense because any well intentioned leader would see that their direct report’s positive accolades reflected positively on her.
i effectively became a zombie walking through my own career and my own life with my eyes wide shut feeling very defeated. then it finally hit me like a ton of bricks that i wasn't fulfilled or thriving because I wasn't BEing myself. i was doing a job that I wasn't meant to do and applying for positions I was not meant to fill. i took what should have been a temporary situation and turned it into my new life. i drank the kool-aid. i mean the whole damn pitcher of the really good overly sweet kool-aid that's so good to you but it's bad for you. i lulled my entrepreneurial self to sleep accepting the false sense of security an every two week paycheck provided. lifetime employee status is the reality for many but not for me which is why none of their puzzle pieces fit into my life. God was not allowing me to get comfortable where I was not meant to be. the purposed I served, lessons I needed to learn, development i needed to grow and the people i was meant to connect with and impact did not translate to me taking up permanent residence as an employee. my individual calling was much greater.
once I reminded myself who I really was, an entrepreneur leader and not a permanent employee, i stopped applying for their jobs and started using all my free time at home to develop my exit strategy from employee back to my world of full time entrepreneurship.
staying in this zombie-like state isn’t healthy or rewarding but many believe they have no other option or like myself, forgot who you authentically are. this Forbes article effectively illustrates signs that you are settling for a dead-end job. you're a working entrepreneur who has already taken a major step to start pursuing your dream life as a full time entrepreneur. don’t get comfortable with a limited paycheck and settle for less than creating your fulfilled life as an entrepreneur. if you were an entrepreneur previously, took a hiatus to regroup and know that entrepreneurism is your true calling, then it’s time to go full throttle and play bigger. accelerate your progress and do it now.
i have a quest to empower, encourage and help those who can be and should be entrepreneurs kick the cubicle to the curb for good, never to return and create your best life now through entrepreneurism. why? because the world needs individuals meant to be entrepreneurs. Don't make yourself into something you're not. my message is specifically for the entrepreneurial minded individuals. only you know whether this message authentically resonates with you. maybe you know someone that you believe in who's story resembles my own. please share so he or she knows it's not over. their journey is simply in progress and they should keep going.
creating a fulfilled life
some have figured out that starting a non-competing side business from a hobby or using skills that aren’t tapped into at your job is the answer. i would agree as I believe monetizing your skills is a good place to start and no one has the right to dumb you down or expect that you won’t use your talents once you leave their job. everyone has a right to create their fulfilled life on their terms and many of us have done so through entrepreneurship. it begs the question why would anyone that has the skills, platform and tolerance to start a business remain in the other walking dead frame of mind? well because this shit is honestly HARD but it is so worth it because YOU'RE worth it. hard doesn't mean you give up rather hard suggests that you just have to find a way to get it done and there is always a way when your it is righteous.
let’s be clear, deciding to PLAY BIG as the best version of yourself will require you to forever leave your self-doubt behind. you’ll have to remove the unhealthy clutter from your life, become extremely focused saying yes to more of the right things and no to the wrong things that will impede your ability to grow. it is my belief that your life is important and we all have a calling or purpose to fulfill. for may of us that calling and fulfillment is tide to our work as entrepreneurs. our purpose is to make a greater impact on a larger stage than as an employee or individual contributor. i found it unacceptable to continue going to a dead-end job that accounts for over a third of my waking hours with no plan on how I would change my own destiny. understanding that I possess certain entrepreneurial capabilities, I began to immerse myself into entrepreneurialism and learning the business behind the business that I wanted to be a major player in.
staying focused on becoming an eventual entrepreneur leader
though I’m on #teamentrepreneur and #noexcuses, I do understand that most of us have familial and financial related obligations to tend to that keep us working at a job that we don’t love simply to meet these obligations. let’s face it, it costs to live and the standard of living and inflation are rising at a faster rate than salaries and wages. i get it however you are doing yourself a real disservice by remaining unhappy continuing to simply go to a job and go home. never taking action to identify the right business, business model and strategy to transition from employee to working entrepreneur then an eventual full time entrepreneur leader safely isn't acceptable. you will hear me say often that you have one shot at creating your best life now and if you’re reading this, you’re breathing so it’s not too late. Once those lights go out, your time is up for good. don’t spend your life in a zombie like state of mind. have the courage to create your life’s work whatever that may be. you owe it to yourself to find out if you are not sure and if you know what it is, you owe it to yourself to start doing it. become a part of projects and initiatives that you can lend your skills to and begin to create freelance opportunities for yourself.
what some say you should consider but I disagree
i believe it is extremely unfair that any employer should have a right to keep individuals from supplementing their professional work life or profession by starting a side business. you do want to find out if the employer you currently work with has an opinion on this. make yourself aware of your own personal circumstances. you will not find any resources on Courage & Candor advocating for or speaking on behalf of employers that don’t want individuals to express their full selves in life outside of the employer’s four walls. i don’t believe that any organization has a right to dictate how you use what i believe to be your God given talents during non-work hours in a non-competing industry or business you are involved in. for this reason you should perform your own due diligence to fully inform yourself on this topic. many people have multiple jobs and smart organizations are often dabbling into different ventures to create product extensions or new market opportunities to grow their business, their reach and their profit. it's their side hustle so why is it an issue for productive individuals who work with them to have a side business? some organization's code of conduct goes too far.
as i step down off of my soap box I want to reiterate that you cannot and should not remain a bench player when are meant to be your own franchise player. the same is true for remaining in your comfort zone as an unfulfilled employee when you should be a full time entrepreneur, playing much bigger, contributing at a higher level and making a bigger impact. something will continue to call out to you until you answer the call. someone somewhere needs you expertise. it is your decision to take a courageous step forward into the village and tribe you need to connect to or not. i hope you choose you.
as a working entrepreneur, I want to congratulate you for having already started a non-competing side business and your journey is just beginning. get connected within your community, learn something new about the business daily and begin to understand who you authentically are by taking skills and trait assessments questionnaires so that you better understand your strengths and opportunities for improvement. the results will help you transition to more than an entrepreneur but an entrepreneur who leads. for free skill assessment tools try here, here and here.