The 6 critical mindset shifts needed to go from corporate career to successful entrepreneur: Part 2.
Updated: Apr 7
In part one of this six-part series, I revealed the first mindset shift vital for ex-corporates to attain entrepreneurial success: Letting go of the corporate facade and getting to the essence of who you really are and what sets you alight.
In part two, we dive into the second critical mindset shift:
Stop caring what everyone else thinks.
Equally as important as the first mindset shift, this has to happen in order for you to be completely and utterly true to who you are. When you stop caring what everyone else thinks, when you trust your gut and go for it unreservedly, that's when you find success. But coming out of a corporate career into entrepreneurship, being vulnerable can be hard.
Corporate careers are built on the subjective opinions of others. Does your boss like you? Does your face fit? Are you deemed to be a team-player? Do you fit the corporate culture? Are you smart? Are you tough? As much as we convince ourselves it's objective measures that get us where we want to go, it's not. Yes people have to be competent to progress, but it's whether they're liked and accepted by the right people that really propels careers forward. You have to fit the mold to progress. In the corporate world, we're groomed to care what other people think. And as we humans crave acceptance, that 'grooming' is extremely effective.
In times gone by, acceptance meant survival: There's safety in numbers. While the threat of sabre-toothed tigers has long since passed, the need to be accepted by a group has not. The part of our brain that tries to keep us safe - our reptilian brain - still believes that it's safer to be part of a group than to be alone. Inject that into a corporate environment and you'll see evidence of the reptilian brain at work every day. In organizations, people try constantly to say the right thing, do the right thing, be the right thing, and generally conform to all expectations, both expressed and hidden. You see people dress in much the same way. You see people fall over themselves to be noticed, praised, and recognized: To be accepted. Not wanting to appear controversial, you witness people hold back their own opinions until they've heard what others think. When they do eventually speak up, what they express is a censored version of what they really think and feel. In organizations, the consequences of being perceived to be out on a limb can be fairly dire: You get ostracized, written up, side-lined, or fired; the modern day equivalent of being eaten by a tiger. It's easy, and completely understandable, to adopt a more 'people pleasing' persona inside an organization. It's safe. Period.
The entrepreneurial world is different. When you're out on your own, speaking up, saying what you mean, meaning what you say, having an opinion - no matter how controversial - isn't just a good idea, it's absolutely essential. Trying to follow the pack, fit in, and not rock the boat will render you 'vanilla' and 'inert'. You'll get lost in the melee. No-one will hear you.
I must admit, I struggled with this. Having been a senior executive for well over a decade, most of what I said publicly had been either handed to me by excellent communications professionals, or censored by legal counsel. I have much to thank them for; they kept me out of trouble. But once I made the leap into the wild west of entrepreneurship, I found - much to my surprise and horror - that I had lost my voice. Once I found it, I was afraid to use it for fear I'd go against the flow and say the 'wrong' thing.
It didn't stop there.
I was concerned what would people think if I stepped up and took a stance? What would my former colleagues say? Would they think I'm stupid? And what about all those people who were already successful entrepreneurs? What would they think? And what about my parents? My family? My friends? It was massively anxiety inducing. My reptilian brain was alive, well, and in full working order! Through necessity I put my fears to one side. Once I allowed me - the genuine, uncensored article - to step up and show up, I finally stopped caring what other people thought and I was able to do what was needed to drive my own success.
Once you've decided who you are, what excites you, and whom you want to be, put a stake in the ground and darn-well own it. Decide what you stand for, what you want to say, how you want to say it, where you want to say it, and whom you want to hear it. And then say it. Just go ahead and say it. Write a book, blog, podcast, post on social media, speak on stage, do whatever you need to to own your space. At this point, it's essential you stop caring what other people think. It's essential you stop listening to your reptilian brain. It's time to forge ahead.
As a purpose and passion-driven entrepreneur, what you think, who you are, and what you say and do is your brand. YOU are your brand. Caring about what anyone else thinks or feels about what you have to say or what you do will cause you to second guess yourself, hesitate, procrastinate, stall, hide, and dilute your brand. Do this and you'll end up skulking back to a corporate job with your tail between your legs.
Get your nose down and go. Yes you'll make mistakes, yes you'll screw up, yes someone will get upset, and you'll learn from all of it. And you'll get really good at what you do. But only if you stop caring what other people think and really go for it.
This takes courage. You'll feel vulnerable, exposed, and alone. After years of corporate comfort it's a really strange feeling. But speaking out and standing for what you truly believe will attract your crowd to you; you won't be alone for long. You have to be prepared to be noticed. You also have to be prepared to be ignored. You have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable for a while. But it's worth it.
Let go of the fear. Listen only to the voice inside you that tells you to speak out, stand out, and follow your dreams. This is your dream, your purpose, and your passion. What your former colleagues, parents, friends, siblings, and anyone else for that matter think of what you're doing is of no bearing. You don't need to be an arse to be successful, but you do need to be real. This is your time to shine.
I'll leave you with this:
"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind." Dr Seuss
Okay, over to you.
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