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Escaping the Corporate Cube Farm

Escaping the Corporate Cube Farm

Time to Moo-ve On?

If escaping the corporate cube farm, living free, earning more, and living life on your own terms appeals to you, then you should definitely keep reading. The organizing and mass production of human efforts humbly began as Henry Ford’s big idea. Henry Ford is the father of mass production and the idea of expendable employees. His legacy created our modern day cube farms. In public schools, we are prepared to be domestic animals herded into cubes, exploited, and put out to pasture with our best years behind us. We buy into this huge, unthinkable life compromise for the promise of:

  • Marginal economic security – now
  • Rapidly eroded retirement dollars – later
  • Ailing health and ongoing doctor visits, because you lacked a purposeful life that reduces your pasture time1!!!
  • And, when you FINALLY have the freest time, you’ll mainly see your friends at their funerals (seated or lying down).

There are only three endings to this story:

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  1. You like cubes and will make yourself indispensable2, because you love it. (Happy Cow)
  2. You just want a pay check – not interested in climbing or growing. (Dispensable Cow)
  3. You hate cubes, want to see more of your freest time now, and produce income that supports your life outside of the cube farm. (Divergent Cow)

If you are #3, diverge with me from the cube farm philosophy, and escape the malodorous stench of office-politic cow pies, big brother policy cattle prods, and straight-jackets constricting our creative and innovative minds. If you’re like me, your cube walls are closing in fast and you are having a Morgan Freeman – Shawshank Redemption moment where you hear yourself say, “Get busy livin’ or get busy dyin’!” Morgan chose life and so should you. Life away from the cube farm. Here’s some helpful tips and to avoid the slaughter house or a lack luster stay in the “Life-Interrupted-Pasture Zone”:

#1 Compelling

There’s only one way off the cube farm: Under a dark, sewage storm cloud of self-doubt, fear, naysayers, and deprogramming after years of telling yourself – get a job and hang on for dear life. To endure this constant barrage of escape-derailers, there must be a light so powerful that it eclipses the pain of change, circumstances, and anything that can make you turn back. You need a compelling vision that is WORTH enduring the dynamic changes your body, mind, and priorities must undergo to break out and stay out of the cube farm. For some people, it’s creating a new technology, feeding the hungry, starting an enterprise, or improving someone’s life! This vision2 has to grab you by the short hairs, look you in the eye, and say, “Ride or Die,” and you agree wholeheartedly!

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#2 Bridging

As you plan your exit, you must BUILD a bridge that takes you to your happy place. When you think about most bridges, you have a roadway, support underneath, and a good reason to get to the other side, right? In this scenario, your compelling vision is your good reason. What you have to figure out are the road way and support pillars.

Road way

This is all about what you have or can easily get, if you are resourceful. Based on your existing skills, knowledge, net worth, and network, how could all these things fit together and form a bridge you are willing to cross over, after leaving the cube farm? And, when will this bridge be viable. For example, you are a killer graphic designer working for firm “Douche Bag, Inc. or DBI” and you decide you need to work remotely, see the world, and do creative work that DBI won’t allow you to do. You hit your college network, you call in favors/friends, Google flex opportunities, and create a bridge strong enough to carry your existing financial obligations without depleting your savings/company retirement. This means creating and/or borrowing all the resources you need to support this weighty decision. This bridge can be as simple as setting yourself up as an independent contractor4 up to an S/C corporation.

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Support Pillars

These are things you don’t possess, but you need for a secure roadway. They represent all of the additional resources you need after a careful inventory of your “Haves” versus “Have Nots”. For example, most escaped cows don’t have a strong enough business or social network that can provide additional/initial income generating opportunities, housing, advice, introductions, and the list goes on. Back to the graphics designer. This could mean realizing he/she needs to set up a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC), but doesn’t have a clue how to do it. Or, doesn’t know how to market his/her services on social media. As the old X File saying goes, “The Truth is Out There.” Because I transitioned off the cube farm in 2005 and got pulled back in 2011, I had to learn how to be in business, engage in trial and error, before coming to the realization what I lacked were exposure and connections with those already in my happy place or in need of me being in my happy place with them. Here’s where the rubber hits the road. It’s not enough to escape the cube farm. It is absolutely imperative that you achieve financial viability that trumps ever going back.

#3 Sustaining

On average, most business or entrepreneurial attempts fail in 7 years or less. This can feel like a deal breaker or show stopper, but it’s truly no riskier than having a job that can be remade, moved, or removed at any time! And, the new economy has tons of individuals to corporations looking to extend flexible opportunities, mentor new business owners, and get you engaged in the business of never needing to go back to the cube farm – again. It starts with making valuable connections with people in your career field5 and those who need your skills. This means MAKING time to MEET new people, who you CAN HELP and CAN HELP YOU. This move further strengthens your bridge, while opening up your happy place for business, so you never have to return to the cube farm ever again. Many of my business opportunities come through people I already know, have done business with before, or knows someone who knows me. As I plan my great escape, I will be shoring up my bridge, one more time, and this time for good.

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Good luck and God speed!

References:

  1. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/media-spotlight/201507/how-sense-purpose-can-help-you-live-longer
  2. http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2010/04/16/seth-godin-on-apple-dell-and-the-business-of-being.aspx
  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=311&v=Eig23J5SByo
  4. https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/independent-contractor-defined
  5. http://www.directoryofassociations.com/

Featured photo credit: The Bartlett School of Architecture, led by Johan Berglund from 42 Architects. via floda31.com

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John St. John

Blogger, Writer, Leadership Developer, and Purpose Coach

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Last Updated on November 26, 2020

How Relationships Building Helps Achieve Career Success

How Relationships Building Helps Achieve Career Success

As playwright Wilson Mizner supposedly said all the way back in the 1930s,

“Be kind to everyone on the way up; you will meet the same people on the way down.”

The adage is the perfect prototype for relationship building in 2020, although we may want to expand Mizner’s definition of “kind” to include being helpful, respectful, grateful, and above all, crediting your colleagues along the way.

5 Ways to Switch on Your Relationship Building Magnetism

Relationship building does not come easily to all. Today’s computer culture makes us more insular and less likely to reach out—not to mention our new work-from-home situation in which we are only able to interact virtually. Still, relationship building remains an important part of career engagement and success, and it gets better with practice.

Here are five ways you can strengthen your relationships:

1. Advocate for Other’s Ideas

Take the initiative to speak up in support of other team members’ good ideas. Doing so lets others know that the team’s success takes precedence over your needs for personal success. Get behind any colleague’s innovative approach or clever solution and offer whatever help you can give to see it through. Teammates will value your vote of confidence and your support.

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2. Show Compassion

If you learn that someone whom you work with has encountered difficult times, reach out. If it’s not someone you know well, a hand-written card expressing your sympathy and hopes for better times ahead could be an initial gesture. If it’s someone with whom you interact regularly, the act could involve offering to take on some of the person’s work to provide a needed reprieve or even bringing in a home-cooked dish as a way to offer comfort. The show of compassion will not go unnoticed, and your relationship building will have found a foothold.

3. Communicate Regularly

Make an effort to share any information with team members that will help them do their jobs more effectively. Keeping people in the loop says a lot about your consideration for what others need to deliver their best results.

Try to discover the preferred mode of communication for each team member. Some people are fine relying on emails; others like to have a phone conversation. And once we can finally return to working together in offices, you may determine that face-to-face updates may be most advantageous for some members.

4. Ask for Feedback

Showing your willingness to reach out for advice and guidance will make a positive impression on your boss. When you make it clear that you welcome and can accept pointers, you display candor and trust in what opinions your superior has to offer. Your proclivity towards considering ways of improving your performance and strengthening any working interactions will signal your strong relationship skills.

If you are in a work environment where you are asked to give feedback, be generous and compassionate. That does not mean being wishy-washy. Try always to give the type of feedback that you wouldn’t mind receiving.

5. Give Credit Where It’s Due

Be the worker who remembers to credit staffers with their contributions. It’s a surprisingly rare talent to credit others, but when you do so, they will remember to credit you, and the collective credit your team will accrue will be well worth the effort.

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How Does Relationship Building Build Careers?

Once you have strengthened and deepened your relationships, here are some of the great benefits:

Work Doesn’t Feel So Much Like Work

According to a Gallup poll, when you have a best friend at work, you are more likely to feel engaged with your job. Work is more fun when you have positive, productive relationships with your colleagues. Instead of spending time and energy overcoming difficult personalities, you can spend time enjoying the camaraderie with colleagues as you work congenially on projects together. When your coworkers are your friends, time goes by quickly and challenges don’t weigh as heavily.

You Can Find Good Help

It’s easier to ask for assistance when you have a good working relationship with a colleague. And with office tasks changing at the speed of technology, chances are that you are going to need some help acclimating—especially now that work has gone remote due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Much of relationship building rests on your genuine expressions of appreciation toward others. Showing gratitude for another’s help or for their willingness to put in the extra effort will let them know you value them.

Mentors Come Out of the Woodwork

Mentors are proven to advance your professional and career development. A mentor can help you navigate how to approach your work and keep you apprised of industry trends. They have a plethora of experience to draw from that can be invaluable when advising you on achieving career success and advancement.

Mentors flock to those who are skilled at relationship building. So, work on your relationships and keep your eyes peeled for a worthy mentor.

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You Pull Together as a Team

Great teamwork starts with having an “abundance mentality” rather than a scarcity mentality. Too often, workers view all projects through a scarcity mentality lens. This leads to office strife as coworkers compete for their piece of the pie. But in an abundance mentality mode, you focus on the strengths that others bring rather than the possibility that they are potential competitors.

Instead, you can commit relationship building efforts to ensure a positive work environment rather than an adversarial one. When you let others know that you intend to support their efforts and contribute to their success, they will respond in kind. Go, team!

Your Network Expands and So Does Your Paycheck

Expand your relationship building scope beyond your coworkers to include customers, suppliers, and other industry stakeholders. Your extra efforts can lead to extra sales, a more rewarding career, and even speedy professional advancement. And don’t overlook the importance of building warm relationships with assistants, receptionists, or even interns.

Take care to build bridges, not just to your boss and your boss’s boss but with those that work under you as well. You may find that someone who you wouldn’t expect will put in a good word for you with your supervisor.

Building and maintaining good working relationships with everyone you come in contact with can pay off in unforeseen ways. You never know when that underling will turn out to be the company’s “golden child.” Six years from now you may be turning to them for a job. If you have built up a good, trusting work relationship with others along your way, you will more likely be considered for positions that any of these people may be looking to fill.

Your Job Won’t Stress You Out

Study shows that some 83 percent of American workers experience work-related stress.[1] Granted, some of that stress is now likely caused by the new pandemic-triggered workplace adjustments, yet bosses and management, in general, are reportedly the predominant source of stress for more than one-third of workers.

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Having meaningful connections among coworkers is the best way to make work less stressful. Whether it is having others whom to commiserate with, bounce ideas off, or bring out your best performance, friendships strengthen the group’s esprit de corps and lower the stress level of your job.

Your Career Shines Bright

Who would you feel better about approaching to provide a recommendation or ask for promotion: a cold, aloof boss with whom you have only an impersonal relationship or one that knows you as a person and with whom you have built a warm, trusting relationship?

Your career advancement will always excel when you have a mutual bond of friendship and appreciation with those who can recommend you. Consider the plug you could receive from a supervisor who knows you as a friend versus one who remains detached and only notices you in terms of your ability to meet deadlines or attain goals.

When people fully know your skills, strengths, personality, and aspirations, you have promoters who will sing your praises with any opportunity for advancement.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, it is “who you know” not “what you know.” When you build relationships, you build a pipeline of colleagues, work partners, team members, current bosses, and former bosses who want to help you—who want to see you succeed.

At its core, every business is a people business. Making a point to take the small but meaningful actions that build the foundation of a good relationship can be instrumental in cultivating better relationships at work.

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Featured photo credit: Adam Winger via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] The American Institute of Stress: 42 Worrying Workplace Stress Statistics

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