Ever wonder if you could truly come alive while working for someone else?
By the time I finished writing Career Renegade, the book ended up with a decidedly entrepreneurial bent. But, truth is, it didn’t start out that way. In fact, there was an entire section on going renegade under someone else’s roof that ended up on the cutting room floor.
And, more recently, as I’ve been culling and refining my own quest to play a smaller number of bigger games, I’ve been revisiting that very question. No doubt, going renegade most often taken the form of entrepreneurship, but I’m increasingly wondering if it really has to be that way. Because, in the end…
Going renegade is less about running the kingdom and more about delivering yourself into a place where the qualities and quests that allow you to come alive are ever-present.
You can create that scenario through entrepreneurship as I’ve often done, but that doesn’t preclude the possibility of also finding the necessary qualities under someone else’s roof.
For me, the 8 Critical Renegade Qualities include:
- Mission – Is the mission/vision closely aligned with my own personal mission and desire to create a powerful, lasting impact on peoples’ lives
- People – Are the people within an organization “my people?” Are they like-minded, do they buy into a similar vision, lead with respect, transparency, impact and truth over politics and value similar qualities?
- Culture – Is the overall culture, pace, level of formality, layers of oversight, directness of interactivity, lightness/heaviness, sense of joy and mutual respect and emphasis on collaboration and contribution to a collective vision in sync with the type of culture that allows me to thrive. Is it fast-paced and innovative or locked into established systems (that often bear little relevance to the concerns that gave rise to them). Will people understand that my most powerful innovations often come while noodling away on an electric guitar with headphones in the middle of the day?
- Setting – Is the physical setting one that resonates and supports my quest for innovation and impact, from the nature of the office layout to the geographic location?
- Content – Barring a smallish percentage of admin that comes with any position (even entrepreneurship), is the content largely intrinsically rewarding? Would I do it for free simply because I love to do it? Do I wake up thinking about ways to do it more, better, cooler?
- Process – Are the processes and procedures in sync with the the processes and procedures that allow me to do my best work?
- Control & Accountability – Am I given enough control over the means to be able to effectively deliver on the results I would be held accountable for? Hold my feet to the fire, but give me the matches, the wood and, if needed, an axe.
- Energy – Every organization has an energetic subtext, a visceral pulse that inevitably runs from the top down. On an intuitive level, does my heart beat along with that same pulse?
If the answer to these questions is a strong yes, you might want to go for it.
But, there are a few wild cards…
And, lack of ultimate control is one. When you’re not the final word, you never have the same level of control over your own personal journey or the course of the greater entity that you’d have as the head of your own vision. You may play a considerable role, but you don’t get to set the tone for all the qualities listed above. And, that’s something very serious to weigh. All too often, though, peoples’ quest for control isn’t built around the desire to define the above qualities, but rather the mad dash for security.
People equate control with security and, truth be told, they’re not the same.
Control may get you one step closer, but in the end, the closest you can ever come to the near-fiction of security is extraordinary competence. And, that follows you wherever you go, whether you run your own venture or bring it to life in the context of another’s.
Plus, the entrepreneurial route may also compel you to trade off certain extraordinary experiences.
These often include:
- The resources and support of a larger, better funded organization that would allow you to accelerate and magnify the impact you can have on other peoples’ lives. And,
- The opportunity to work with and learn from extraordinary individuals and mentors, on a day-to-day, face-to-face level.
Right now, 80% of all small businesses in the U.S. are 1-person business. And, according to a recent Business Week article, more than 50% of those are home-based, dropping tens of millions of entrepreneurs into a never-ending quest to find a small collective of trusted Rabbis, mentors and compatriots in an effort to continue to learn and grow and have a group of trusted advisers.
Establishing your own renegade think tank can be massively helpful in moving your vision forward. I’ve done this myself and supplemented it by reading voraciously, attending events and leveraging my platform to interview many of the people I seek to learn from. That’s a very different level of experience, interaction, learning and growth, though, than working with genuine thought-leaders and mentors, face-to-face, day-in, day-out over a period of years.
In the end, there’s no one-size-fits-all renegade solution.
And, as much as I believed for a long time that some people are just cut out to be entrepreneurs and others to be employees, I have to confess to seeing a very real muddying of those waters. Because, to me, going renegade or “coming alive” in the way you earn your living is less about choosing between entrepreneurship and employment and more about:
- Revisiting the 8 qualities above,
- Defining who and what makes you come alive under each category, then
- Building or finding the path and income you need to live well in the world, that aligns most closely around those qualities and that allows you to build your living around the greater lifestyle you seek to manifest.
Either way, the beautiful thing is…we have a choice.
Question is…how will you make yours? WILL you make yours?
As always, just thinking out loud.
What do YOU think?
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