Compromising Values and Corporate Slavery

We’re now on bullet #8 from my post How To Know If You’re a Corporate Slave.  When you think about compromising values what comes to your mind?  A busy executive not willing to spend time with his family?  Or the sales gun who can’t seem to get off the road?  Both of those situations would fit, but I want to explore the over-time affect.

In my days in the corporate jungle, I had more than a few occasions where I let my career override some of my values.  There were times where I would get the call from my wife asking me when I would be leaving the office.  Feeling torn, I would cave and say I needed to stay a little longer.  Then came the agonizing silence and a soft spoken "ok."  Funny how things get eroded over time…small decision after small decision.  At that time in my life I knew who was master and who was slave.

Many in corporate America think what they do is noble and for the good of all (economy, families, the American Dream, etc.).  But in the reality I lived in it was about profit.  Don’t get me wrong, profit is a good thing until greed takes over.  We could have left a little on the table and still have been profitable.  Funny how greed always seems to be crouching at the door.  I regret not living free.

So what are you to do?  You’re a corporate accountant or a sales engineer and you’ve been doing that for years.  You can’t just give it up.  Or can you?  Consider the following as you contemplate living free:

  1. Many people should just give it up.  They’ve been dormant, if not dead, for too long and there life is passing them by.
  2. If you’re employer is ok with you compromising your values, then they probably are involved in the corporate slave trade.  You can know their ok with it based on what they ask you to do in a given week, month or year.
  3. Compromising values is an over-time process…a very subtle process.  So subtle that you might even think that everything is wonderful (promotions, titles, bonuses, etc.).
  4. Your values are the things that really pay you.  Counter-logic here, but show me a man or woman who have been allegiant to their values, and I will show you someone of true wealth.
  5. Better stop compromising now because eventually you will have to answer for the life you’ve shaped.
  6. If you’re early into your career and haven’t gotten attached to the subtleties of deceit, then ask questions about what’s being asked of you.
  7. If you’re well into your career, see #6.
  8. It’s always a battle to hold your values as sacred.  Don’t think this will be easy, there’s something at stake.
  9. Do you have someone to keep you accountable?  Do you answer to yourself only? 
  10. Corporate slavery succeeds when people forget what living free is all about.  See my post on Taking a Stand for greater clarity.

Ignoring Reality

I thought I would provide you a small preview of my new book, Waking Up In Corporate America: Seven Secrets That Opened My Eyes.  The preview is taken from Secret #6 and addresses the ignoring of reality (another sign of corporate slavedom):


Have you ever watched a kite flying in the middle of March? It conjures memories of childhood, doesn’t it? As wonderful as this sight can be, it also can be an object lesson in why we can find ourselves ignoring reality. That kite is only as good as the holder of the string. If the person holding the string lets go or forgets to pay attention, there can be consequences. The kite could drift away in the blue sky above, or there might be a tangled mess in a tree.

In life, reality is designed to be the string that keeps a limit on wonderful flight. Without it, we would be wanderers floating without direction or, worse, tangled in a mess. We are sort of alive like the dancing kite, yet we’re not fully there because we’re tethered by the string of reality. This causes sadness and a feeling of helplessness. Therefore, we ignore the string—the reality—because we prefer to believe we have the freedom to fly without limits.

There are a number of executives and non-executives alike who ignore reality daily. They foolishly place too much confidence in their knowledge. Whether they hold tight to their advanced degrees or some other validation of their brainpower, they may be traveling on a disastrous road. The newspapers are filled with high-profile stories about smart people doing dumb things.

Where do we turn when we can’t ignore reality? Do we proudly dig in our heels, as if to say, “I know what I’m doing?” Do we become fatalistic and convince ourselves that it really doesn’t matter?

These responses occur in phases—life phases. In youth, pride can get a grip. There is a certain arrogance that screams invincibility. In many cases, this type of attitude closes off the opportunity to learn. In our youth, we can fall into the trap of thinking that learning is only useful when it serves our own purposes. Humility is the fertile ground needed for learning to occur.

5 Myths of Retirement

First, all of us should be investing our money for the future-however long that may be.  We should not be living for a future we have no guarantee of seeing.

Bullet #8 in my post How To Know If You’re a Corporate Slave, speaks to those working/living for retirement.  It’s a sad place to be when all of your energy and focus is on something unknown like retirement.  But we do it and we’re encouraged to as well.  We’re encouraged by Wall Street and the organizations we work for.  Why is that?  With Wall Street it makes total sense; follow the money and you will find Nirvana.  The organization’s motivations can be a little murky.  It can be honest care for you (rare) or it can be a way of putting golden shackles on your wrists and ankles.

I had a conversation with a former colleague who remarked that he was happy that he had a job and only needed 12 more years before retirement.  That statement was not horrific, but the fact that he didn’t say anything else about his work was.  He’s all but given up and given in.  I don’t think his organization minds…

Regardless of where you stand on the idea of retirement, consider these 5 myths:

  1. Other people’s experience will let me know how things will go for me. 
  2. I can do what I’ve always wanted to do when I retire. 
  3. Employers offer retirement benefits to retain talent. 
  4. I shouldn’t let go of those vested benefits that I’ve worked so hard to earn. 
  5. I need to stay with this company to provide a secure future for myself when I’m too old to work.


Thanksgiving Message

To all of the Epic Living subscribers and regular visitors thank you for your loyalty and interest.  You’ve made a conscious choice of allowing my thoughts to come into your day.  This means much to me and I hope your growth has increased because of it.

Taking a Stand

In my post, How To Know If Your a Corporate Slave, last week I noted that if you would lie rather than take a stand on an issue, you were either on your way or already a corporate slave.  Before you shake your head at the transgression of untruth, don’t forget that we all can fall prey to telling lies.  For example; "I didn’t tell my boss that I disagreed with our company’s approach to succession planning, because he said we’re world class in succession planning.  I know I agreed with him when I was asked, but now is not the right time to take a stand.  We have a one-on-one next week anyway…I’ll tell him then."  Sound familiar?

The above example is to illustrate how we voluntarily kill our freedoms and kill our integrity when we choose to lie and not take a stand-no matter how unpopular.  It’s not lost on me that some consultants/coaches/experts might say that the example really wasn’t lying it was using keen strategy to maneuver inside of a matrix organization.  BULLOGNE!

Could it be that we’ve even distorted what a lie is?  Have we compartmentalized things to the degree that we’ll pick and choose when a lie is needed?  Sadly, many have and the numbers are growing.  Some very well intentioned (albeit enslaved) people don’t realize what their trading in this corporate game.  We all trade something.  The question is; can you live with what you’ve traded away?  Do you even know what you’ve traded?

The answer is; you’ve trade your freedom…the following are the things/opportunities you’ve traded away:

  1. Freedom to be authentic (who you really are).
  2. Freedom to tell the truth. 
  3. Freedom to care about your work (the discipline you were wired to do).
  4. Freedom to lead others.
  5. Freedom to help your organization-really help.
  6. Freedom to be an advocate for your customers.
  7. Freedom to leave (your organization) something that isn’t working.
  8. Freedom to pursue what you’ve been ignoring all your life.
  9. Freedom to find out that life is most important-not career.
  10. Freedom to wake up.

There are specific strategies (not lies) that I teach clients on "turning around."  Here are three:

  1. Stop what you’re doing and make a decision about what you want the rest of your story (life, legacy, career, family, God) to look like.
  2. Don’t kid yourself, depending on how enslaved you are, this will not be an easy road.
  3. Get some people (people who believe in truth) to help you on the long journey ahead.

New Column in BizJournals

I have a new column coming out in BizJournals (November 16th Columbus Business First if you desire a hard copy).  I’ll post a link on Friday.

The subject matter is around power and the problem it can create inside all levels of an organization.  I also supply needed remedies to help.

Hope you enjoy it.