Breaking Free from the Corporate Ladder Illusion

Alex Greenwood
6 min readJun 15, 2023

Imagine being a child and constantly being asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The expected answers always revolve around a profession, a job that earns a monthly paycheck. This marks the beginning of our indoctrination into the corporate ladder mindset.

Photo by Armand Khoury on Unsplash

The Influence of Education and Society

From the very start, our education system ingrains in us the narrative of working for a company. It’s akin to Google’s algorithm, reinforcing what we consume until our vision narrows to focus solely on corporate employment. We are molded into ideal workers, equipped with skills and knowledge to make corporations prosper. Unfortunately, entrepreneurship and innovation often take a backseat, considered mere add-ons rather than integral parts of success.

Societal Pressure and Brand Identity

Society itself perpetuates the traditional corporate lifestyle as the ultimate brand campaign. In a world where personal brand identity is paramount, the company one works for becomes a status symbol, akin to driving a Tesla or wearing a Rolex. Friends, family, and acquaintances eagerly buy into this narrative, praising company affiliations without considering personal happiness or individual definitions of success.

Media Influence and the Need for Change

Consider the numerous movies where success is equated with a business suit and a job at a Wall Street firm. Hollywood’s idea of a plot twist is when a character leaves their corporate job to pursue a bakery or winery. But such career shifts should be the norm, not an exception.

Risk Aversion and Fear

Fear and risk aversion further contribute to this institutionalization. Company employment offers a sense of stability and predictability that entrepreneurial paths might lack, particularly in the initial stages. The associated risks of starting a business — financial uncertainty, long hours, lack of benefits — discourage many from exploring alternative routes. Reluctance to embrace uncertainty and risk further reinforces the institutionalized belief that company employment is the default choice.

Bureaucratic Barriers

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Alex Greenwood

PR Consultant, Speaker, Podcast Producer/Host, Editor, and Award-Winning Writer of the John Pilate Mystery Series. Accomplished belly laugher.