If you’re working for an organization and want to climb that corporate ladder, then you’ll need to learn how to play the corporate politics game. But like any game, some are good at it and some aren’t. If your corporate career leaves you stressed out, burned out, or just plain bummed out, you’re not alone. The good news is that there’s a way out and in this podcast episode, one man shares his experience of his great escape. 

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Geneva: Office politics, Workplace politics, corporate politics, inter-organizational politics. Whatever you want to call it, it can make or break your experience working for an organization. Those who play the game right, usually climb the corporate ladder while those who don’t, well they’re treated as dispensable, you know, a dime a dozen.

Have you ever experienced office politics? No doubt you have. But just in case you’re not sure, it’s when a person leverages their relationships or connections for their own personal gain. Not necessarily based on the quality of their work but more so based on who they know or who they’ve been able to develop relationships with.

Some people call it brown nosing, or favoritism. In a workplace environment, it can create drama, negativity and gossip. It’s one of the primary reasons why many location independent entrepreneurs decide to start their own online businesses, like our next guest.

Today on the L.I. Club, coming to us all the way from Kenya, we have Robert Belle.

Robert: I was always an unorthodox child growing up. My process of learning, the way I went through the education system, was rather different. This continued even when I entered the corporate world. Despite studying accounting, my first role was in sales. I performed quite well in sales. 

As I journeyed through the corporate world, 90% of my roles didn’t allow me to be seated at a desk or fixed behind a desk or fixed to a particular working time. I always had jobs that allowed me a sense of freedom. Freedom to interact across organizations with external clients, freedom to set my hours even in the early 2000s. And the 10% of jobs where I was required to be at a desk 9 to 5, I found a way to morph my job by taking on additional responsibilities. And so there was a clear indication that I wasn’t built for sitting at a desk and I enjoyed the freedom, the challenge, the uncertainty. 

Despite performing outstandingly in my different jobs, I somehow didn’t rise through the corporate ladder as quickly as I thought or as quickly as my performance would indicate. 

Little did I know that equally important as to my performance, was a little something we call corporate politics. I didn’t know much about it. I didn’t know how to play the game and I suffered terribly because of it. 

It even happened where in one organization, I performed extremely well, getting recognition from corporate global headquarters. And a new role was created. I interviewed and sadly, I was not given the role. I was told plainly that I’m the most qualified candidate but the role is promised to someone else who had done X. Y. Z. to earn it. Not necessarily from a performance perspective but because of corporate politics. 

This started me down a long road walking with no destination in mind. Walking, questioning a lot of things. Walking asking myself, how can I do this? How can I rise through the corporate ladder? And so I made a commitment. I must rise through the corporate ladder. I tried it. I tried it, kept performing well but still didn’t rise through the corporate ladder. 

I finally changed organizations hoping to get a fresh start. Hoping to get all my ducks in a row so that any rise through the ranks. This became one of the worst and best experiences I ever had. 

I had a boss who caused me so much stress that I became sick. Physically, emotionally mentally. My sleep suffered, I could barely sleep. I dreaded going to work. I could feel my body shaking whenever I saw his call coming in or a message from him. Even when I took leave, I was always hounded out and I decided this can no longer be in my life. 

I took a break and thought about my next steps very carefully. And wondered, what could I do? Could I continue with this? Should I start a business? What should I do? What am I good at? What do I desire? When I returned back to work from my leave, I handed in my resignation letter and I have never been to employment since. 

So I started working online. I resorted to what I knew best, accounting. And I decided I want to support people online to do accounting. Not just merely to keep books but to add a little more value to their lives. So I got certified in an accounting system that allowed me to interact with my clients no matter where they were, and no matter where I was. I was independent, my location didn’t matter. 

But as I did this, I did what most first time entrepreneurs do. I utilized a method called the spray and pray. I sprayed my services all over the internet, all over my networks. Praying that someone will come back to me. Praying that I will get a client. 

I quickly snapped out of it and realized this cannot be the way to build a business. Even if I work online, the rules of business still apply. Who’s my target market? What problem am I solving? And so I decided I need to work with a mentor. I need to work with a business coach. And that was not only the best decision of my professional life but also of my personal life. 

Just to let you know when I quit my last job, I was suffering even with weight issues. I was weighing just about 240 pounds. I was not happy with my weight or my lifestyle. And so I decided that year, when I started to work online, I’m going to work on myself. I worked on my health and I lost about 65 pounds that year. 

I tell you this because when you work online you are setting yourself free. You’re giving yourself freedom to use every part of you, every dimension of your life. And as I worked with my clients, I used to keep an eye out and an ear open, not just to their accounting needs but to a deeper need. And I realized as I helped my clients solve a deeper need that they had, the need of lack of creativity, the need of self-limiting beliefs, I too was setting myself free. I was able to offer, not just my accounting skills, but my motivational and transformational skills. 

And I guess what? This resulted even in me releasing in my first book. Along with my mentor, I worked through the process and I wrote a book and released it. And I called the book Blow The Lid Off because I realized I have this unique ability to help people blow the lid off the creative limitations. Blow the lid off the self limiting beliefs so that they can let their light shine. 

I faced a lot of challenges, of course, when I started my online business. And the help of a coach is what helped me to get through all of these problems. One challenge I faced is who is my target market? Which problem am I solving? And that’s a critical question that we all must realize, that we all must answer. 

When you decide to work online you must never forget the human connection, you must connect with someone. And here’s something that I do to counter that. I do a lot of offline connections. I go to networking events, to conferences just to insure and to remind myself that I’m dealing with humans when I go on the internet. 

When I’m in front of my laptop at a coffee shop, on the beach, wherever it might be, the person on the other end is a human being who has problems, who has other issues of life. And if I can connect with them on that deeper level, not only will I be solving their immediate problem but I solve a deeper problem creating greater value for them and, of course, being compensated for doing that. 

And I developed a simple principle that helps me to get through this. I called it M. A. M. I., which stands for minor adjustments that give you major improvements. Everyday I sought to do something that would take me a step closer to my dream and to my goal and when I achieve it, I set a higher goal. When I achieved that, I set a higher target and I kept going with that. Of course, with a mentor holding me accountable is critical for this process.

You know, I always enjoyed working with people from all over the world, from different cultures, from different backgrounds. And that’s what really pushed me to get to work online and I wanted the freedom to spend more time with my family to prioritize my health. 

These days I go to the gym pretty much, maybe every day or 4 to 5 days a week because my health is important, not just my physical health, my mental health, my emotional health. 

I have one day a week where I go gadget free. Where I take a pen and notebook and I write my thoughts. I think about ideas. I think about what I could have done better and then I go back and implement it into my business. 

You see, one challenge we face when we work online is we get so caught up being productive that we compromise our creativity. So as you work online, set time apart to be creative, to renew your creativity. Get out into nature, go for a walk, go for a jog, to keep refreshing your mind because as you solve clients’ problems, as you connect with people, you’re continuously giving of yourself and you need to have a method where you can keep refreshing yourself. 

It’s only when I unlocked my creativity and fused it with my productivity is when I truly set myself free.

Robert Belle is a transformational speaker and author. He operates and identifies under 3 pillars: champion for creativity, ambassador of wellness, and pursuer of excellence. His new book, Blow The Lid Off: Reclaim Your Stolen Creativity, Increase Your Income and Let Your Light Shine! is written for licensed professionals who need to dismantle the line that blocks them from unleashing their creativity. The book takes the reader through an awakening journey and changes their perspective on how they feel about their own creativity, whether they believe they’re creative or not. You can get in contact with Robert through his website at Robertabelle.com.

Guys! I hope you enjoyed this episode of The Location Independence Club. If you’re someone who’s interested in starting or growing your online business, be sure to tune in each week as the club shares some priceless gems with you based on our collective experiences of being online business owners over the years. And if you’re looking for a strategy business coach to help you get started or break through some road blocks, be sure to reach out to me at Genevabell.com. Until next time guys, be well.

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