9 Ways to Embrace Intrapreneurship and Love Your 9-to-5

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I just learned the term “intrapreneurship,” so I thought I’d write a blog post around it 😁.

We often hear stories of daring individuals who quit their day jobs to pursue their passions, leaving the rest of us wondering if we’re doomed to a life of unfulfilling work and missed opportunities.

In a world where entrepreneurship is often seen as the ultimate path to success and fulfillment, the humble 9-to-5 job has become synonymous with monotony, struggle, and a slow death of dreams 😱.

There’s no denying that starting your own business is exciting, unique, and exhausting all at once.

I experienced the thrill of entrepreneurship for five years. It was an incredible journey during which I learned invaluable lessons about extreme ownership, risk-taking, loss, and the sense of fulfillment that comes with building something from the ground up.

In this post, we’ll explore the concept of intrapreneurship and how it can transform one’s work experience regardless of job title or company culture.

Straight out of Wikipedia:

Intrapreneurship is the act of behaving like an entrepreneur while working within a large organization. 

behaviors and mindsets that lead to intrapreneurship:

1. Embrace the mindset of a disagreeable giver:

Organizational psychologist Adam Grant introduced the concept of the “disagreeable giver” in his book “Give and Take.” According to Grant:

A disagreeable giver is someone willing to challenge the status quo, provide critical feedback, and advocate for what they believe in while remaining committed to helping others and contributing to the team's success.

Here’s how we can apply this concept in our daily job:

a. Focus on delivering high-quality work and solving real problems for your team and customers rather than simply trying to please everyone and taking on more tasks.

b. Being willing to respectfully challenge ideas and provide constructive feedback, even if it goes against the majority opinion. This can lead to more innovative solutions and better outcomes for the team and the organization.

c. Stand up for your values and advocate for what you believe is right while still being open to hearing others’ perspectives and finding common ground.

d. Prioritizing the team‘s success and being willing to help others, even if it means going above and beyond your job description or stepping outside your comfort zone.

Be known as someone unafraid to speak up, challenge the status quo, and drive positive change, all while being committed to the team’s success and well-being.

By embracing the mindset of a disagreeable giver, you’ll gain the respect of your colleagues and establish yourself as a valuable asset to the organization.

2. Adopt a problem-solving mindset

Challenge the status quo and prioritize the team’s success.

  1. Embrace challenges as opportunities: When faced with a problem, try to reframe it as an opportunity to learn, grow, and make a positive impact. Instead of getting stuck in a cycle of frustration or blame, ask yourself, “What can I learn from this situation? How can I use this challenge to develop new skills or strengthen relationships?”
  2. Follow complaints with proposals: Don’t stop there if you or others complain about a particular issue. Take the initiative to brainstorm solutions or improvements, even imperfect ones. That’s how you develop a reputation as a problem-solver and create a more positive, proactive team culture.
  3. Prioritize and let go: Recognize that not all problems can or should be solved, especially if they’re outside your control or have a minimal impact on your goals. Learn to prioritize the challenges that matter most and dare to let go of those that don’t serve you or your team. Focusing your energy and attention on the correct problems, you’ll be better positioned to drive meaningful change and find a sense of purpose in your work.

3. Put the team first

Not all jobs have an obvious higher purpose, such as working on a cure for a childhood disease. Nevertheless, finding meaning and purpose in any role is possible.

Focus on improving the team dynamics, enhancing the customer experience, or contributing to a positive work environment.

Prioritize the well-being and growth of your team. Invest time in building strong relationships, offering support, and being there for your colleagues when they need you. Here are some practical ways to do this, based on the insights from my previous blog post:

  1. Check on each other before checking on tasks: Start meetings by checking in on team members, sharing personal stories, and creating a space for connection and support. This simple practice can go a long way in fostering a culture of empathy and care within the team.
  2. Trust your team first: Demonstrate trust in your team members by giving them autonomy and ownership over their work. Avoid micromanaging or constantly checking in on their progress. Instead, they should be provided with the resources and support they need to succeed and trust that they will deliver.
  3. Create a safe team culture: I will not repeat my safe culture blog post. However, I recommend reading and understanding that even if your company’s overall culture is less than ideal, you can cultivate a positive micro-culture within your team or department.

By focusing on the human element of your work, you’ll create a sense of purpose and belonging that goes beyond the daily tasks and responsibilities.

4. Practice extreme ownership

This topic deserves a blog post; Jocko has dedicated a whole book. Here’s the gist:

  1. Take full responsibility for your actions, decisions, and results: When things go wrong, resist the urge to make excuses or point fingers. Instead, take full responsibility for your role in the situation, acknowledge your mistakes, apologize if necessary, and focus on finding solutions and learning from the experience.
  2. Take responsibility for your team’s performance: As an intrapreneur, you can influence your team’s success, even if you’re not in a formal leadership role. Take ownership of your team’s results, and work proactively to support your colleagues, remove obstacles, and drive continuous improvement.
  3. Lead up and down the chain of command: Extreme ownership isn’t just about taking responsibility for your actions; it’s also about supporting and empowering others to do the same. Look for opportunities to lead by respectfully sharing your ideas and concerns with your managers and by providing your team members with the resources, guidance, and autonomy they need to succeed.

5. Be emotionally predictable & don’t take things PERSONALLY

People want to know what to expect when they talk to you, give you negative or positive feedback, ask you to work late, ask for help, ask for a day off, answer a question, and not be afraid to be wrong, etc...

For that to happen, you must be approachable, tolerant, emotionally stable, and able to detach yourself from the job.

This does not mean that you shouldn’t have emotions or feelings. It means that you can control how and when to respond to external situations and express your emotions in a controlled and constructive manner.

One of the main mindsets that can help you achieve this goal is not to take things personally.

In the “Don’t Take Anything Personally” chapter from Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements, Ruiz teaches that others’ actions and words reflect their realities and wounds, not yours. He advises avoiding unnecessary suffering and maintaining emotional independence by not taking things personally.

If you want to improve these mental skills, I recommend The Four Agreements and Meditations.

6. Practice gratitude

A while back, I wrote a post on adaptability and how it can make us complacent.

Our ability to quickly adjust to new situations can sometimes lead to a lack of appreciation for what we have. However, maintaining a solid work ethic and a sense of gratitude is essential for finding lasting fulfillment in your 9-to-5 job.

Make a conscious effort to appreciate the positive aspects of your job, no matter how small. By bringing your best self to work each day and maintaining a thankful attitude, you’ll be better equipped to face obstacles, find deeper meaning in your work, and ultimately thrive as an intrapreneur.

7. Define and uphold your values

Identify your values and let them guide your actions and decisions in good times and challenging situations. Stay true to your principles, even when difficult, and you’ll build a reputation for integrity and authenticity.

In their book Compete to Create, Dr. Michael Gervais and Pete Carroll talk about Personal philosophy:

Writing down your personal philosophy is a process that takes a lot of work, but everyone is capable of doing it. Living your philosophy is how we share who we are, what we stand for, and is the lens that guides our thoughts, words, and actions.

The power of knowing your personal philosophy comes from knowing yourself. When you are clear on what’s important to you and what you stand for, you are equipped to handle life.

This video explains Personal Philosophy. I cannot recommend this concept enough!

8. Work hard

Success and fulfillment often require hard work, dedication, and the willingness to push through discomfort. Be willing to put in the effort, even when you’re not feeling your best or facing challenges.

Like how NBA players work on their skills during the off-season and days off, you need to work on your craft and skills independently. Don’t expect to learn everything on the job.

Balancing hard work with intelligent strategies and self-care ensures sustainability and long-term success.

9. Make incremental progress, constantly

One of the most powerful drivers of fulfillment in any area of life, including work, is the sense of making progress. When we feel like we’re learning, growing, and moving forward, even in small ways, we’re more likely to experience a deep sense of satisfaction and purpose.

However, many people fall into the trap of “coasting” at work – doing just enough to get by without actively seeking new challenges or growth opportunities. 

While coasting may seem like the path of least resistance, it comes at a high cost. 

When we’re not engaged in our work or pushing ourselves to improve, we’re more likely to experience stagnation, boredom, and unhappiness.

Instead, focus on small, consistent steps that add up over time. For example:

  • Set micro-goals: Break down larger objectives into smaller, achievable milestones.
  • Learn something new: Make a habit of acquiring new skills or knowledge related to your field.
  • Take on challenging and scary projects: Share your desire to find more difficult work with your manager.
  • Seek feedback: Regularly ask for constructive feedback from your colleagues, managers, or mentors.

Conclusion

In conclusion, finding fulfillment and purpose in a 9-to-5 job is not only possible but also achievable through the practice of intrapreneurship.

  • Embrace the mindset of a disagreeable giver.
  • Adopt a problem-solving mindset.
  • Put the team first.
  • Practice extreme ownership
  • Be emotionally predictable
  • Don’t take things personally.
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously.
  • Embrace gratitude
  • Define and uphold your values.
  • Work hard.
  • Make incremental progress constantly.

Please share any other advice you might have.

Thank you so much for reading!

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