I thought you might find interesting a series of articles
I have written over the past six years reflecting each
time I ''attempted'' to leave corporate America only to
return twice seeking the comfort of what I have already
experienced. The last article written only last year reflects
the growth in my thinking with regards to what I must
do. I believe that one must role model and practice what
they preach to be authentic.
Maybe this will inspire you as well, enjoy!
Goodbye Corporate Cubicle..........Hello world!
By Craig Nathanson
Well, todays my last day in a box after 18 years.
Not sure what to expect out there in a world without
walls. Cubicles can be interesting places to work when
you are just starting out. The constraints four walls
place on you can keep you under control and quiet at
times. Not sure Ill miss the local gossip, all
the noise and desk drawers opening and closing
after all these years, but Ill give it a shot.
Yes, I am planning on replacing gray partitions with
sunlight, office small talk with light piano and wasted
effort with purpose. Dont get me wrong, the corporate
life has been a valuable experience all these years,
just time to move on. Must have been turning forty which
caused me to make purpose out of my life, explore my
values and how I wanted to contribute to the world.
The problem is these kinds of ambitions often cause
you to get strange looks while still in the cubicle,
where what you do outside of work is of little interest
Its true I have prepared for this for some time,
writing books, articles, developing seminars and the
like. My work towards a PH.D has gotten me to think
a bit about mid-life transition.
I have come to one conclusion, it is!
Transitions come in strange shapes and forms. What
has suddenly at age forty caused me to give up all these
LONG range plans to SOMEDAY follow my dreams and do
them NOW! Lets see, I have given up my job, my
BIG house and lifestyle. My family has dealt with a
rather difficult transition which despite their love,
must to wonder, is this just another phase?
This time though, I know its for real. It all
started a few weeks ago when I was giving a presentation
about a subject I had discussed countless time before
at work. All of a sudden in the middle of the presentation,
I stopped talking. I started to feel dizzy and light
headed. I couldnt remember what I was talking
about, nor did I care. I felt as if I was a spectator,
not the main event. Somehow, I got though this presentation.
Later that night, I pondered what had happened. The
answer was scary but obvious to me. My body was giving
me a physical sign that enough was enough.....
My body was crying out, to stop spending time wasting
energy, thought and spirit not following my dreams.
I had always wondered about self actualization. Well,
this was the signal to stop wondering.
It was time to let go of the myth that corporate America
will take care of me.
Time to stop spending countless days with lots of activity,
but little meaning.
So I prepare to launch my own business and guide others
through this exciting, scary time of life.
All of a sudden, has the world opened up or was it
The trees look taller, the people friendlier and my
spirit more spirited.
Goodbye Corporate Cubicle, been there, done that!
Creating a life
by Craig Nathanson
When I was laid off five months ago, it seemed like
the opportunity I had always wished for secretly. The
chance to be the real me at least for a little while.
A chance to replace boring meetings where I pretended
to be interested with instead a real life.
It would be the time to eat breakfast late enough in
the morning so the sun shined over the newspaper and
coffee while my three year old played Buzz Light-Year
around my feet. A chance to discuss with my fourteen
year old daughter the merits of running and believing
in yourself. A chance to talk sports with my 11-year-old
son and debate the recent trades. And of course, the
special times to sit and have coffee with my wife and
laugh a little. I have encountered all the emotions
of a lifetime the past five months. Running away, crying,
pure elation, anger, you name it and I have experienced
During my first week off , I was running on a trail
near my house.
Seeing moms with strollers, smelling the morning
bakery and feeling the breeze off the trees, I felt
THIS was the fantasy world. Stick figures pretending
to be living an actual life with routine schedules,
community and flow. I remember on those rare occasions
when I used to take a few hours off from my corporate
life and commute and actually run these trails. It felt
like I was on a one hour reprieve from prison. Just
enough time to enjoy the good life but to realize it
During those first few weeks after being laid off I
had plenty of time (I was training for a marathon) to
truly enjoy the trails. I couldnt escape the feeling
that this was just temporary. Soon, I would have a real
job and of course a real life. No morning smells of
baking cookies, community and sounds of crunching leaves.
Yet, despite this I continued to run down different
paths, exploring, thinking and pondering. Some days
it felt like if ran on THESE trails, maybe the corporate
police wouldnt find me.
Yet, I was always on the lookout for them. They usually
found people like me around 9am on weekdays. I heard
they handcuffed you and brought you back to a non-de
script building. They immediately took a mug shot, gave
you a number and placed a badge on you. The worst of
all they stuck you in a grey 6 by 4 partition. I heard
stories about this. I heard they made you attend back
to back meetings on the first day. I heard you actually
had to sit there and listen to 20 people argue about
the company mission statement while a small non-de script
person wrote everyones ideas on the board. The
meeting would usually end only when the walls were full
and paper ran out.
The other meetings were worst. A meeting to decide
the companys snack policy, one about WHAT to do
about poorly performing employees and then the routine
staff meeting where the boss ranted and raved about
the groups progress and the staff members wondered when
this person would die, retire or take a really long
I heard though the meetings were paradise compared
to the office cubes as they were called. When they first
brought you back, you were given an office in a box.
You know, a stapler, staple remover, tape, pens, pencils
and a ruler! In my 23 years of corporate life, not sure
I ever really saw anyone actually use a ruler. The boxes
though would come in handy later when you were laid
off or moved so you could pack your stuff back inside.
These ever-present thoughts kept me on the lookout
for the corporate police despite the beauty of the trails.
Although in the early months, this seemed liked the
fantasy world, it was one dream I didnt want to
wake up from.
Looking back over the last five months, I have so many
special moments that on one hand seem so unreal from
the real world but will stay
with me forever.
Here are just a few of the memories ;
Walking my son to the park, playing pirates and eating
ice cream bars. As ice cream dripped down both of our
faces, my three year-old turned to me and said, Daddy,
I love you, and can we do this again!
Taking my 11 year-old son to the countless Giant games,
talking sports, riding on the subway (well ok, its called
Bart) sharing bag lunches together bought at the neighborhood
deli across the street
Going into the city with my daughter for baseball,
shopping of course and rides on the cable cars to our
favorite North Beach pizza spot. She wont typically
hold my hand anymore, but in strange new places, she
cuddles and holds my arm, only a feeling a father can
Breakfast in the sun on Main Street sitting outside
with my wife in our favorite local spot discussing kids
and our life together
For me, going into my study after my 10-second commute,
opening the window, turning on the stereo and CREATING
After five months of actually trying really hard to
get a job, it became obvious what the real answer was.
If there was EVER a time to follow my passion, it was
now. I realized that for me, writing, teaching and counseling
was the thing I loved to do best and which made me happy.
Mixed with running and family, this was the life I wanted
and I wanted it NOW.
Turning down a very big job at the end was more then
risky, it was symbolic.
My son said to me, dad, whats the
use of making all this money if WE cant spend
My daughter had gotten used to me driving her and friends
to the mall and then later for ice cream. I always felt
honored that I was invited for the ice cream part.
My older son and I got used to getting haircuts together
while my little one enjoyed carrying his toys to work
with me (My study!)
My wife will also admit it was nice having me around
for lots of catching up and giving her well needed breaks
during the day.
Now, the last few months havent been easy. Being
the only dad at mommy and me class with my son was interesting.
I only wish I practiced blowing bubbles sooner.
Replacing wheels on wagons and re-adjusting car seats
is also not my cup of tea. (My wife finally hired a
guy named Craig (serious) to fix these sorts of things
around the house) When I hear her say, dont worry
well have Craig fix it, somehow makes it feel
a little better.
Looking back, I realize why I loved the trails so much.
New ones always provided a sense of mystery and
discovery. There was this sense of following a path
which was both unknown yet familiar. After each long
run, I would come back with more WISDOM and KNOWLEDGE
then when I started.
So, after a while, training on new roads became the
After five months, I realize NOW that THESE TRAILS
that I have been traveling down filled with moms
and strollers, fresh baking smells and the morning breeze
ARE the REAL life, at least for me.
Its nice when you finally live a LIFE you feel
you have CREATED.
In creating THIS LIFE, I realize I am not doing this
as I had thought, to either save the world or make the
world a better place
I am doing this because its what I love, it makes
me happy and it works for my family. If along the way,
I can make a small DIFFERENCE to others, well, thats
Craig Nathanson is now spending his days teaching,
counseling, writing, running and having lots of ice
cream cones with family.
Craig lives in Brentwood, California with his wife and
Living the Life
by Craig Nathanson (2002)
Third and final article of a three part series on breaking
away from Corporate America
Its only fitting that my first two articles in
this series were called Goodbye Cubicle
and my second article, Creating a life.
The first was written nearly six years ago after a long
career at a high tech firm.
At the time, I can remember feeling like I had jumped
over the fence to make my break.
They eventually caught me and I went back to Corporate
America and the lure of the Dot Com lifestyle close
to five years ago. After much effort and the greed of
riches vanished, my second article called Creating
a Life had more passion, more confidence.
Now, one year later, this article, Living
the Life Rediscovers why I originally wrote
the first two articles!
Well, today, I did it again. I left Corporate America
to follow my vocational passion; Teaching, Counseling
and writing. Whats the difference,
you ask, this time around?
Well for one, I feel different. While doing research
around what I call vocational passion for my doctoral
work the past year, I realized a few things. First,
I realized one day after reading my own writing that
it was time to follow my own advice. This was something
I now must do. My own students who I teach in graduate
school as an adjunct professor were motivated by my
talks around vocational passion. Guess what; I got motivated
Today I left my office building for the final time
with a skip and hop out the door. I headed straight
for the hills for a ten mile run, another passion of
mine. Over hills and trails, it finally hit me. I created
the life I had so preciously imagined the past few years.
I couldnt help but to smile to myself. I told
people I had decided to retire from work. I knew in
my heart that once I found what I loved to do and did
it, I would never work another day in my life. I would
also never re-tire.
.In fact I would re-energize.
I enjoyed my family this evening while sitting on
the family room couch without that nagging feeling to
run into my study and do my work.
You see, now my passion would get done during normal
The events of this past year for my family made this
My 12 year old son became ill and we were forced to
send him away for a year for treatment.
We lost most of our life savings through the dot com
fall-out, and my wife and I have both had recent cancer
scares. In the big picture of life, I needed something
to turn the tide and increase my pace of giving to others.
Its funny the reaction one gets when discussing
vocational passion. Its rare not to have the other
person start to discuss their passions and usually all
the reasons why they have had to put it off for some
Well, I have all the reasons in the world to not put
it off and to launch it now.
I could keep writing but its time now to actually
start living the life!
Craig plans to spend the next year completing his research
and PhD, increase his teaching load, write a few books
and start a private counseling practice helping others
find and live their vocational passion.
Most importantly, Craig plans to spend the most time
with his family and if you need to find him after hours,
just look towards the family couch.
back to top