Decorating the Prison Cell – Golden Handcuffs
Many of us have found ourselves bound by Golden Handcuffs. The pay is so good we don’t want to lose it but the job or team is so crappy, we just can’t stand it. This, soul destroying, heart bending, relationship killing paradox runs the lives of 99.9% of corporate employees and in spite of billions of dollars of training investment, the illness rate, stress leave and addiction to medications for survival, continue to rise. The paradox is not being solved — and the reason for it, is very simple. Poor Leadership.
Leadership – It’s time for a change
Visit the life of any long term successful entrepreneur – a person who has not just succeeded once, but done it multiple times within multiple fields (many once off successful entrepreneurs claim mastery where Luck deserves credit) – the contradiction between what HR departments, company psychologists and jobs for life employees espouse as leadership models is radical, if not ridiculously different. Almost 100% diametrically opposite.
Simply put, leadership in organisations is based on self-survival – or, in ancient spiritual teachings of Khrisnamurti – decorating the prison cell. How to make good of a crappy situation. 50% of executive decisions made by middle managers are experimental, and the other 50% of their decisions are wrong. Leaders of middle managers are told to “give people licence to make their own decisions” and in doing so, introduce one of the biggest myths of corporate life. That unconscious people grow by being given responsibility.
Unconsciousness does not grow, wisdom does not flourish by making mistakes. In fact, in corporate paradigms the admission of a mistake is considered a mistake and with such a lack of space for humility – which is the source of growth in human consciousness – nothing changes unless a change consultant comes to shake the tree and restructure the company.
Internal restructures are, to this end, a joke. That’s the equivalent of tickling yourself. Internal restructures – means restructures undertaken by employees of employees, is about as ethical as Idi Amin (corrupt ex President of Uganda). Even internal interviews are shrouded with long memories in the HR department and the personal preferences of other leaders trying to decorate their own prison cell.
Entrepreneurial Spirit – An Attitude rather than A Job
In the real world there are some common traits of successful people and they differ vastly to the text book biographies of the great – gee I’m a nice popular person – books written about the likes of Richard Branson et al.
Lets’ try to summarise those real traits:
1. A passionate distaste – disdain for rhetoric
Every good entrepreneur got hurt a bunch of times on the way to being good. And the hurt was centered 99% around rhetoric: Ideas, opinions, feelings, fantasies, false hopes, other people’s emotional agendas – so, the great entrepreneurs might be keen to hear what you have to say, but have a BS radar finely tuned. You’ll have about 3 seconds before they decide – Rhetoric or not – and first impressions last forever. This also gives you some hints about how they treat themselves – their intensity of focus which is: if it leads to results do it – if not – then I’m too busy.
Entrepreneurs cause complexity but hate it in their own life. This is a massive paradox that the entreperneurial spirit seems to thrive on. Entrepreneurs generate, create, think up ideas, come up with suggestions – and 90% of the time, hand-pass these hot potatoes to others to sort out. Entrepreneurs cause complexity and yet thrive on simplicity. They’re always summarising, condensing, looking for two pointed models, quotes that encapsulate whole universes of stories. Artists tell stories – entrepreneurs summarise them into do or don’t.
Call it mojo, call it naughty, call it high risk DNA, call it adventurous, call it spirited, but never call it mundane… The entrepreneur who wins sports trophies, or becomes president of the United States, is, in contrast to their PR – a renegade. and they love it. Some do it under cover of darkness, some wear it on their shoulder but inside every successful entrepreneurs is a spirited, angry, determined, aggressive, ambitious, unstoppable appetite for adventure. Kill this and you kill the entrepreneur – and their spirit. Tie the entrepreneur to their public profile and that lusty animal – the beast turns into the werewolf…Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde – Learn Spiritual Awareness and it becomes the game of life – the source of joy.
I have met thousands of entrepreneurs, sports heros, actors, models, performers, artists, entrepreneurs and am one myself – we all share one frighteningly common human trait – insecurity. And it’s what we do to overcome this insecurity that drives a huge amount of our capacity to do what we do. We don’t want to lose because we just don’t think we could cope if we did. But this insecurity has a turning point because when there’s nothing to lose, it’s a brilliant asset, however, when success starts to appear, and there’s a lot to lose, like family, wealth, fame and position it can harden a man or woman into stone, turn their heart to that of an animal and cause untold grief. And at this point – enter the world of substitutes. Food and substance, Greed, Sex and Spirituality are the substitutes we addict to in order to protect ourselves from the insecurity of life and the more an entrepreneur has to lose, the more addicted they become. It is, in most cases, the beginning of a dark dirty and often mortal journey into the abyss of personal hell. Loneliness.
5. Too big to be Small – too small to be Big
For an entrepreneur momentum is everything. Cash builds cash, energy builds energy, success breeds success, love builds love. And in this rise to the Inspiraiton of Success – some falter…. the little train is the best metaphor – going up the hill fully loaded – it starts to run out of steam – “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can, I think I can, I think I can, and slower and slower and slower until there’s a crawl, a walk, a moment where with a final squeeze the top is reached or, with just a wrong moment in time, the whole train, carriages and all, slide backward down the rails toward disaster. Every entrepreneurial spirit knows that momentum is key, and that over the top of that hill there’s a downhill just before the next uphill. They learn to go with the flow, not get attached to the last hilltop and be ready for the next uphill – it’s the journey not the destination they learn to master and thrive on.
6. Do one thing – well
Everyone can do everything, anything is possible – crap. Everyone can try everything, anything is possible if you include your fantasises and dreams as a form of reality, but to bring fantasy, dreams and reality together, not everything is possible – so, the entrepreneur – in sport or work or art – has a primary expertise that’s proven valuable, a God given gift and everything else is decoration on the cake…. The lucky ones work out the cake long before they start investing in the decorations. Of all the failed entrepreneurs – sports, business, art, music or life – the single most common reason I have found is diversification… being great at one thing – should never be a signal that you’re super bullet proof in others.
Making a million is easy, keeping it is the hard part. Becoming a champion can be hard work, but staying on top, that’s hardest. Falling in love, that’s easy – staying in love – that’s hardest. Making babies and becoming a parent – that’s really easy – staying a good parent and role model – that’s entrepreneurial spirit. Sustainability is radically different to an overnight moment of glory… and the reason is pride. When you rise in glory you need to sink in pride…. but many don’t and it’s the attachment to pride – especially the press and PR side – that makes the fall even more painful. I met a world class cyclist who fell in the last 20meters of a championship race, he was about to win, but in his head, 20 meters from the finish, he was already basking in the glory….. rise in glory sink in pride means hand the victory pride to someone who needs it. (deserves it).