What is the True Essence of an Entrepreneur?

by | Dec 21, 2020 | collective intellgence, complex adaptive systems, Inclusive Innovation, Integrated Capital, sustainable investing

I have always been drawn to creative, entrepreneurial people. These days, the word entrepreneur is very associated with investing, “scaling-up” your vision, and making lots of money. Somehow we have reduced the word “entrepreneur” to a distorted essence that pales in the comparison to the beauty, creativity, and vibrant resonance of what the word entrepreneur really means. This is really important to understand as we have a tendency to do this “reducing” down of many good ideas to put things into their proper boxes to fit into our current systems in society. When you deal with institutional investors, regardless of how well-intentioned, somehow the vibrancy of an entrepreneur’s real intentions can be easily lost or greatly watered down along the way.

We are so busy “solving problems” in ways that somehow magically make elite, well-connected people (“the 1%) lots of money. We get accustomed to viewing the world in very zero-sum game ways with trade-offs inevitable. These trade-offs tend cause significant problems for many people (especially the most disadvantaged) and also cause much destruction to the Earth’s ecosystems. If you dare challenge the predominant narrative, you become an outsider, someone who does not get it or perhaps is just a do-gooder who belongs in the non profit space. What is it that we really think we are creating with our economic and financial system organized in this way? The economic system is one of our most important and vital systems. This is not a judgment of people, many, of which really mean well, but more of a comment on the nature of how our economic system currently works and is structured.

We are so busy lumping investments in the proper box or bucket that things tend to be very binary, fragmented, disconnected and incongruent. The predominant world view of economics disconnects the money from the systemic value we need to create. Either you are making the next monopoly like Amazon (and making insiders rich enough for 16 lifetimes) or you are allocating some “feel good” resources to disempowered or impoverished people and environmental causes (where the difference in the amounts allocated differ in large amounts leaving few resources for the most important needs of society). Is it really so hard to figure out that the way we think about money, how we structure and run our economic system, and organize our financial structures may actually be a big part of the problem? How do we go from rigid, inflexible buckets of money to something that vaguely resembles the “flow” of life itself, where creative, empowered people are expressing themselves in unique and innovative ways? This is the only way our communities will be restored to health and vitality, regardless of how many top down committees we form and how many new forms we fill out to prove we are solving the problem or new “buckets” we are creating for future capital allocations.

We are inadvertently creating lots of new problems as we pretend to solve problems, but are really just window-dressing the fact that we keep funneling the resources up to the top. As a result, the list of needs grows wider and wider; the people become more and more disempowered and full of fear; many of our natural resources and critical bioregions are destroyed and depleted. Any system that does not empower the people is not a system worth having. It is not about which political party you are in. That is all a distraction, unrelated to the core of the real issues. This requires radical transformation. We do not have to try to dismantle the old. It is very transparent that it is happening right now before our eyes. What we will rebuild is the real question now and how will we do this.

Taking a living systems approach (“permaculture”) to restructuring the financial system is the best way we can rebuild these crumbling, unfair systems, as we are leveraging off the creativity and wisdom of billions of years of evolution. These principles help remind us who we really are at our core which gives us the courage to follow our hearts when most people seem to be running in the opposite direction. These natural principles help us relearn the importance of beauty, joy, vitality, diversity, sensuality, energy, flow and the natural cycles of life. There is nothing airy fairy about these principles. They are profound and are layered with multiple dimensions of wisdom. When you look closely at the principles of living, sustainable systems (this requires your heart’s wisdom, and both sides of your brain functioning), you find the roots of the internet, blockchain, hopes for regenerative medicine, quantum physics, healthier ways to restore people back to balanced emotional health, regenerating our agricultural and food systems….the list goes on and on and on. The current way we perceive our economic and financial system is what limits many of the most creative and advanced solutions from coming to life. There are ways to launch these innovations where everyone can thrive and we can restore our ecosystems back to life. However, this will not happen without some obvious creative destruction of our zero sum game financial structures and also an honest review of many products, services and businesses that currently no longer serve society’s needs. Mother Nature teaches us all about creative destruction and dismantling the old if we have “the eyes to see.”

We keep trying to control the uncontrollable (following the principles of regenerative systems is not a path of certainty. That is always true with non-linear, complex systems. However, our predominant, linear, reductionist view of many complex systems gives us the “false” sense of certainty of how to solve problems that can have many unintended trade-offs) and doubling down on the same top down, hierarchical processes that got us into trouble in the first place (regardless of how many positive “green-washing” labels you use to describe it). If we follow natural sustainable principles, we would instead have decentralized structures and systems, self-organizing groups of empowered, diverse, unique, passionate, free thinking people coming together to re-organize and rebuild things. This is really revolutionary compared to what we do today in our rigid, siloed, hierarchical systems in our societies such as education, governments (large global corporations and their lobbyists have much more power than the people), world health systems, financial systems, large businesses (some of which are larger than many countries….).

There is a great, wise guide for us to follow and “she” has been here the whole time. Fortunately, we now have many advanced scientific and technological tools to help us relearn the wisdom of Mother Nature. Using natural principles is really very intuitive, but for those people that need the reassurance, new science and technology is beginning to validate this ancient wisdom. However, it is also includes looking long and hard at the current hierarchical, top down systems of money and how the flows currently work vs how they need to work to regenerate our lives. We now have the hard earned lessons, a reminder of ancient indigenous wisdom, and brand new technologies to transition to a society that is structured more on what we value, what brings us joy, vitality, and meaning, and what works more inclusively.

The following quote is from a recent novel from Carol Sanford (www.carolsanford.com), who is a highly recognized thought leader in regenerative business. Her book is called “The Regenerative Life: Transform Any Organization, Our Society, and Your Destiny.” This quote is from Chapter 8 of the book. It is a beautiful description of an entrepreneur.

From The Regenerative Life, Chapter 8

Role 5 – The Regenerative Entrepreneur

“I think of entrepreneurialism as a way of being in the world. I don’t limit it only to people who are starting up businesses. Entrepreneurialism can show up as creative disruption inside a company or in the form of an innovative political campaign or in the creative ways an elementary school teacher energizes the kids in her classroom… The entrepreneur role is a source of innovation, particularly with regard to how we live our material lives. Entrepreneurs see beyond how things are currently working to how they should be working. Entrepreneurs have powerful personal agency. They don’t need anyone’s permission. Finally, entrepreneurs have fidgety minds that drive them to try to understand the essence of the phenomena they encounter.”