Nine things I learnt through starting my own company…
1. Advice can make you or break you
When you embark on a new project, everyone and their grandmother will take the opportunity to give you their take on what, how, when and why you should do that you are going to do. Whilst there will be little nuggets of gold to be taken, there will also be bucketfuls of useless and potentially dangerous ideas. Everyone comes with their own baggage; frustrations, failures, concepts and assumptions, you will need to develop a strong sense of what feels right for you to stand strong in the face of all this advice.
2. People make you, and you make the people
Having the right people around you. It is not a new observation but it sure is crucial. The thing is, it is also within our power to bring out the best or the worst from the people around us. Creating an environment of trust, appreciation, respect and support is paramount, and can only be done by you embodying these principles yourself. You need to act from a place of trust, appreciation and support and at the same time be vulnerable enough to admit when you haven’t got the strength to, and need some support yourself.
3. Everything you do (and don’t do) is a communication
When you are in a position of leadership, everything you do counts for more, as it sets the tune for others around you. If you are expecting others to work towards a vision and act in line with a set of values, you have to be impeccable in your own communication. It doesn’t matter if you get things wrong, but be strong enough to own your mistakes, as this will affirm people’s trust in you, instead of causing them to doubt you.
It is also important to be relatively steady in the values and visions you want your team to work towards. Of course we can revise and change or opinions, but be careful as too much flip flopping will make it harder for you to be taken seriously.
4. Make plans but be open to serendipity
Having a plan is essential in business. Without a foundation and structure, your boat will be sailing without a rudder. Having said that it is also important to develop the sense of when it is appropriate to throw the plan out of the window and follow a hunch.
5. Don’t identify with your business
Getting too attached to your business is dangerous, it not only adds stress but it can also make you less effective. Sometimes we identify our own self worth with the success of our project or business. This means that when things start going differently from how we planned, we panic. This state blurs our vision and means we are less likely to make good, objective decisions. Often the path is not a straight one, and you have to take turns you weren’t expecting. You can resist the turns and resist evolution, or you can ride the tide of change and end in a destination that was better than you could have ever dreamed of.
6. There will be moments of strain within every relationship
As we grow together, there are always moments when we trigger each other. These are moments where we think it would be easier to be without each other, that we are not sharing the same values and that the relationship is not beneficial. However these challenges are actually an opportunity to look deeper into ourselves, to choose to understand each other more deeply, and to share ourselves with each other. In moments like these relationships can either breakdown or breakthrough to new levels of mutual understanding, love and gratitude. Try not to take rash decisions in times of differences of opinion, instead make the time to hear each other out with open minds and open hearts.
7. Be mindful of your response-ability
Fred Kofman in his book ‘Conscious Business’ talks about how, although we may not be in control of outside circumstances, we always have the choice of how we can respond to these circumstances. Sometimes it is all too easy to play the blame game, and emphasis on how we are powerless in the face of certain situations.
In reality we can choose to be a victim of a situation or we can focus on our power to respond. Choosing to focus on what is in our control is very empowering, forward moving and effective. As Fred Kofman notes, “you have to be part of the problem to be part of the solution”
8. Your weakness can be a great blessing
Whilst it is often hard to accept our own faults, they can actually be the source of a great strength. When we acknowledge our weaknesses we are creating the space for someone to come and support us in that area. If we are perfect, how will we work effectively in a team?
Our weaknesses/vulnerabilities connect us as human beings, and offer us the opportunity to be stronger as a whole than we are on our own. To pave the way for this very fulfilling collaboration we have to accept and celebrate our weak points.
9. Communication is key
Transparent communication is a great foundation of both individual and community happiness. Often our intuitive voice gives us the right guidance, but conscious and subconscious fear come in and block us from being able to follow through on it. Making the effort to be more truthful in our internal and external communication, leads us to amazing places.
Individually we reach higher levels of personal integrity and communally we reach higher levels of trust and authenticity.
Both of these can only fuel our personal and collective higher purpose.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editorial Assistant: Ffion Jones / Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo: Authors own