Everybody has heard the advice do what you love and the money will follow, right?
Unfortunately it’s not quite true. In fact, I’ve got a $400,000.00 lesson that I’ll share with you later on. However, running your enterprise from the fullest expression of love can and WILL create the meaningful success that matters. Yes, we’re moving into some slightly uncharted waters combining the words ‘love’ and ‘work’ together but stick with me.
What does the ‘fullest expression of love’ look like?
Like anything and everything it always starts with you. Our responsibility is always on our shoulders first. And looking at the Evolved Enterprise diagram the founder (you) is at the center:
That’s because a business is always a reflection of the leader’s evolution.
The wild thing is even if someone appears to be successful, they still could very well be existing in a slumbering type of halfhearted state. Frankly, I’ve made a lot of money without totally applying myself fully.
And that’s not because I don’t care about my ventures or customers. If you get the mechanics around delivering exceptional value correct – you will be rewarded. But I think you can take it to another level. I’ve seen it over and over again with individuals seeming to have a great business but they are not fulfilled at a deeper level. They think business is just business and don’t consider how it could be their art. And that’s why so many people start looking for creative (or sometimes self destructive) outlets to compensate for not being totally engaged. Then that lack of energy carries over to your team, your work, and your customers. Truly everything.
I know because I’ve seen it first hand…
About 7 years ago, I made a significant transition. I went from ‘just’ being an Internet marketer teaching and helping others sell their knowledge online to my next evolution. I couldn’t see doing what I was doing for another decade or more. This wasn’t a complete 180. There were still so many parts that were fulfilling in what I was doing and that left clues for a bigger, more expanded version of where I thought I’d like to play.
The idea for Maverick was rolling around in my journal for a long time and it really hit on so many things that lit me up; working with innovative entrepreneurs who not only wanted to grow themselves and their business, but also having a genuine impact in the world – while having some fun in the process. Truly changing the way business is played.
Of course, I could have easily decided to continue doing what I’ve always done and let those ‘golden handcuffs’ get tighter and tighter.
To me, it was almost like an awakening in a sense, and everybody goes through it at their own time and in their own way. The best way to think about this was an example my 6-year old daughter, Zoe provided. She really, really wanted a ‘wiggly’ tooth so bad. She kept checking her teeth but nothing was going on. Then finally she lost her first tooth a few months ago and 4 more followed in quick order.
Everything comes at the right time.
We can either resist this ‘cosmic alarm clock’ or lean into and embrace the transition into something bigger and better.
Granted it’s not always a frictionless transformation. But those thoughts you have of ‘there’s something bigger I could be playing at’ or rationalizing work as just work. Those are all indicators that change is coming. Part of my evolution was truly deciding if I was really committed to what I was building with the Maverick Ecoverse or not. And that commitment was a bit trickier after my personal income took a nosedive sinking about $400,000.00 into the venture before figuring it out.
This is where following what you love becomes a huge double-edged sword by simply and blindly following a passion without an established business model. Plus, if you have a pretty much carte blanche checkbook that doesn’t help either because you continue to throw more and more cash into it instead of thinking of creative solutions. (Yes, this was one of those times I didn’t follow my own advice with Maverick Rule #16 Bootstrap. Having too much capital leads to incredible waste and doing things using conventional means.)
So what happens?
Well you’ll continue getting bonked on the head with increased severity if you don’t figure it out. For me, it took finally selling my Aston Martin to cover payroll in order to make the changes we needed to get profitable. But I’m thankful for those experiences because it forced me to truly decide if the vision for what we were building was worth it or not. And that’s where passion really helps you with perseverance. Of course, you’re going to encounter set-backs and any venture is a zig-zagging process. And it was my love for the bigger mission – and that kept me going to figure out how to make it work.
One of my favorite questions during this period has been, ‘What would you do even if you knew it would fail?’
I believe I heard this from Brene Brown inside her awesome book Daring Greatly. It makes you think if whatever you’re doing is worth your life’s energy or not?
It’s an even better question than one you may have heard before, ‘What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?’ The refined version forces you consider putting in your full heart & soul regardless of the outcome. This is something I’ve been practicing more and more after studying it through one of my favorite recent books The Great Work of Your Life: A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling by Stephen Cope.
Putting in the work (if it’s from a true place of meaning) is enough reward. Sometimes that concept may be difficult, but if we’re awaiting outside praise or recognition we’re always beholden to it.
So if you can truly awaken from the autopilot nature of where you are – you can start to stir a deeper sense of direction. And that inner guide has the key to what you can be doing to re-invent or re-work your company or yourself.
And at the highest expression is LOVE.
Loving yourself and honoring yourself shows up in many ways. It takes time and it’s an ongoing process. I’ll recommend my friend, Kamal Ravikant’s book, ‘Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It.
It’s a very personal story Kamal took as CEO of a venture-backed company in Silicon Valley and he went from depressed and blackness to fully engaged and living at an optimal level. You’ll have to challenge yourself to do the exercises in here for significant results.
Lately I’m seeing a lot of Maverick members and colleagues in a state of transition. Maybe it’s because I’ve personally gone through this and come out the other side that I’m seeing it more and more. But I’m not so sure that’s why it’s showing up more. It truly feels like accomplished entrepreneurs want to know ‘What’s next?’ And the same thing that got them to where they are now won’t necessarily take them to a higher place. But you can get there by continually expressing your deepest and most honest love for yourself and your gifts. (These are some of my favorite conversations with Maverick1000 members.)
When you’re fully utilizing everything you were designed to do there’s a complete sense of divine inspiration and time stands still. The more you can truly ‘know yourself’ the better you can recognize where your sweet spot is. I’ve taken multiple personal assessment tests and would recommend Wealth Dynamics, StrengthsFinder, Kolbe and even the Enneagram. I don’t know why we’re wired this way, maybe it comes from when you were a kid and brought home your report card with all ‘A’s’ except one ‘C’ and your parents focused on the ‘C’. But for some reason we don’t really focus and develop our strengths that come naturally. Those are the sweet spots that bring more joy and energy into everything we do.
Aligning With Your Shadow
Part of my journey has also been going deeper and exploring my ‘shadow’. This is a Jungian concept for a part that we want to repress and hold back typically from the light. And many times it comes up in all sorts of ways. It could be road rage and yelling at other people in traffic in front of your kids, it could be sexually acting out, it could be continually beating yourself up for not being good enough. One way you can often recognize a shadow is a behavior you see in others that elicits a charged reaction in you that really bothers you.
Essentially, everyone around you can be a mirror for yourself and if there’s something that bothers you – usually it’s because you have this behavior and haven’t acknowledged it. Many times just bringing awareness to your shadow is a fast step forward to integrating it more fully into who you are.
Personally, one of my shadows was recognizing I was not ever giving 100%.
I could see an interesting pattern looking back on my life. For instance in college, I’d go out the night before a big exam, come in late into the lecture hall smelling like bourbon, borrow a pencil and be the first one out. Even with that – I’d still get a solid ‘B’. And with my businesses, I’ve always done well and over-delivered but I’ve never given my everything. If I’m being totally honest, it’s probably because that leaves a little room to justify results if they are not what you hoped for.
As I mentioned before, echoing the Great Work of Your Life book – by putting your full essence behind something, you let go of the outcome because your full effort is reward by itself.
Loving yourself is also about taking care of yourself. One of my very astute friends, Richard Rossi, likes to ask ‘How would you treat a million dollar racehorse?’ Would you feed them junk? Would you let them not get enough rest? Would they get training whenever they felt like it? Or instead, would there be consciousness and intentionality in what you do? Of course there would. And you can probably guess where Richard was going with this – you’re the million-dollar racehorse. Actually I’d bet you’re worth significantly more than a mil.
But how are you treating yourself?
The Daily Return Path to Joy, Happiness and Bliss was part of my experiment to see how I can purposely work on making sure I’m the best I can be each day.
Am I perfect? No, not at all but I know I’m consistently evolving and growing.
Loving yourself fully changes the dynamics of how everyone around you reacts to you too. Because if we’re honoring your authentic vision there’s no time to say ‘Yes’ when you really should be saying ‘No’ to things that don’t support this. So many entrepreneurs I know are wired to be giving but they don’t make space for themselves.
One of my most recent practices to create space for myself has been meditating. So far I’m at 20 minutes per day in the morning. I know quite a few entrepreneurs who meditate and it’s becoming bigger and bigger. In fact, it came up in a big way as I was prepping to interview hip-hop mogul, Russell Simmons for a private Q&A with Russell and a Yoga session for Maverick members.
Going through his latest book, Success through Stillness, the entire work is really devoted to meditation, yoga and a deeper stillness applied to business. I decided to make a commitment right there to try it in my life.
His deep conviction for these pieces helped take his game to a whole new level and really impressed me. (The funny thing is Russell will candidly admit he only started going to yoga to check out hot ladies!) Also, I’d been paying attention to more and more research about the scientific benefits of meditation – so I decided to go for it. I can’t say it’s been a light switch type moment where my world has completely changed, but it’s a practice and one that I look forward to now each day. In these moments of stillness, I feel like I get centered on what’s important and what’s not.
I see working on your own evolution as holographic for your business since we know everything really stems from you as the leader. Meaning a change to ‘you’ creates a change in your business too. It really does work that way.
And it’s this full expression of love that shows up in different facets of your company, team and customers.
By law, a corporation is its own entity, right? So as an entity (AKA a ‘body’), the analogy would continue that there is a ‘Soul’ inside. It might sound really odd but I think that’s true. Your business can stand for something more and just like we evolve, your business’ purpose can evolve too.
A venture could be created with the purpose of simply maximizing bottom line profit, or it could be upped one level by having a distinctive mission or big ‘Why’. (Though I truly believe they are not mutually exclusive. In the Evolved Enterprise framework your bottom line is actually enhanced by a bigger mission.)
An conscious business is a catalyst to enhance every area of the business starting internally with culture…
Regardless if you set an intentional culture or not, there’s always a culture internally within your company.
Your employees could be showing up just for their paycheck at the lowest level of engagement, coming together for the culture one level up or because they truly believe they’re playing a part in something bigger.
And what if your goal as the leader was to help everyone on your team become the fullest expression of themselves? Same as your personal evolution, right? Your company becomes the container and catalyst for growth, learning and complete expression of their gifts & talents. Not everyone is wired to do their own thing but when you can give your team a ‘sandbox’ to build their dreams, they win and you win. Zappos is a well-praised poster child (for good reason) lately for taking their culture of happiness seriously. Just one of the perks there is having a ‘dream manager’ who helps their team figure out their dreams (i.e. owning a house, etc.) and making it happen. That’s huge. Starbucks has just raised their commitment to their team members by reimbursing them for online education.
On our team we start with strengths testing and then through some trial and error help members experiment and move into roles best suited for them. We’re not perfect at this but we’re continually growing. And you can see changes in engagement when people feel they could bring their full selves to work. It makes a big difference.
I’m really proud of this note I got from a Maverick Team Green member just the other day:
“I just want to say thank you for listening to my ideas and giving me the space to grow them. I have never experienced this type of freedom in my job and cannot even begin to express how much it means to me. I am very passionate about working towards positive change in our world. There is nothing I aspire to more than to be in a place where I can really help people. So once again, thank you for giving me the opportunity to realize my dreams. I love Maverick – the team and the members.”
If I’m just selling something without a bigger meaning, I’m simply selling to sell no matter what. But raising the intention up a level is a consultative sale. But still on a whole different level is falling in love with your prospect. And if you’re in love with them that means you could do what’s in your customer’s true best interest. Which sometimes means no sale – but other times it means you must do everything in your power to get them to buy because you know the positive results they’ll have.
If you love your prospect, you would be doing them a disservice to not get them to purchase, right? It’s a subtle but dramatic difference. And if there’s true love with the product or service that also creates a higher-level engagement with your customers/members/clients.
On the lowest level of our triangle people are simply getting a need met. Your product or service is their solution so it’s transactional. At the next level there is a community being built with a true identity tied in. (I shared an entire segment on Community Code 2.0: Building Beloved Brand Builders at the last Underground® event.) And finally at the highest level of expanded love, your customers see it as their responsibility to actually ‘convert’ others. Yes, almost evangelical.
Don’t get me wrong about everything I’ve just covered. I think business is already a value driver and server or else it would be out of business, but by truly adding a genuine element of love it could be so much more. It can move from transactional, to transformational or even transcending business as usual. It could be an Evolved Enterprise.
What do you think? What have you seen that reflects a fuller expression of something bigger through business?