22 February 2016 15:29:35 IST

The warrior and the leader: what it takes to practice value-based entrepreneurship

Following some key principles and values will help entrepreneurs and leaders appreciate life and work

As an an entrepreneur, I am aware that I am ‘an unfinished leader’ — that I am a work in progress.

I am no less human than those I lead, perhaps in many ways, I am even doubtful of the steps I take as I go forward on the path I tread. All I know is that I am ahead of those who follow me and that I am hacking my way through the forest of uncertainty — sometimes in despair and pain yet filledwith hope and faith.

My evolution takes me through conflict of choice. Thus the position I am in comes with a boon and a curse. I have the boon of choosing and the curse of the conflicts I must face when I make my choices.

Yet I realise that the conflict I experience resides in the boundaries of my own mind.

As a leader and an entrepreneur, I will have to negotiate not only the urgent but also the emergent. I need to attend to my unfinished business, and that is the fight within. I have to focus before I can aim for the bull’s eye. Thus I have to first focus on my inner resolve.

In my journey as an entrepreneur, I have had to contend with several countervailing forces. Yet I have preserved by adopting a simple lifestyle and by exercising my choices. The ways of living and the choices I have made have come through the values that I have adopted.

In working with my colleagues and staff, I have attempted to establish shared values that define the fundamental character of the organisation I oversee. I have thus been able to create a sense of identity for myself and for those who have worked with me in the organisation. This makes me, and each one around me, feel special.

As the adage goes, “Charity begins at home,” I have had to start with myself. Eleven principles define the way I have operated:

All relationships are co-created

There is no dance form, in any culture, that can be performed alone. Even in dance where the protagonist is alone on the floor, he or she creates for the viewer the impression and the visual of another. It could be one’s alter-ego, a lover, nature or simply another human being. Thus it is my belief that in any relationship, it takes two of us — the ‘I’, which is me and the ‘thou’ which is you — to make the relationship work. I can only take responsibility for my share of the relationship and the other needs to take equal responsibility for the effective functioning of the collaboration. Thus the value of co-creation becomes paramount.

As an entrepreneurial leader, I walk the step with you and expect that you do your share of to make it work as we journey forward.

The need to appreciate self and others

If I cannot learn to appreciate and value who I am and my contribution, I will not be able to appreciate or value others. As the good book says, “What I do unto self, I do unto others.” The value of self-appreciation thus becomes the basis for my existence.

Accept yourself and others unconditionally

Unless I learn to unconditionally accept myself with all my warts, scars, shadows I will not be able to accept the others the same way. If I accept myself conditionally, I will only be able to recognise the other person with their limitations.

Life is a poem, interpreted differently by different people

When we read a poem, we make our own meaning of it. Yet when the poem has been completely distilled, we will recognise there is a common thread, a sutra that runs across our understanding of the poem and the understanding of others who have read the poem as well. I learn to appreciate different points of view and also acknowledge the similarities. I can disagree with others, but I do not have to be disagreeable.

The ability to choose my attitude

My attitude determines the choices I make and how I look at opportunities or failures. If I see possibilities rather than limitations, I am able to expand my vision and vista, thus becoming a victor rather than a victim.

What I believe is what I choose to see

The nature of man is to either confirm and ratify or deny and disprove. When we undertake research, we construct a hypothesis and work towards proving or disproving it. Similarly, when I believe something or someone is good I look for signs that endorse that belief. Likewise, if I believe something or someone is not good, I attempt to prove it. Thus the value of nurturing an enabling belief system is critical.

To ask questions in non-violent ways that are enabling and supportive

We often address one another in violent ways. While my intent is positive, I tend to ask a question which is invariably framed in judgement and evaluation. Thus it is important that I choose my words and the manner in which I interact; in the process enhancing my ability to interact in an enabling fashion.

To recognise that growth only happens when there is positive and non-toxic energy

Life does not distinguish between good and bad. However, the stronger of the two energies, be it positive or negative, tends to attract attention. It is therefore important that I nourish positive intent.

Be present in a relationship continuously

Zero-based budgeting encourages dropping past data of the other and working with ‘what is’ and the ‘now.’ Thus it is important to bracket previous judgments, ideas and opinions of others and see the person in a fresh light, and therefore focusing on the ‘here and now’ rather than the ‘then and there.’

Celebrate and enjoy your existence

Life is short and we are given only one opportunity to make the most of it. To recognise life as a gift helps us to continuously celebrate and enjoy the bounty that surrounds us. To celebrate and enjoy the moment, to play, to make another’s day will stand us in continuous and good stead.

To seek continuous improvement in self

Kaizen encourages us to make slow yet continuous improvement on ourselves and not attempt to cross a large chasm in one leap. This helps us to constantly improve, better ourselves and rise to the occasion. To leap across a gorge which is vast and deep in one attempt will cause us to falter and fall.

Finally the value that I have practised as an entrepreneur is what Goethe said several centuries ago: If you treat an individual as he is, he will remain how he is. But if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be.

In short, “Treat people as they are meant to become and they will rise like a phoenix.”

( The writer is an organisational and behavioural consultant. He can be contacted at ttsrinath@gmail.com )