A Forbes blog on Entrepreneurship invites the reader to “rate yourself for how well you mirror entrepreneur characteristics.” I was troubled by their list. The blog listed five characteristics (blog says six) necessary to be an entrepreneur. I think some are true, but minimally important, and others can lead to missteps. The five are: Fervent, Wily, Selfless, Optimistically Pessimistic and Self-aware. I will get back to these, but first let me list what I see as characteristics of The Responsible Entrepreneur.

  Seven Characteristics of The Responsible Entrepreneur: My question is not, how well you match the characteristic, but how mindful you are in your practice and are you working on them. Give yourself up to five points on each one. 0-35 is your scoring possibility.

  1. Essence connected—Connected to what makes you personally unique and distinctive. Your essence is the source of innovation in product development and connection with customers in the market. If you are disconnected from your essence you are easily displaced. (0-5 pts)
  2. Imperturbable—You are not thrown by shortfalls; restraints on the path, or seemingly impossible callings. You do not take things personally and so can work on the situation for what it is. You see everything not only as a learning possibility but as a developmental opportunity; one that grows you as a person. (0-5 pts)
  3. Positive Contrarian—The biggest risk for all humans on their path to contribution is being mechanical, where we look for practices to borrow and ideas to adopt. Where we do not think for ourselves. Contrarianism is not about being negative, but rather about questioning “majority or long held opinions”. The key is that you question with critical thinking in mind. Being contrarian means that you enter a dialogue looking for what is missing, or you seek to understand from what paradigm the idea is coming (e.g. machine, behavioral, regenerative). You question everything, but not from the perspective of a cynic. You see the good intentions and work to lift the idea to the next higher level, acknowledging you are standing on the shoulders of others.
  4. Critical Systems Thinker—Working to overcome mechanicalness in thinking and acting and getting past fragmentation are critical to The Responsible Entrepreneur.  Living Systems thinking is the best instrument for this work because it draws from principles and structuring found in living system rather than artificial systems. It invites everyone to think better, putting the ego to work for purposes that matter.
  5. Conscious—This is an extremely practical capability. It means we can set aims for changing “ourselves” and whole systems. We can separate “one part of us out” to watch as “we” start to take action. We are not only self-aware but self-directed, self-correcting and self-managing.  As a result we are able to also work for the good of the whole, not just ourselves.
  6. Purposeful—This means to move beyond our own ego and connection to a personal purpose. Purpose exists in systems and is interactive. So to be purposeful is to be in service of a purpose greater than just ourselves.  We know we have a critical and reciprocally maintaining role to play for a purpose to be achieved.
  7. Optionator: (versus opinionator)—This is the ability to have back up plans, the next idea when one does not work, to use shortfalls as a source of creativity and to see ideation as the way to lift spirit and creativity. We often draw the next idea from reminding ourselves of  why we are pursuing a particular effort and the meaning of the outcome.

Your Score: __________   Part B: The Challenges of Fervent, Wily and Selfless. I have trouble with these three of the cited characteristics in the Forbes blog.  Please take away points from your above score if these play too big a role.

Fervent: Passionate enthusiasm is a popular idea with danger in it, since it has more downside than up. The idea of tenacity is necessary to keep on a path. It is not complete, however. Entrepreneurship is often associated with the idea of “Passion” as a particular form of tenacity. I think “passion” is a misunderstanding of what is really needed. Passion most often comes with attachment. The entrepreneur becomes unable to separate themselves from their idea and becomes identified with being right in all aspects. It then becomes very difficult to listen and learn, much less develop and grow. Passion (dangerously close to obsession) needs to move to compassion and then to caring. Caring is beyond kindness and is relentless in getting to a greater potential, where all stakeholders thrive and evolve. It is not about My success, but The success.

Wily: Wily is associated with crafty and being devious, which can dictate non-transparency. In fact, wily is the opposite of open. Wily is done with trickery. For any particular entrepreneur, there is no call for openness. It is their business and they can get there anyway they want, that is legal. Not so, for The Responsible Entrepreneurs. They do have to be smart and creative, but with an eye to the effect of their action on others. As a result, because of their openness, they get a lot more help.

Selfless:  Selfless suggests that you take yourself out of the equation. I have the same problem with this idea that I do with environmentalist who think humans have to get out of the way with nature. We are nature. We are an embedded living system in nature. To be selfless is not to understand ‘reciprocal maintenance”. All the entities in a system are intricately interwoven and all need nourishment and all contribute. All play a role. The same is true for the entrepreneur. She or he is  a contributing whole in the system and has a contributing role. To be selfless is to assume you need nothing and to sacrifice your vitality. Better to be purposeful, which imbeds the self in the system and all succeed from a system that works.

Net Score: ________________