This blog is the third and final installment in a three-part series on entrepreneurship and the distinct opportunities inherent in creating and working for entrepreneurial organizations. In the first part, we looked at entrepreneurship providing the framework to make a major impact in the world. In the second blog, we explored the opportunity that entrepreneurship provides to create a “Thank God It’s Monday (TGIM)” culture. In this piece, we will look at how entrepreneurship creates the opportunity for personal, individual flourishing.
Flourish is one of my favorite words. Probably because it enjoys a variety of dictionary definitions:
· to be in a vigorous state, to thrive;
· to be in its or in one’s prime, height of fame, excellence or influence;
· to be successful and prosper;
· to grow luxuriantly or thrive in growth; and
· to grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way, especially as the result of a particularly favorable environment.
Wow. After reading that list, I can’t imagine anyone not wanting to flourish! I am specifically drawn to that last definition on the list. Growing vigorously especially as the result of a particularly favorable environment. Over the last five to ten years, I have experienced firsthand, and have witnessed hundreds of times, individuals thriving within entrepreneurial environments. While such environments are typical of start-ups and small organizations, I have also seen personal flourishing occurring in entrepreneurial teams within much larger organizations.
Just what is it about entrepreneurial environments that make them such fertile soil for personal flourishing? I can think of at least three reasons.
Entrepreneurial Environments Provide Opportunity for Alignment of Personal Purpose and Passion
Each of us has a special story that is uniquely ours. Central elements of our story are a sense of personal purpose and particular passions or areas of interest. Entrepreneurial environments offer the opportunity to align our personal purpose and our personal passion with the mission and vision of the organization. At the same time, we’ll gain new perspective on how our individual story, the stories within the entrepreneurial community and God’s much bigger story all fit together. Indeed, I’ve seen flourishing released numerous times as a person gains a strong sense of his or her personal story and is afforded the privilege to align it with a group of others that share a common mission.
Entrepreneurial Environments Provide Opportunity for Risk-Taking, Challenge and Personal Growth
As I noted in the previous post, if entrepreneurial environments are anything, they are greenhouses for human growth. Always new problems to solve. Always new risks to assess and take. Always ample opportunity for meaningful, challenging work. Meaningful work naturally springs from tackling difficult problems, taking risks and creating novel solutions to bring to the marketplace. Invariably, through this kind of work, we’ll be stretched and we’ll grow. In short, we’ll flourish.
Entrepreneurial Environments Provide Opportunity for Natural Integration of Faith and Work
Jesus said in John 6:40 “Anyone who…aligns with Him, will enter real life, eternal life.” (MSG). There are over 20 similar references to real life in the gospel of John. And I absolutely believe Jesus had our work in mind when he spoke of real life. He intentionally placed us on the earth to fulfill the cultural mandate of taking charge of the creation in a godly, loving way. He intentionally called us to be co-creators with him. He intentionally brings us into relationship with him to partner in “setting things right”. All of these are part of experiencing real life in Christ.
Entrepreneurial environments are ideal for allowing us to see the very natural integration of our faith with our work. Bureaucracy is minimal. Organizational layers are often non-existent. Politics are minimized. There is a direct, tangible opportunity to connect one’s personal role with the organization’s strategic objectives. And perhaps as important as anything, the missional essence of the company can be apprehended and experienced first-hand.
And the more we see our work and faith lives as integrated with one another – and with all other life arenas -- the more we will be freed from the debilitating effect of compartmentalizing. We will experience our life roles merging to produce what Jesus called real, abundant life.
What About You?
Are you called to be an entrepreneur or be a participant in an entrepreneurial environment? Could your story be empowered through an entrepreneurial organization – either one of your own doing or a team to which you’re invited? As you contemplate these questions, use these more granular questions to help you decide:
· Do I hear the voice of God’s Spirit directing me to step out and take a risk?
· Who do I have around me to support and encourage me on my journey?
· How might my faith become richer if I take this step?
· How might I grow and be stretched – and personally flourish – if I embrace this opportunity?