The Ironman Triathlon is aptly named. The competition consists these back-to-back events, in this order: a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride, and a marathon (26.2 miles). To participate in this triathlon is to test the limits of both one’s inner and outer motivation, purpose and identity.
As a fan of Iron Man movies, I am similarly struck at how Iron Man’s arc reactor is an analog for both triathlons and business ownership. Billionaire engineer Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, was near death from shrapnel threatening to pierce his heart; he created the arc reactor to power an electromagnet to keep the shrapnel at bay. Business owners who have a sense of purpose (or a calling) also protect their hearts.
If Iron Man can’t survive without the arc reactor keeping shrapnel from piercing his heart—how can you ;-)?
Through conversations, I’ve repeatedly heard that a common challenge business owners face is when their sense of purpose seems either disembodied or disconnected from their business. It no longer powers their electromagnets. They’ve allowed the arc reactor of purpose to stop working to protect their hearts.
For those who find their deepest joy in a cause apart from the work they do, these two efforts are compartmentalized. Even so, every business owner faces challenging seasons when the business consumes so much of their life energy, their resources of time and their money, that they cannot devote time to their causes outside the business.
(More on how the arc reactor can help these business owners next week.)
Even those who find intrinsic joy in the work they do–in the company they own–may find they’ve allowed the shrapnel of business and life pierce their heart.
Speaking of hearts…David Whyte (The Three Marriages) describes the three marriages as three interlocking rings: our marriage to self, our marriage to another and our marriage to work. About work he says,
The marriage of work has everything to do with the romance of the everyday” (307).
…From the outside very little seems to be happening but in good work we return every day to the desk or the workbench to push it along a little further. …Where the intensity of focus is deep enough, we seem to feel as if time is actually radiating out from the place we stand. In good work we occupy a frontier between what has been done and what is about to be done, both giving almost an equal sense of satisfaction. (308-09).
“We seem to feel as if time is actually radiating out from the place we stand…”
When we experience this kind of flow–of time radiating out from where we stand–I believe it’s because our arc reactor preserves our purpose (electromagnet) to keep us focused on what we love in our work. We have refused to allow the distractions of the inevitable “ugly” parts of our companies to consume us.
Next week: learn about a company that has an uniquely powerful, self-regenerating arc reactor.
We are all wired differently.
- If you’re an “outie” you may be more drawn to purpose outside the business. Check out The Case for Outies.
What one thing can you do this week to remember your arc reactor?
- If you’re an “innie” you may want and need to find your purpose lived out in and through your business. Check out The Case for Innies.
What one thing can you do this week to power up your arc reactor?