At the recent TiE Rockies Business for Breakfast, we explored two myths and an alternate path through this liminal dimension:
Myth 1: Corporate Perspective: We Become Our Role
For those of you who have visited other countries or operated cross-culturally, you know that such experiences make you more aware of your native culture. For example, you may find yourself backing up when talking with someone who keeps stepping closer: Americans like lots of room. You may believe that visitors from another country seem insecure because they refuse to make eye contact; in fact, in some cultures, it’s rude to make eye contact. Alternatively, you may show the bottom of your feet to people from a Muslim culture and wonder why they act so offended; you have just directly insulted them.
In the same way, we unwittingly become not only our role but also our company.
How will you know? When you change roles or companies, you will realize where you came from. You will feel adrift; you might feel a loss of self.
Myth 2: Entrepreneur’s Perspective: We Become Our Company
For those of you running a business, your role requires an unconscious “scope creep.” It’s difficult to separate the elation of acquiring a new client or the sorrow at losing a valued client from your personal life. “It’s just business” is both a cliché and a painful mirror to look into.
In the same way, it’s more difficult to separate ourselves from our company when we are used to wearing the hats of Founder/CEO, VP of Sales, VP of Marketing, VP of Finance, and VP of HR/Operations.
Third Way: We Become Ourselves And Are Able To Drop Our “Toolkit”
A couple of weeks ago I talked about the challenge of learning to drop your toolkits.
Along the way to creating a mature business, you can learn to relinquish the necessary roles you have held as you built your business. On the way to business maturity, you can become your truest self. You can grow begin to grow around your “imaginal cells.”
I learned of the concept of “imaginal cells” at an #FPA think tank retreat. Susan Bradley of Sudden Money described passing through this liminal dimension as the process of transformation wherein a caterpillar transforms to a butterfly:
The transformation itself is amazing. Think of it as recycling–if you drop a plastic bottle off in the recycling bin, it can be melted down into an entirely different shape. This is what happens inside the chrysalis. Much of the body breaks itself down into imaginal cells, which are undifferentiated–like stem cells, they can become any type of cell. The imaginal cells put themselves back together into a new shape.
As we become ourselves and reorganize around the “imaginal cells” of our truest self, we can emerge from our business cocoon as most full ourselves. We no longer have to be our role or our company!
Consider the following questions to identify where your “imaginal cells” are gathering:
What are the items you found that you loved doing more of?
How would you describe your unique DNA?
What tools do you need to drop so that you can accelerate the clumping of your imaginal cells?