“People who learn to control inner experience will be able to determine the quality of their lives, which is as close as any of us can come to being happy.”
— Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Over the last two years or so, the term innerpreneur has cropped up to describe a type of business owner who has existed without label. What they all share is the common desire to start a business designed to make a difference in the world, and one that emphasizes the personal growth of the employees who work within it.
Tara Joyce, a prominent innerpreneur herself, sums the term up as “An entrepreneur who starts a business to find personal fulfillment (spiritually, emotionally, creatively) and wants to make a positive difference.
“Basically, it’s meaningful capitalism — business as a means to improve yourself and the world.”
This is a radical departure from the paycheck/profit grind; in this new model, people choose to work for the intrinsic happiness and fulfillment that comes with growing themselves.
The term first appeared in a book by Ron Rentel to describe those who are working to constantly learn and evolve, realize their full potential, and make a difference in the world. Let’s take a slightly closer look the opportunities for innerpreneurs, and why it may be a worthwhile path for you.
• Inner work
Innerpreneurs typically have a daily practice such as meditation or prayer, which has the dual purpose of providing greater context to the work they perform while offering insights into their own nature. They also view every action in their business as an opportunity to grow personally. Whether it’s answering the phone, dealing with a challenge, or hiring new people, an innerpreneur is constantly striving to be aware of how they act and react in an ever-changing business environment.
• The New Economy
As the economy shifts, our societal values shift accordingly, as we begin to redefine and answer questions like: “What’s important? What’s worth spending money on? Is there something more valuable?”
That creates exactly the right environment for innerpreneurship to flourish. Big business jobs are on the decline, and micro-enterprise is on the rise, creating a plethora of work options that offer more than “a one size fits all” work environment. Also, recent research confirms that values-centered organizations outperform organizations that simply focus on the bottom line.
• It’s not just for hippies
You may be looking at this and considering innerpreneurship as a clever way to escape inward and avoid the day-to-day business life. On the contrary, innerpreneurship is deep and full engagement in the business and its success. It is vital that an innerpreneur fully engage to get the best benefits both internally (happy, productive employees and healthy revenue streams) and externally (a planet populated by more nurturing, values-centered individuals.)
• How to be an innerpreneur
It all begins with re-evaluating context, or looking at old problems as new opportunities.
First, begin by shifting your perception, viewing work as the means to grow, rather than simply the means by which to make a profit.
Second, adopt a daily practice to cultivate awareness and equipoise. We can’t learn and grow in a state of reactivity — only when one is self-aware can growth happen, and that takes looking inside on a sustained basis.
Finally, consider continuity. We’ll forget from time to time that we are an innerpreneur, and slip into old habits or patterns. It takes constant effort to bring our business mind back into perspective and consider decisions from an innerpreneurship mode.
Why is all this important? Simply because a new leadership paradigm is afoot — one that requires leaders, entrepreneurs and those atop their organizations to walk their talk and cultivate a sense of inner understanding to be most effective as leaders. You’ve likely heard a version of this already, but it’s been proven true: You have to be able to lead yourself before you can effectively lead others.
Are you ready to be an innerpreneur? Your employees, and the planet, certainly are.
This article was published in the December 5, 2010 issue of the Asheville Citizen-Times. You can view the article online at: http://www.citizen-times.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2010312050035
John Miles is CEO/Chief of What’s Next at Integritive, an Asheville firm specializing in web design & development, strategic planning, social media and e-marketing. For more information: www.integritive.com on twitter www.twitter.com/integritiveJM