CEO Blog 15: SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS, KEEP GOOD COMPANY!

18 May 2021

 

Social entrepreneurs are surrounded by many people who matter to them and their purpose, some feed it positively while others, no matter what, are there to bring them down. In these challenging times, choosing the right people around YOU are the key to winning and keeping sane. Nurturing relationships that empower us is a great attribute of a leader, paying heed to those who are better than us is the mightiest of all strengths.

 

सत्संगत्वे निस्संगत्वं, निस्संगत्वे निर्मोहत्वं

निर्मोहत्वे निश्चलतत्त्वं, निश्चलतत्त्वे जीवन्मुक्तिः

 

By and large we choose people who are part of us:

A general term ‘Entrepreneurship Enablers’ is used in the literature on entrepreneurship, which essentially means ‘people behind the people’ who create and build businesses and social enterprises to help bring about economic and social regeneration. So, following this, it would be pertinent to say that every entrepreneur would have people around him/her who support him or her to emerge and grow in the first place. And, as they grow, these individuals (entrepreneurs) choose more people to be around them – be it the members of the board, investors, donors, customers, mentors and many others whom they believe can help them move ahead. However, some of them are chosen while others are given as a by-product of their business. The role of enablers is essential, and many a time, they are not recognized. They are unsung and their contribution is unquantified, given the story of one’s business. On the other hand, there are many who we do not need to pay much attention to, but they end up affecting us more and often drain us of our positive energy. So, Beware!

 

‘Self-Care’ has the power to keep you happy:

We have seen more than 100+ social entrepreneurs in their powerful journey in social entrepreneurship. The social entrepreneurs marked the start of their journey by one or more of these characteristics –

  • an individual or a group of conceived the idea OR/AND
  • the idea includes both an innovative solution to a social problem and the launch of a new product or service OR/AND
  • no organizational structure existed for the innovation to start OR/AND
  • the initiators were taking visible action aimed at the development of the idea AND
  • even if they started alone or in a group very soon, they had a group of individuals they were interacting with for many different needs of their idea development and business.

We dealt with many issues related to cofounders, investors, and board management. It became apparent that the identity of ‘SELF’ for the entrepreneur was the critical factor to be taken care of if this person had to go ahead with his/her idea. And, this ‘Self-Care’ has emerged as an essential factor in current times when the pandemic has hit all small and medium businesses alike, creating the need for change in business models and some ‘wait and watch’ situation. In such times, the entrepreneurs’ conversations with people around them could bear colossal importance for their well-being. And we must be cautious!

 

Power of ‘Self-Talk’, the words you speak become the house you live in:

One of the immediate effects of having negative people around you are that you become a complainer and a negative person yourself. You will find yourself wallowing in your problems & no more able to focus on finding solutions to your problems – which was an effective entrepreneurial trait in YOU till yesterday – finding solutions? So, choose your battles wisely and stand your ground when the time is right & this can only happen when you can timely distance yourself from people who suck your energy and trigger your reactions rather than your thoughtful response. In all this time, we do not forget the conversations that we have with ourselves. ‘Self-Talk’ holds a lot of power when we are led into uncertainty, and in today’s world and time, the only sure thing is ‘uncertainty. We are humans, and in such stressful times, we are prone to be fearful, anxious and experience panic, stress like anyone else does. There is no harm in acknowledging it and recognizing it. What would be important that once you acknowledge what do you do about it? Usually, the immediate reaction is to slip into self-doubt and worry about tomorrow. Constructive self-talk that is motivational, reflective, insightful does good to us, and better will come when you open up to someone and share your fears & anxiety. We must remember that we cannot help others if we are not in a good place, so secure yourself with enough oxygen before you help others. Laird Hamilton, the American surfer, said it best when he said, “Make sure your worst enemy doesn’t live between your own two ears.”

I am reminded of a verse from Adi Shankara’s (one of the greatest philosopher of India) Bhaj Govindam:

 

सत्संगत्वे निस्संगत्वं, निस्संगत्वे निर्मोहत्वं

 निर्मोहत्वे निश्चलतत्त्वं, निश्चलतत्त्वे जीवन्मुक्तिः

 Satsangatve nissangatvam nissangatve nirmohatvam,

 nirmohatve niscalatattvam niscalatattve jivanmuktih.- 9

 

It translates to “through the company of the wise or the good; there arises non-attachment; from non-attachment comes freedom from delusion; where there is freedom from delusion, there is abidance in self-knowledge, which leads to freedom while alive”.

This is the story of many of us, the social entrepreneurs in current times. We seem to be swept away by the current of life and, in the process, lose our focus on the actual goal – and for us, it is the cause that we work for. Let us not forget that we need a suitable environment to grow in much the same way as a plant. The company of those who have wisdom and insight exerts a positive influence upon us, and this can completely change our lives and lead it towards self-growth. This self-growth must be realized and pursued, for that is vital in our pursuit of happiness. Company of the excellent and wise helps us keep our minds tranquil and not be agitated by the undercurrents of toxicity around us. This leads to deeper insights and engagement with self-knowledge – and we become liberated, essentially meaning overcoming our innate fears, anxieties while we are alive. That is the true purpose of life, being liberated while in this body.

I could not find a better verse or parallel to put forth my thoughts.

Shalabh Mittal,

CEO, SSE India