We need a new definition of entrepreneurship: The Servant Entrepreneur, someone who always places service above profits. Like the Servant Leader, this is someone who is not in it for the perqs, but for the honor of doing service. Not for the ego rush, but the fulfillment of purpose.
When I say, "someone who always places service above profits", I don't mean that the Servant Entrepreneur is any less savvy as a business person; He/she's still and entrepreneur. But service is first.
Thomas Leonard was a Servant Entrepreneur (He also had a big ego that sometimes got in the way, so there's hope for us all!) Thomas doubled the value of Coach U every year without raising the price. He added value to Coachville members for the sheer joy of it - and he made a small fortune!
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that the Servant Entrepreneur may be the only business model that will deliver high-quality coaching and a profitable business, at the same time.
How can we become Servant Entrepreneurs? I believe it takes discipline to do it consistently. It may not always feel good. It may mean forgoing the intoxicating moments for the joy of fulfillment. And that means knowing the difference between the two, becoming aware of how each feels to you.
For me, spiritual fulfillment is a subtle inner knowingness, a joy that connects me to the whole world. Intoxication is that excited little buzz I feel that causes me to check my email at 7 AM on a Sunday morning!
Becoming a Servant Entrepreneur also may require asking yourself throughout your day, "What is motivating you? Who's in charge, your ego or your Self?" And not judging, if it's your ego, but choosing to put your ego in service of the world. This may mean shifting the way you think about your projects away from money-generating products toward value-generating products.
Instead of asking ourselves, "What do I want to do?", we may want to ask, "What does the world want or need that I'm excited to give?"
I believe that this discipline requires that we do not try to go it alone. Precisely because it is so easy to slip into ego-based desire without even knowing it. We need mentors who have mastered this (I'm not sure any have) or friends who are closely aligned with this value to hold us accountable, or spiritual teachers who know us very well.
We need to practice Servant Entrepreneurship, not just light a candle and hope for the best!
This is a big shift for most of us to make. Subtle but big. I'm attempting to orient myself around it, as an operating system. Please let me know if you think I'm missing the mark.
Copyright, Julia Stewart, 2005