Settle for bureaucracy or embrace your entrepreneur?

Three choices you will need to make.

Photo by Chris Lawton on Unsplash

Do we all have an entrepreneurial spirit trying to break free?

I believe we’re all creative. Maybe the extent to which we let our creativity happen is a matter of confidence and the personal risk we perceive. If entrepreneurialism is a form of business creativity then perhaps the extent to which we demonstrate entrepreneurial behaviour is down to our confidence and attitude to risk. Many factors — past experiences, the present situation and future desires — influence our decisions in a given moment and may set our path.

In many working environments the dynamics are often viewed from the experience of being in a hierarchy of powers where we react to orders from those above and to events created outside our control. Understandably this can make us somewhat reluctant to take full responsibility for our actions — let alone feel responsible for the company. It might not be clear but even when someone has power over us, we do still have choices. In making these choices, we may find ourselves accepting bureaucracy or embracing our entrepreneurial spirit. We choose between stability and disruption, caution and courage, and between dependence and autonomy.

Stability or Disruption

By choosing stability we hold onto what we have; it feels safe. The popular desire to move up the hierarchy carries with it the fear of failing and the belief that we get ahead by not making mistakes. Choosing stability often means choosing to be led by others.

The desire to disrupt reflects a yearning to find an alternative to the conventions. It’s a risky choice because we may never achieve it. Following a risky path where the outcome is in doubt is the essence of the entrepreneurial spirit.

Caution or courage

Things like performance reviews can give us the feeling we’re constantly being watched and evaluated. At some point someone will judge our compliance to ensure we follow the trodden path. Signals tell us to be cautious. Presenting to management is scary. The message is be careful — we don’t want to screw up in front of them.

The alternative is to be courageous. Creating a company we believe in requires many acts of courage. Courage comes in a series of small steps for each of us and most of the time we’re the only one aware of the risks we take. Acting courageously sometimes means following the unpopular path, like calling out an issue when others are ignoring it.

Dependence or Autonomy

When we act dependently we choose to wait for someone, usually above, to give us direction. Again, it feels safe. It’s comforting to be led and we assume a promise exists that if we follow, our future will be protected. But the price we pay for our dependency is a sense of helplessness — until something above us changes, don’t expect us to operate differently. We become certain in our belief that people above set the tone for how we behave, and when things go wrong we blame them or the culture. These expressions confirm our dependency.

Autonomy is an attitude — the attitude that my actions are my own choices. It’s based on my belief that I’m the ultimate authority for my actions and I’ll choose how I’ll best serve my team, my project and my company. I won’t wait for direction and I accept responsibility for the results. The entrepreneurial mindset embraces autonomy; it’s better to proceed because at least decisions are being made and we can learn and improve.

The entrepreneurial path is in pursuit of purpose

Work is personal. We give a lot of our life to it. Our energy, passion and motivation comes from our intrinsic desire to do good work and our own feelings about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.

When we embrace our entrepreneurial spirit we make a pact with ourselves to be our own authority, to encourage self-expression, and to make commitments in order to do something worthwhile. We have purpose and we just get on with it — in a way that makes sense to us; in a way that expresses our personal values about the work; in a way that creates a company we want to be a part of.