I need some help.
I am looking for a few “young entrepreneurs” or young at heart entrepreneurs who have a few hours to read through an early draft of Emails for a Young Entrepreneur and share with me your first impressions.
As my colleagues David Robinson and Barney Barnett observed, “feeling lost is the new normal.” The book helps an entrepreneur discover, develop and trust their inner guidance system in the swamp of mentor whiplash. The book is a guide to the effectual way of thinking.
The book draws inspiration from the forms of Ranier Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet, Julia Cameron’s Artist’s Way at Work, Paulo Coelho’s The Pilgrimage, Ash Maurya’s Running Lean and Michael Gerber’s The E-Myth Revisited.
Send me a short note about why you are uniquely qualified to help me out (see About section of this blog for contact information). I will select a few of you who have some time in the near term to read through the draft and have a brief conversation about your first impressions.
Thanks ahead of time for the gift of your attention.
On my first Outward Bound experience in the mid 1980s, one of the participants was an English professor at the University of New Hampshire. I asked him what the secret to writing a book was. He gave me his three rules for writing:
- Read a lot.
- Before writing, create the architecture for what you want to write about.
- Keep your butt in the chair.
We both laughed and I felt energized because I had accomplished the first two many times over. Little did I know that it is the third rule that is the hardest.
After reading thousands of business and technical books and creating hundreds of outlines for possible books on a wide range of topics, I finally managed to keep my “butt in the chair” long enough to write Emails to a Young Entrepreneur.
David Robinson constantly reminds me that the secret to adult learning is to “experience first and make meaning second.” Emails to a Young Entrepreneur is my journey of making meaning of 45 years of experiencing new venture creation in the small and the very large.
I was encouraged to publish these thoughts by the many entrepreneurs who’ve heard some variant of my 12 Step Process for Recovering Entrepreneurs. Each of these sessions begins with the Entrepreneur’s Serenity Prayer:
God grant me the serenity to accept my team, my investors and my suppliers as bringers of opportunity;
The courage to change my understanding of what the customer truly needs;
The wisdom to know the difference between what is right and what the VCs, the board and the bankers want.
One of the chapters in the book is “Asking for Help.” The start of the chapter begins with a FL!P cartoon:
Paulo Coelho in The Book of Manuals shares several of his “rules” for entering into mentoring relationships as part of asking for help:
1. Restlessness: You realize that you need to change your life, either because it’s boring or because it’s painful.
2. The search: The decision to change. The search begins through books, courses, meetings.
3. Disappointment: Looking for the right path. You become aware of your teachers’ problems and faults. However many strands of philosophy or religion you follow, however many secret societies you join, there are always the same underlying problems: vanity and a desire for power.
7.The teacher: The most dangerous moment. Teachers are merely people with experience. Each path is different and individual, but, at this point, it risks being sullied and becoming a collective path.
8. The signs: You leave your teacher when the path reveals itself – through signs. Through those signs, God is teaching you what you need to know.
A year ago I attended a David Whyte “Poetry in the Woods” workshop. One of the exercises was to break into groups of four and share reflections on “the art of asking a beautiful question.” I quickly shared that my mentor, Russ Ackoff, was the master of asking great questions and how much I’ve strived to ask better and better questions. My exercise partner stopped me cold with “David asked us to reflect on beautiful questions, not great questions.” I was stunned at how I had mis-heard such an important exercise. Then, I really was stumped when I couldn’t quickly come up with a beautiful question.
“Human beings cannot quite believe the depth, drama and even the disappearances involved in even the average human life. Each one of us grows almost against our will into a steadily unfolding story where the horizon gets broader and more mysterious, the understanding of loss and mortality more keen, the sense of time more fleeting and the understanding of our own mistakes and omissions more apparent. In the midst of this deepening we have to make a life that makes sense: there is no other life than the one that involves this constant beckoning, this invitation to the fiercer aspects of existence.
“Through the insights of poetry, this weekend we will look at the fruitful discipline of first finding, then asking, ever keener and more beautiful questions; questions that do not produce easy answers but which help us to re-imagine ourselves, our world and our part in it, and most especially, questions which work to reshape our identities, helping us to become larger, more generous, more courageous; equal to the increasingly fierce invitations extended to us as we grow and mature.”
SOLACE: The Art of Asking the Beautiful Question – David Whyte
What are the beautiful questions that you are asking of yourself, your team members, your customers, and your mentors?
I look forward to your helping me to find the beautiful questions that help an entrepreneur to discover, develop and trust their inner guidance system.