The hero and the village

An integrative journey towards generative entrepreneurship

Your journey as an entrepreneur can easily be associated with the image of a hero. The symbolic meaning of the hero myth is evident: you as an entrepreneur are courageous enough to go into the arena alone and fight fiercely and autonomously to defend and build your vision. Fundamentally, you show some essential, primary leadership features, the most important ones being the ardour and the capacity to stand up, get out of a fearful crowd, and accomplish a mission. You take full responsibility for creating your own life and give shape to your unique vision, not withholding the freedom to be independent and alone.

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way”

The Greek hero Theseus, fighting against the Minotaur in the Labyrinth in Figure 1, offers you a good view of messages and symbols that relate to the hero metaphor.

In this picture of the hero’s attitude and posture, you can easily recognize and read typical traits such as courage, strength, determination, commitment, muscular approach, fighting skills, technique and technology, competence, mastery, expertise, independence, and proof.

The “sense of I” is crucial here. The positive hero mindset is a healthy affirmation of the “I”, of your individuality, of the unique stand in your unique endeavour, of your distinctive contribution to the world.

The motto of a hero could be “Where there’s a will, there’s a way”.

The hero myth however does not come without its downfalls

Looking again at the picture of Theseus, you may recognize immediately that he has to constantly demonstrate his invincible strength. Wearing a mask and a shield, and holding a weapon, he is basically armoured. He cannot afford any vulnerability.

He can be fixated on a perennial fight, perceiving fight as the only way to be and to exist. 

His pride to be alone in the arena can turn easily into painful loneliness behind the scenes. His need to master everything every moment may lead him to live under constant stress and in the longer term, he may arrive to consider this as a normal part of the game.

For you as an entrepreneur, this may often translate into working harder and harder and staying routinely in the stress and anxiety zone of the fight in order to survive.

Another way

It may be no longer sustainable nor generative to always stay in places of a lonely heroic mindset and attitude. In fact, in the complex and ever-changing contexts we are living in, it has the opposite effect, as it may bring you unsustainable or short-term solutions. Often you may be driven by survival needs, instead of innovative and creative outcomes, driven by your higher vision.

When the level of your entrepreneurial challenge is not balanced with adequate supporting energy around you, the downfalls of the hero myth can keep you in the “Stress zone”. 

Figure 2. Entrepreneurs often find themselves in the high-challenge quandrants of the challenge vs support graphic representation. In particular, the downfall of the hero myth can keep entrepreneurs trapped in the bottom-left quadrant of loneliness, unbalanced life and hard work.

Figure 2. The challenge vs support graphic for entrepreneurs. The downfall of the hero myth can keep you trapped in the bottom-right quadrant of loneliness, unbalanced life, and “hard” work.

This is a region in the representation of support vs challenge in Figure 2 where you as an entrepreneur are not surrounded by an appropriate level of support while facing a high level of challenges. This is often the case, especially for pioneering ventures, sustainable scaling ups, and generative and regenerative endeavours. 

“It takes a village to raise a child”

A generative community of entrepreneurs goes much beyond the network that one could build. It is indeed about finding an alliance, a group, a community, a village of entrepreneurs, that grows and goes after each entrepreneurial dream, together. The village is a metaphor for synergetic energies and forces, of multiple perspectives, of enriching diversity and complementarities.

As Stephen Covey said: “Synergy is what happens when one plus one equals ten or a hundred or even a thousand! It is the profound results when two or more respectful human beings determine to go beyond their preconceived ideas to meet a great challenge.

Figure 3. A circle of entrepreneurs. A humble synergy of diverse perspectives. The motto here could be “It takes a village to raise a child”.

In a trust-based village gathering of entrepreneurs, unimaginable resources can originate thanks to the care, deep listening, peer conversation, relational intelligence, emotional intelligence, collective wisdom, connection, and belonging. Shortly, thanks to a sense of “We”.

Finding the right village that helps sustain your own endeavour and vision is not easy. Often you may encounter difficulties in connecting to a sphere of influence that would offer the impact, the accountability, the resources, and the relationships you need to grow further.

More essentially, entering a village may require a serious moment of recognition of your own limitations, along with the reaffirmation of your unique strengths in front of the challenges ahead.

In this respect, we love to cite the following excerpt from the book “Leadership and the New Science” by Margaret Wheatley to conclude this article:

If we take seriously the role of explorer and inventor, we will realize that we can’t do this alone. It is scary work, trying to find a new world, hoping we won’t die in the process. We live in a time of chaos, as rich in the potential for disaster as for new possibilities.

How will we navigate these times?

The answer is, together.

We need each other differently now.

We cannot hide behind our boundaries or hold onto the belief that we can survive alone.

We need each other to forgive us when we fail, to trust us with their dreams, to offer their hope when we have lost our own. (…).

We have each other’s curiosity, wisdom, and courage.

And we have Life, whose great ordering powers if we choose to work with them, will make us even more curious, wise and courageous.