At our bootcamps, it’s only a matter of time–minutes maybe–before stories surface around the topic of investors. Some of the stories exemplify what a mutually co-powered, co-creative relationship can be between investors and the leaders they invest in. Other reports, though, are appalling and laced with confusion, frustration, and pain.
I feel sad hearing those tales; it seems as though so much positive potential is lost in the fray. In listening between the lines, I often feel the pain and tensions on both sides of the table. Parker Palmer is fond of saying that “violence is what we do when we don’t know what else to do with our suffering.” And, to this Jerry often adds: “And aggression is what we do when we don’t know what to do with our fear.” We often hear about the fears entrepreneurs carry, yet this pervasive feeling doesn’t evade their investors either. When tensions arise on either side of the table, there’s a lot of feeling close to the surface, and someone may pull the asshole card. The painful stories of investor relations happen when the feelings that come out sideways model “power over” vs. “in power with.”
Being “in power with’ is more interesting. There’s a unique opportunity in venture capital of “being in service to” wherein both VC and entrepreneur are in a mutually co-created partnership in which they learn from each other. One provides what the other can’t provide, they work as a team, and if there’s a successful outcome, they look at each other and say “let’s do it again!” Healthy relationships build serial relationships.
There’s a poem at the end of this podcast episode that speaks implicitly about the responsibility for the one who holds power to lead from the soul and offers a view of what it looks like to hold that perspective.
May each of us, whenever we hold power, remember this blessing.
FOR ONE WHO HOLDS POWER
By John O’Donohue
May the gift of leadership awaken in you as a vocation,
Keep you mindful of the providence that calls you to serve.
As high over the mountains the eagle spreads its wings,
May your perspective be larger than the view from the foothills.
When the way is flat and dull in times of gray endurance,
May your imagination continue to evoke horizons.
When thirst burns in times of drought,
May you be blessed to find the wells.
May you have the wisdom to read time clearly
And know when the seed of change will flourish.
In your heart may there be a sanctuary
For the stillness where clarity is born.
May your work be infused with passion and creativity
And have the wisdom to balance compassion and challenge.
May your soul find the graciousness
To rise above the fester of small mediocrities.
May your power never become a shell
Wherein your heart would silently atrophy.
May you welcome your own vulnerability
As the ground where healing and truth join.
May integrity of soul be your first ideal.
The source that will guide and bless your work.
What’s it like to be of service from that place? It’s a stunning vantage point to behold entrepreneurs as artists and allow their passion and creativity to go into their work. And, it’s a place to align your integrity of soul to your work in the world.