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June 2017

Present-moment entrepreneurship

A company focused on its legacy is a company in decline. A startup that is focused on some future destination remains nothing other than an idea. Only a venture that is fully-alive and relevant to customers and stakeholders in the present moment can be called a success.

In business school, we are taught by case studies (from the past) and we are encouraged to develop plans, strategies and ideas (for the future). Meanwhile, what we are taught to do in the present moment is absolutely nothing of value. By the time we graduate, we have become so attached to lessons from the past that we fail to innovate. We have become so comfortable planning, strategizing, and ambitiously chasing the future that we are blind to what we are actually manifesting into the present moment.

Business relationships are connections that exist in the present moment with people who are aligned with what you are currently doing. Your minds are connected. Your business network is not comprised of everyone you once worked with; rather, it includes only those relationships which are still alive. To burn a bridge is to remove someone from your network by doing something that removes the person from your present moment.

A customer is also someone who exists in the now—someone using your product or service (engagement) or at least thinking about it (mind share). Revenue and growth are directly tied to the quality of customer relationships you have now.

Conventional wisdom in business is all wrong. Established companies don’t fail because they lack future focus; rather, they fail by disappointing the customer in the present moment. Startups don’t fail because of a lack of vision; rather, they fail by neglecting to create value now.

What does it mean to be a present-moment entrepreneur?  It means that, in each action, you have a clear vision what you are bringing into the now. That vision is something you can articulate in a way that makes it feel alive to investors. You facilitate a work environment in which staff naturally enjoy creating that vision now. You build an atmosphere of no stress, no fear, no shaming or blaming, and no attacks. You accept what is and then react to it calmly. You are guided by intuition so that, when something feels wrong, you step back. In talking with stakeholders, in making presentations—in everything you do—you are fully-alive in the present moment and, by extension, you create space for others to join you in the present moment.

This vision of a successful entrepreneur runs contrary to conventional wisdom. We’ve all heard about the enormous sacrifice, the stress, the years spent in painful exhaustion required to build a company. What is created in pain and suffering ultimately offers nothing of value. Even if commercial success is achieved for a time, even in the event of a profitable exit, what has been created in suffering only brings more suffering to the world. A person willing to create pain and misery in the present moment is someone who is…well, nothing more than someone who is creating pain and misery in the present moment. Whatever good you may be trying to do in your mind, that isn’t what you are actually doing. The ends do not justify the means because the ends are the means.

You can pride yourself in past accomplishments or dream of a future that will be great, but what is real is here and now. For a dream to become reality, its truth must exist in the present moment. Maybe your product is not ready for release, but if everything you do is done in a state of present-moment awareness, then it does exist. If you are connecting with investors with presence, then funding is already happening. If you are giving your staff the freedom to enjoy life today, then they are aligned with the pure inspiration that is bringing your vision to life.

In the now, work doesn’t feel like work. You are not working toward something; rather, you have already arrived at your destination. Your senses are sharp, your vision is clear, your decisions and reactions are not undermined by negative emotion. You are at the top of your game. Your life is abundant and easy. What you create in this state is the ultimate realization of your potential. Who you become in this state is who you were meant to become. Go there now.