Running a business is a profession in itself. Two years ago, I introduced the concept of parallelism to business and the human body. By correlating various human resources to the different parts of the body, the position of the business owner becomes the “brain” of the business “body”. If this brain is to guarantee the welfare of the body, it must ensure that all parts of the body are healthy and functional, but at the same time reserve enough food and oxygen for the brain itself.
In order to achieve this, you, as the brain of your business, have to admit that there are universal principles neither body nor brain can overcome, and that violating such universal principles means we contribute to the creation of an unhealthy environment, for the viability of us and everybody around us. This “unhealthiness” is obvious nowadays, both in business and social/physical terms. When a number of similar entities (human or business ones) gather antagonistically, then survival in an unhealthy environment becomes a much tougher issue.
This is when the brain must move onto a “meta-phase” of existence. At one time, the role of the brain was to ensure the viability of the body and itself. Now, in this new role, it has to be more sophisticated and devise strategies, techniques and long term plans to ensure “survival space”. This includes claiming land from another “brain” from time to time.
In the world of business, I would define this phase as “identity distancing”. My own company, hyphen, was just a concept once upon a time, and when it was conceived, it went through a period of gestation for the first years, experiencing hiccups, drawbacks and side effects like with every pregnancy. The development of an embryo doesn’t cease with birth. On the contrary, it continues after birth; mechanisms become consolidated and functions are established. And, of course, postnatal development takes place in the real world and not in the sheltered world of the womb. Predominantly, postnatal development occurs after the child detaches itself from the mother. Thus, in business, development in the real world takes place once the whole operation has detached itself from the brain that conceived it. The brain, as the parent, then acts as a close monitor to ensure the continuance of learning, feeding and growth whilst inspiring responsibility, self-protection, self-control, happiness and balance. This parent, however, has got to remember that a) the child/business is a separate entity, and b) too much interdependence can become suffocating.
Similarly, when parents are overprotective and overindulge their children by doing everything for them, they deprive them from the joy of initiative, experimentation and self-learnt effectiveness, thus producing lazy and disabled children. Every child deserves the freedom to grow creatively, but this must happen with the use of specific frameworks, restrictions and guidance.
What I have been telling my clients, this past year, is that my own business managed to breathe when I repositioned myself in relation to it. In fact, it was only then that I managed to breathe, too. My business is its own vision, human resources, targets and practices, and it is always closely monitored by myself to ensure that its practices cater for its survival, growth and self-respect. In return, I receive plenty of satisfaction in both material and spiritual terms.
This identity distancing meta-phase has created a whole new world in terms of running my own business, and it reflects the targets of every well-established collaboration between my business and its own clients. As with “unhealthy” practices, good practices reflect from entity to entity and can create a positive domino effect, which becomes increasingly evident in the wider environment. So much, in fact, that it gives you the strength and satisfaction to realise that one day, your “child” will have to detach itself completely from you. You either make a mature decision to set it free to develop its own strengths, or you let it grow old with you, only to die slowly with retirement. It all depends on what each one of us is prepared to leave behind.
As I’m writing, I consider hyphen to be my Number 1 client. We have a fair and just relationship of moderate interdependence: I offer my know-how, planning and guidance, and in return, I receive material and spiritual satisfaction. This is almost exactly the same kind of relationship I experience with my clients. I have chosen not to be my business or my children, my relationship with my wife or even my clients. All these entities grow healthily by themselves and within our relationships, as do I, alongside them, just as a brain exists alongside the rest of the body. Realism is the means by which we can prevent the violation of universal principles.