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The Unseen Forces That Drive Entrepreneurs
Common patterns from my own life and others, responsible for achievement...and internal struggle
The ideas below are simply a reflection of my direct experience applying the wisdom of many great teachers to my life. They are not my prescriptions on how others should live their life. I share these thoughts and experiences not to gloat or cast judgment, but rather to feel the joy of creatively expressing myself and to potentially help others on a similar journey.
I wrote recently on the idea of conditioned patterns driving our beliefs and thoughts, which end up driving our lives. That is, until we become aware of them.
The amazing news is once you acknowledge this and begin to work on the patterns, they can be transcended or adapted to be more supportive of your well-being.
My personal context of my own evolution has been the vantage point of an entrepreneur.
The goal of this post is to provide specific examples of common patterns from that context, describe how they manifest in the world, and outline example sources of imprinting in order to further expose the audience to this core concept.
What does it feel like to be free of patterns?
It means you can encounter life without feeling such an urge to control it because there is nothing that’s hitting your stuff. Imagine never being agitated or triggered? And if you are, you’re able to bring yourself back to peace in a few minutes…
I frankly can’t think of a more worthy pursuit.
Although I can’t claim to be completely absolved of my patterns, I have made tremendous headway over the past few years by working on them constantly and I can emphatically report the payoff is worth it!
The biggest challenge with patterns is identification mostly because we are unconscious of their existence. In ignorance, we misconstrue patterns with the concept of personality which makes us beholden to these behaviors: “this is just how I am!”
I liken this confusion to the movie the Matrix. People are walking around plugged in thinking they are something that isn’t really accordant with reality, but they can’t see it because they don’t know they’re plugged in. The truth is, you are something so much grander than a collection of imprints that you unknowingly inherited!
Even when you are aware of one of your patterns, it’s difficult to identify them prior to directly indulging or responding unconsciously as life unfolds. The same fundamental pattern may covertly emerge in all kinds of disparate behaviors and interactions that look completely different. Catching it in real time as it emerges is step two of the real work beyond initial identification.
Are Entrepreneurs Born…or Made?
As I look at what I thought was a “natural” drive to be an entrepreneur, I now recognize that it was a conditioned drive. And many of the behaviors that I exhibited throughout the process of doing startups all trace back to imprinting.
Now you may be saying, isn’t it a good thing that our past and various exposures shape us?
Pattern recognition is important for our survival. It helps us stay safe and make life sustaining decisions.
However, if your goal is to be free and have a completely open heart to all of life, programming from past experience can make this pretty hard.
Regardless of what your conditioning ends up being, the further you evolve and shed what seem like unending layers of your being, you realize that all the experiences and imprinting you’ve had are an immense gift in the context of your growth. You see the innocence in yourself and others which allows compassion to emerge.
There’s come a point though where patterns no longer serve your evolution. Your future need not be dictated by past experiences, societal narratives, and thought forms you inherited vs. ones you’ve consciously chosen.
What I am about to share might ruffle some feathers. Lots of these underlying drivers result in behaviors that our society and my industry put on a pedestal. They are responsible for much of the accomplishment and creation in our world. They are also responsible for an immense amount of internal suffering that is not required in order to be a productive participant in society.
There is nothing fundamentally wrong with any of these behaviors or patterns. I’ve experienced and embodied them all!
They just are what they are. Truthfully, there is no such thing as wrong. And once you are aware of your patterns, you then possess the gift of choosing how you want to engage the world, peacefully.
I intentionally included examples of patterns manifesting below that seem harmless in order to highlight that energetic imprints are responsible for much more than unpleasant reactions like getting angry. They also drive many seemingly innocent behaviors that we consider natural ways of being. Ultimate liberation requires you to observe all vs. distinguishing between pleasant and unpleasant…though I’d definitely start with working on the unpleasant ones!
Lastly, I can see how based on the narrative below one might think I am no longer as emphatic about entrepreneurship. Quite the opposite is true. The primary difference of my current perspective is that now the motive behind any entrepreneurial pursuit comes from places like divine inspiration and creativity vs. conditioned striving.
As your evolution unfolds, motivation and intent become much more important factors than the content itself.
Common Entrepreneurial Patterns
Desire to be special or distinguished
This pattern shows up as an internal drive to prove yourself to the world. It’s the core driver of why many entrepreneurs want to start a company, especially their first one. To do the impossible and be handsomely rewarded with status and atypical financial abundance is an attractive idea. As you achieve and begin to get recognized by the outside world, it feels good. So you want more. This feedback loop can get addictive and then gets cemented into your conceptual self which can cause more challenges later on.
Everyday example of it showing up - Your company has some article written about it and you can’t wait to share it. As you share it, all these reactions come in and you’re really feeling on cloud 9. Look what I did! The ego takes credit and feels good…oh but for a moment.
**I’ll repeat this once here. There’s nothing wrong with this behavior or any of the ones listed below. God knows I’ve engaged in them (obviously God knows 🤣). If your #1 goal is to be free, it’s just important to acknowledge their existence and whats driving them as they reveal themselves on the canvas of life.**
Example source imprinting: You were good at a sport growing up. In fact, you were the best on your team. And by being the best, you parents showed you lots of affection and love which created an affinity to being special.
If I do it right, I’ll get love
This pattern often shows up as militant discipline. You have a voracious thirst for knowledge and things that you believe will advance your goals. This cascades down to a regimented lifestyle and set of working behaviors.
You do all the right things because you believe they will increase the odds of getting what you want. When this works, you feel a sense of pride. When things don’t go your way, you feel frustrated because you thought you did everything right. It feels unfair! There is an immense attachment to rigidity which you believe is responsible for outcomes. This makes it challenging to flow through life and your relationships with grace and ease.
Everyday example of it showing up - All you need to do is look at many optimizers' morning routines. You wake up at 6am, drink lemon water, meditate for 20 minutes, take a cold shower while saying affirmations, journal on obligatory gratitude homages and your top priorities, and eat 3 egg whites…all before 8am! You get the idea.
Any deviation from these routines disturbs you because you believe it disturbs your performance. There is a heavy attachment to doing it right because there is a fear that if you don’t do it right, you won’t be loved or be safe.
Example source imprinting: In college, you read a book about successful people being very disciplined. You saw how other people looked at them and thought maybe if you behaved similarly, you’d receive similar love and admiration.
The outside world supplies me
You believe that the outside world and the accumulation of accolades or things will make it all okay inside. You justify that the daily struggles you experience on the journey to securing things outside yourself will be worth it.
I can’t contend that getting things can feel quite nice. I have experienced a fair bit of societal success myself and the momentary highs are addicting. However, whether its wealth, status, or even relationships, the feelings you get from things outside yourself are ephemeral. An existence where joy is contingent upon constantly reproducing these moments is exhausting and bound to be difficult.
Everyday examples of it showing up - Looking at someone who just sold their company for mega bucks and feeling a sense of envy. Thinking that personally having this experience will meaningfully impact your happiness and using this to push yourself to “grind harder.”
Example source imprinting: You had a rich friend growing up. His parents made a lot of money and they had all these nice things. From the outside looking in everyone seemed happier than your family…appearances are funny aren’t they!
I’m running out of time
This shows up as an immense sense of urgency. You have little patience and are always thinking about getting to the next thing. You can’t stand incompetence and you often feel like people in both your professional and personal life are “holding you up” or getting in the way.
“Why can’t these people get it? How come no one catches on as quickly as me?”
Everyday example of it showing up - You call a family member out of obligation to feel like you are being a good person and after a few minutes, you start to think about how you can get off the phone. You feel this constant pressure of needing to move on to your next thing during this activity and many areas of your life instead of just being able to engage fully in whatever you’re doing. Despite you often initiating tasks or interactions, you find a subtle inner drive of wanting to check them off vs. actually enjoying them.
Another good example of this pattern is you feel your blood boil when you’re working on something and someone comes to your desk and interrupts you.
Example source imprinting - someone that you cared for died young early in your life. This unconsciously instilled a sense of fear and urgency that you need to get going before you run out of time. An ironic belief for an infinite being!
Avoiding and hiding
This pattern often shows up as a constant need to be doing something or being productive. You’re uncomfortable with “just being” or boredom so you fill every moment with an activity. People around you applaud you for how much shit you get done in a day and this makes you feel good.
The procrastination of facing things inwardly is attractive because you don’t have to deal with negative emotions. However, the cost is you constantly have to be on a treadmill filling time with activities to feel good. This gets exhausting and eventually the suppression of emotions will bear its ugly head. This suppression of emotional energy is often manifested in the decline of physical health or the sudden emergence of a disease.
Everyday example of it showing up - You can’t sit still. You always need to be doing something. Any free moment, you pull out your phone and distract yourself with twitter or some other form of rationalized productivity.
Example source imprinting - learned behavior during childhood that facing your emotions is painful.
Other common entrepreneur patterns:
Need to save the world (specialness)
Desire to control
No one can do it as good as you
As stated previously, these patterns are responsible for much of the achievement of man. On the outside their manifestations are impressive.
What does not get discussed is what the inside looks like in the pursuit of such achievement.
I think a lot of us get fed a narrative that this internal struggle in the pursuit of material creation is the cost of doing business. I certainly used to think that. Being successful is hard! Startups are a grind! Learn to love the grind!!
I now believe that it does not have to be this way. This idea will be hard to grasp until you begin to relinquish your conditioning and realize how much of what we take as absolute truth, is in fact imprinting.
If you’re reading this and thinking, wow okay these anecdotes sound like me. I want to do something about it! My recommendation would be to start to bring awareness to your patterns and find techniques like these to transmute and transcend them.
You may also be wondering if you do this, will you be relegated to becoming an unproductive hermit?
My experience has been no. The motives for your behavior evolve from more survivalistic drives to inspiration and pleasure.
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