An Entrepreneur’s Stroke of Genius
The Blank Canvas
Picture it, an empty page and some paint and brushes at your disposal.
What would you draw? What inspires you? What message would you like to convey?
The notion of starting afresh can be equally daunting and exhilarating. On the one hand, your options are limitless–or perhaps, only limited by your own creativity. On the other hand, infinite choices come with their own opportunity costs and stresses. Nevertheless, once you do find your calling, the thrill of seeing your actions come to life is quite special.
The Dirty Apron
Entrepreneurship as a concept is much like a finished canvas. When we read about successful startups in the news, we admire the end result: a clean picture housed in an elegant frame. This moment presents us with the opportunity to lavish praise on the “genius” behind the work and admire the creative risks taken at apparent liberty. Unfortunately, the praise seldom considers the drafts and rework, broken brushes, and dirty aprons behind the elegant masterpiece showcased. True entrepreneurship is this behind-the-scenes struggle and madness.
But why is this the case? Why is struggle so important in this endeavor of personal creation? And more importantly, how do we overcome it?
Economics aside, let us look at the act of entrepreneurship from a more holistic lens. The act of starting a business presents us with an opportunity to take control of our career. Considering that that career and livelihood are vital for our way of life, entrepreneurship can be extended to a pursuit of control in general.
The desire for control is timeless. Open any history book or newspaper and you will find that most events–political, economic, social–are driven by an underlying theme of control–i.e. the desire to shift or establish control away from the status quo. With so many actors and issues at hand, demanding attention and convincing a critical mass of your vision is inherently an uphill task. In fact, the effort required almost begs the question as to why anybody would even consider starting enterprise in the first place!
The rewards of entrepreneurship are based in the belief that control over one’s own domain can result in peace of mind and fulfillment. Thus, the desire to be master of your own domain is far more motivating than all the series of impending challenges–which is a good thing, because this is how good ideas ultimately come to fruition!
It is imperative an entrepreneur accepts the barrage of oncoming challenges and focuses on the overall goal. For the early stage CEO, control and approval over every aspect of a business–from financial to legal to strategic to operational–is critical for correct execution. Concurrently, an entrepreneur must also strike a delicate balance between authority, motivation and trust. Maintaining focus however, with new problems constantly cropping up is easier said than done.
Here’s where mindfulness tools and spirituality can help a budding entrepreneur stay focused.
The Old Masters
The inward journey to understand one’s purpose is similar to the journey of entrepreneurship. Both journeys require unerring focus and mental strength, and are motivated by fulfillment. While the rewards of both journeys may manifest in different realms (entrepreneurship’s being tangible and outwards while spirituality’s being intangible and inward), they are equally fulfilling. In fact, finding inner balance and focus can help an entrepreneur manage the trials and tribulations of starting a business.
Turning to the Vedas, we have myriad archetypes that can (i) help focus the mind towards a goal and (ii) build resolve towards fulfillment. While all archetypes are intended to promote introspection, the stories of Ganesha and the symbolism of the Swastika are perhaps most relevant for the stressed entrepreneur.
Ganesha is one of the most noticeable deities in Vedic literature. He is depicted as a pot-bellied man with the head of an elephant. Ganesha is often revered across India as a symbol of unending resolve, wisdom and energy that can overcome any obstacle presented, as represented through the elephant imagery. In addition, most Vedic deities are generally paired with a Vahana–i.e. A symbolic animal that serves as a vehicle to help transport the deity. Curiously, for his impressive size and might, Ganesha’s vahana is a mouse. The underlying symbolism at play sheds light on this pairing, as the resilient mouse can travel through barriers too big for Ganesha. Thus in totality, Ganesha represents man’s innate and unstoppable willpower that is able to overcome obstacles both large and/or intricate.
The Swastika is a widely revered symbol of auspiciousness and good luck that has manifest in many Eastern and Western cultural belief systems. In the Vedic system, the symbol continues to hold prominence for good fortune and well-being. In fact, etymologically the word Swastika can be broken in two parts in sanskrit: Su meaning good fortune and Asti meaning being–i.e. Good wellbeing. Swasti as a word periodically features across the Vedas to denote themes of health, luck, and prosperity. In practice, many doorways to businesses and new financial statements across India are marked with Swastikas to denote good fortune. The circular and continuous nature of the symbol also denotes activity and progression.
The imagery presented by Ganesha and the Swastika can be used as mindfulness markers to help focus the mind on progression amidst the stresses of new challenges. The following mantra is commonly used to invoke the energy and symbolism of Ganesha and the Swastika:
Om namaste gannapataye
Svasti na indro vrddha-shravaah
Svasti Nah Pusshaa Vishva Vedaah
Svasti Nas-taarkssyo Arishtaa-nemih
Svasti no vrhaspatir-dadhaatu
Om Shaanti Shaanti Shaanti
The first incantation is a simple recitation intended to focus on the energy, drive and wisdom of Ganesha.
The second incantation translates as follows:
May Indra (ov Vedas) of great wisdom and Glory grant us Well-being
May Pushan (Sun God, or nourisher) of great knowledge grant us Well-being
May Tarksya (Mythical Bird of protective power) grant us wellbeing
May Brihaspati/Vrihaspati (Guru of Devas) grant us wisdom
Peace, Peace, Peace
For a more in-depth look at Vedic Symbolism and Mythology, stay tuned for our upcoming blogs.
A finished masterpiece does well to conceal the underlying challenges of progress and showcase instead the fruits of creation and effort. There’s no denying the hard work of entrepreneurship on a daily basis. Sometimes, the grind can become overwhelming but fortunately, there are myriad sources of health relief available. Spirituality and mindfulness can offer some much needed relief and calm.
Our career decisions and shifts stem from the deep desire to engage in activities that allow us to think beyond ourselves.