John J. Murphy
When people hear the word Zentrepreneur, several questions typically come to mind. What is a zentrepreneur? Who is a zentrepreneur? Am I a zentrepreneur? What limits us from awakening to our inner zentrepreneur? And how do we go about unleashing this extraordinary power and grace? In this article I will answer these questions.
A zentrepreneur is someone who turns good ideas into great results. We understand that we are here on earth for a meaningful purpose. We have a mission. We have a reason for being. We have gifts and we have ideas. We have talents and we have the potential to learn and apply ourselves in many ways. Our inner most essence is that of spirit, our “inspiration” to be creative and free. We are meant to explore, to grow, to learn and to express ourselves in meaningful ways. We do not have to try to do this. We simply have to recognize that it is all part of the Tao, the great current of life. A blade of grass does not have to try to grow green. It just does. A rose does not have to try to blossom. It just does. An oak tree does not have to try to grow big and strong. It is its essence. It is its purpose. Therefore, to apply ourselves in the most meaningful, productive way, we often have to get out of our own way.
Being a zentrepreneur is not so much about “who” is one. It is really more about “what” is one. People love to idolize other people, feeding on the drama and juice of the dualistic, ego thought system. We see it in business. We see it in education. We see it in politics. We see it in religion. We see it in sports. We see it in the media. Who is better? Who is the best? Who is right? Who is wrong? Right, left, good bad – resistance meets resistance.
The zentrepreneur in all of us sees past this fear-based ego-thought system. The zentrepreneur sees past the false, insecure self and recognizes that deep down we are all sacred, divine beings, frequently trapped by illusions of the programmed mind. Thus, we challenge common assumptions – about others and about the world we live in. We contemplate the wisdom of contrast, recognizing that without it we cannot know anything. What is “up” if we do not have “down?” What is ease if we do not know disease?
The contemplative mind allows us to open our minds to vast ideas and possibilities. When there is a crisis, we know there is opportunity to step up and make a positive difference. This is the perfect yin-yang balance of life, a mystical fork in the road that allows us to test ourselves. Is the glass half full or half empty? Better yet, what is in the glass? Does the quantity even matter? Perhaps a little bit of light can brighten up a whole room full of darkness. Never doubt that one enlightened person can have a major impact on millions of others.
You are a zentrepreneur when you are applying your true, inner spirit. You are sharing your ideas and acting on them. You are finding ways to bring more joy to the world. You are part of the solution and not part of the problem. You are letting go of grief and guilt and insecurity, and you are embracing the fearless soul within you searching for expression. Spirit knows no fear so when we are “inspired” we are willing to do whatever it takes to pursue our mission. We are focused, enthusiastic and thankful for the opportunity. We are engaging and creative. We are resourceful and productive. Observers notice this “zenergy” and are inspired by it. Like energy attracts like energy. The Law of Attraction draws into our lives an abundance of power and grace to fuel our desires. Amazing things get done. Miracles happen. The world improves. The zentrepreneur takes a knee and gives thanks, recognizing that this powerful force of zenergy does not come from us – as the ego would suggest. It comes through us – when we allow it! It is always there. It is the life force. There is no shortage of this power and grace.
To “let flow” this life force, we must learn to “let go” the obstacles and barriers in the way. Many of these constraints are self-imposed. They include our fears, our doubts, our insecurities and our limiting beliefs. Most of these obstacles are subconscious, meaning we do not even know they are there. They are hidden in the mind but reflected daily in our habits and tendencies. The same is true for organizations and cultures. On the surface we see these assumptions, values, and beliefs reflected in policies, procedures and behaviors, but we often miss the underlying memes and paradigms driving the behaviors. Without healthy questioning, these flawed assumptions and misinterpretations can severely restrict us, personally, professionally and organizationally. It takes our inner zentrepreneur to change this.
We unleash the power and grace of the zentrepreneur by asking thoughtful questions, contemplating the answers carefully, and using discernment to act wisely on the choices we have. As simple as this practice might seem, the answers we uncover are often quite profound. Start with a question like “What if?” What if we try this change? What if we modify our value proposition? What if we offer something new? What if we eliminate some of the non-value-added activity in the process? What if we stop doing something wasteful? What if we use our time differently? Use these questions to uncover opportunity and explore alternatives. Be careful not to judge or criticize the ideas as they surface as this will limit the creative problem-solving process. Let the ideas flow and then sort them into options. Invite other people to help you with this exercise. Seek the wisdom and genius of a team. We do not have to know all the answers ourselves. Use questions like “Why” and “Why not?” to further explore the ideas. Use questions like “How” and “Who” and “When” to bring more discernment and practicality to the options. Prepare for the “Yeah, buts” and the “So Whats” as well. Pushback and resistance can be healthy and wise. Use it to your advantage. It is healthy to consider multiple points of view. Keep an open mind as you search for better ways of doing things and use positive intent to hold your team together. At the end of the day we all value helpful innovation, authentic growth and genuine improvement. Zentrepreneurs get this done.
John J. Murphy is an award-winning author, speaker, business consultant, and “zentrepreneur.” John has appeared on more than 400 radio and television stations, and his work has been featured in more than 50 newspapers nationwide. His clients include some of the world’s leading organizations. He is also the author of Zentrepreneur: Get Out of the Way and Lead: Create a Culture of Innovation and Fearlessness. John lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan.