How archetypes (can) support you in your entrepreneurship
A lot of entrepreneurs all over the world are having hard times. Appointments with (potential) customers have been cancelled, orders have been withdrawn.
The Corona pandemic is a fact for quite some time now and although in some countries the vaccinations started, it will still take months or maybe even years till we are able to do business without restrictions again.
Being self-employed entrepreneurship means for me freedom. The freedom to offer my customers what they need and what I believe is supporting them. It’s about being meaningful, adding value to their business, making a difference.
But in times of crisis, businesswise it also means uncertainty and dealing with it. Covid19 forced a lot of entrepreneurs to adjust their forecasts for 2020. And probably it will be the same in 2021.
Not knowing what to do anymore
Every human being responds to a crises differently and so do entrepreneurs. Some are very creative and switched seemingly effortless to another form of their products or services. But within others despair and panic alternate. As a result they experience a paralyzing uncertainty on their own knowledge and skills not knowing if their business will survive this crises or what their next step for the future will or can be.
This blog is for them. For all those entrepreneurs out there in the world having a hard time to survive, not knowing what to do anymore. Your support team is closer to you, then you might realize.
Because when you can appeal to the power of your own inner archetypes in times of crisis, it will give you the business insights, the power and therefor the self-confidence you need right now as an entrepreneur.
Your inner archetypes won’t change the state of the economy, nor will they be the solution for the pandemic. But understanding more of your inner archetypal boardroom will help you how to deal with this crises in your own unique business way.
You never do business alone
Even if you are self-employed, you never do business alone. Of course, hopefully you can rely on a network of colleagues, entrepreneurs, friends or family around you. But in addition, you also have a network of ‘inner selves’ inside you, that can support you in these difficult times… but they can also holding you back and take control over you and your business in a way that isn’t helpful at all.
Jung called these inner primal characters: the archetypes. The more aware you are of their influences on you and your doing business, the more you can determine as a ‘CEO’ the direction of your company. Even in difficult times, like now.
Your inner ‘Critic’
Your inner Critic is probably the best known archetype. Every entrepreneur will recognize him (or her ?) …
When things don’t go well for a while, it seems like that inner critical voice is screaming louder and louder every day: “You’re not good enough! You’ll never make it!” Or words of equal meaning. It can make you extremely insecure, paralyzed, as if you are businesswise totally stuck in the mud.
But this Critic or Saboteur is not the only archetype within you. There are hundreds or maybe thousands different archetypes. And the good news is: they are all within you already. Maybe you haven’t been aware of them until today, but unconsciously, they’ve been their your whole life.
They are the voices of your intuition, the lenses through which you look at yourself and at the world around you. Fortunately, all those archetypes aren’t dominant in your life at the same time, otherwise your behaviour would become quite unpredictable.
How do archetypes ‘work’ within you and how can they support you?
Your inner archetypal boardroom
Compare your inner self as a big multinational with hundreds or maybe thousands of inner employees, we call archetypes. You are the CEO of this enterprise. No matter what you are ultimately responsible for the decisions that are made and the things that need to be done, but your inner employees are having their part in the results too….
A CEO of a very large company doesn’t know exactly what each individual employee within his organization does. Nor do you, as CEO of your inner company, have to know all about the work of your inner archetypes.
But the more you delve in your inner ‘archetypal employees’, the more you will understand what course your company is taking. The more you know your inner employees, the more consciously you are able to determine how to react in certain situations. You’ll better understand why sometimes a great idea doesn’t work at all, or why in another situation it all goes smoothly.
Your inner archetypal employees are always active, without you even knowing it. They are a regular part of every story and therefor also present in your life story and in your entrepreneurial story.
How you talk about your business with customers, the decisions you make, the plans you make for the future of your company: all these different ‘business stories’ are besides other influences also fed by your inner archetypal employees.
And as the CEO you have invited some of them – usually unconsciously – to have a seat in your inner boardroom.
Neutral, balanced dedicated employees
There can and has been said a lot about what archetypes exactly are. The simple explanation is that they represent both the good and bad characteristics of character types, which prevail in certain situations.
If you are disadvantaged at a moment, there is a good chance that your inner Warrior or your inner Victim will become visible in your behaviour. You will probably react from the shadow side of these characters: you become angry and ‘strike back’ when you ‘let your inner Warrior speak’. Or you retreat and feel very sad and being wronged when you allow your inner Victim into your boardroom.
Both the Warrior and the Victim in you also have a positive side. The Warrior helps you to stand up for what you believe in. He (or she ?) helps you to defend what is important for you or your beloved ones. The light side of your inner Victim warns you when you risk becoming a victim yourself or when someone else falls victim by your behaviour.
If you (re)know the positive and negative characteristics of the archetypes, you are more likely to recognize their behaviour within yourself or others. This allows you to make a more conscious choice to do something or not. Getting to know your complete boardroom of inner neutral archetypes makes you a more balanced person and thus a more balanced entrepreneur.
Growth after an inner boardroom meeting
There are several exercises to discover which archetypes are dominant in your inner boardroom. A very simple one is the inner boardroom meeting. This exercise helps you to consciously listen to what your ‘inner selves’ do. It makes you see what they want to show to you. It makes you hear what they have to say to you. You will learn a lot about yourself as an entrepreneur. :
- Grab a piece of paper, preferably A3 format.
- Think about your business and write down everything that pops up in your mind: words, whole and half sentences, images, vague figures. Everything that comes up is ok.
If there is any judgement about what comes up, write that down too.
- Keep on listening for at least 20 minutes.
If at some point you notice that you start thinking about dinner tonight, for example, write it down, but after that force yourself to focus on your business again.
- Around the 15 minutes you’ll recognize that some things that have been said already come back again. Try to ignore these dominant voices and try to reach out for the more silent ones in your boardroom. Those voices want to be heard too, but have been shouted over by the dominant loud ones up till now.
By the end of the exercise you’ll be surprised of your own inner wisdom.
- When time is up or when your paper is full, take different color markers
- Cluster the words, images and phrases that somehow belong together.
For example all the jokes get the same color. The uncertain comments, the powerful sentences full of self-confidence, the brilliant ideas, all are clustered by a different colour. This helps you to see in the end in a glance which items you’ve written or drawn down involve the same point of view.
- Then you name each cluster in a way you think fits.
There is no right or wrong in this. It can be the name of a character. For example, ‘the creative’ for the cluster of all the good ideas, or ‘the clown’ for the cluster of jokes about your company. But it can also be the name of a place (the cave), or a thing (the heart) if you feel that suits the cluster.
It is totally up to you what name you choose to give to your own inner archetypes. They’re your own inner employees. Everything is ok!
Minutes and action items
- Now look at your paper full of inner employees. Which archetypes scream out loud? Which ones influenced you the most in doing business? Are they really helping you with their comments or images, or aren’t they? Do you also see archetypes on your paper you would like to listen to more often, because they say things that support you in your entrepreneurship? Are you lacking any archetypes, you’d like to invite for the next meeting? What can be your next step after this inner boardroom meeting?
- Write all the insights, actions, thoughts, feelings and question marks down. See this as the minutes of the boardroom meeting.
- Decide for yourself which actions you want to execute right away and which ones you’ll save for a later moment.
Becoming aware of how your inner employees influence you in doing business is a first step. By doing this exercise now and then you’ll connect with them more and more. By giving them a name you think fits your archetypes, you make them concrete and visible for yourself. By paying more attention to the ones that really support you, their influence on your entrepreneurship will grow and therefore you and your business will grow too….
Good luck. Let’s make this world a better place together!
To be continued….