Forming Co-Founder Agreements is a Sacred Act of Initiation
This article focuses on the role and significance of agreements as we come into co-founder relationship with the group of people we discover we share a common vision with, as we choose to embark on a journey together to actualize that vision in service of the more beautiful world.
In my post “Relationships Form Among People Who Discover They Share A Common Cause and Vision” I wrote about how entering into agreement can serve as a valuable tool for creating the bonds that keep us IN relationship and prevent us from sabotaging ourselves by bouncing out when the going gets tough.
But there’s a lot more to be aware of when creating and signing co-founder agreements that’s far too often missed or overlooked, because we’re poorly educated about what agreements really are, how they work and how they affect us at the gross, subtle and causal levels of reality.
As a result, new paradigm/more beautiful world-types will often tend to avoid co-founder agreements, on the misunderstanding that they are a corrupt element of an old world order that they’re seeking to disassociate with and get away from.
They rush into them really early on, in an effort to:
(i) try to get the boring administrative box-checking exercise out of the way and get on with creating together; or
(ii) secure the group’s commitment and compliance on the basis of the threat and fear of legal and financial consequences for breach of those commitments.
And as a business owner, I can certainly empathise with those temptations.
But, as a former international lawyer, who has spent many hours dealing with agreements, I’m also aware that agreements are very powerful things that address some very key aspects of our relationship to the business and to each other, around things like, but not limited to:
- Ownership/equity — and whether that’s fixed or dynamic,
- Fixed and variable compensation — what’s static or base pay, and what’s performance pay;
- Decision-making — does everyone need to agree, can people act autonomously and how do we vote on key decisions;
- Resource Allocation — what deserves money, how much and whose responsible for ensuring it gets there; and
- Conflict resolution — what happens if we disagree or you do something that seriously impacts what I’m doing and that affects our revenue generation or ability to serve.
And over the lifetime of a business, these are no small considerations.
So if we’re truly going to build the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible, then now’s the time for us to seed our organizations differently, shift how our startups are built foundationally and ensure that our agreements, commitments and devotion to the vision and to each other are not only entered into more consciously but also built on foundations of trust rather than compliance.
Because agreements actually have a very important role to play in creating an energetic container for our creation process. They bring the invisible visible and materialise the nature of the relationship between the participants into form, rooting it into a grounded foundation, that connects us into current reality.
Try picturing it like this:
- A bunch of floating single cells or orbs gravitate by attraction towards one cell or orb that appears to be radiating with the strongest Light;
- As those cells come closer together, through sharing stories, learning of their longstanding respective devotion to the common vision, aligning around a set of shared values, they fall into a kind of casual orbit with one another;
- Through First Action (which entails articulating the vision or creating an artifact to externalise the Light that’s held inside), the cell or orb that’s radiating with the strongest Light, distributes the primary colours in the spectrum of Light to the other cells — one turns blue, one turns red, the other yellow;
- Over time, as they continue circulating in orbit with one another, sharing their respective coloured perspectives, bonds start to form between them, connecting them together with more consistency and continuity;
- At first those connections are rather shaky and unstable, and it takes a lot of energy for the cells or orbs to consistently shine their coloured perspective into the group, and to maintain their attention on holding the relationships in place — any slight disturbance risks destabilising them;
- As more time passes, in order to free up as much of the cells or orbs energy to shine into the central shared vision, it becomes clear that it would be supportive for them to stabilise themselves by formalising the bonds, pitching up in a particular location, laying a foundation and anchoring them in the context of their environment.
The stabilising of the bonds, the laying of that foundation, and anchoring the group into the environment of our current reality, so that the participants can relax their bodies, minimize wasted mental and emotional energy that’s going toward thinking about how they relate to one another and the vision (which is energy that could otherwise be being poured more generatively into the shared vision) is the purpose of the container of the agreement.
And in signing that agreement, formalising those bonds, laying those foundations, and anchoring into the environment, the group is effectively stamping the energetic signature of the group field into reality, at that moment.
As such, the group will want to:
(a) Be very clear what vision that agreement relates to — the larger and more amorphous the vision, and the more novel the vision is (i.e. the less that the path to it has already been cleared by others in humanity already), the more residual old paradigm energetics the group will need to work through in order to actualize that vision into reality;
(b) Be aware that whatever contractions/grit exist within the individuals or within the group field, that would in any way obscure the Light from shining into the centre in service to the vision, in the context of that agreement, will then come up over the course of the journey to be alchemised and transmuted back into Light; and
(c) Be aware that whatever grit exists in the individual and group field at the time of signing the agreement, if unresolved, will fractal as the group/business/non-profit/etc grows into its emergent culture, risking creating the sort of fissures and fractures that could jeopardize the stability of the bonds between the participants at a later date.
Given that the journey that you’ll go through together IS THE PATH you’ll walk on your individual and group development journey to bringing your shared vision to fruition, and that Life has got it covered if we can simply stay in the game (N.B. it’s common knowledge that the vast majority of startups fail due to founder conflict), this is a valuable piece to be aware of at the outset of your journey.
If you’re still in the exploration and inquiry of whether you see yourself being committed over a longer period to your team, and you’re using a single project to explore your relationship and synergy potential, then ideally your agreement is limited in scope to the project you’re engaging in. If you then decide to expand your relationship at a later date, you’ll want to re-engage the agreement process at that time so that the new container is fit for the new purpose and the larger initiation that you’re entering into together (which pertains more to your collective future fitness and adaptability).
Ultimately, grounding your vision into reality through laying the legal foundations and legal anchoring the business is a powerful early initiation for the group and if you fail to approach it with the requisite awareness, attention, commitment and reverence, you’ll likely find yourself facing the consequences of glossing over it a little or a lot later down the line.
By way of example, I recently spoke to two members of a group of new paradigm co-creators who were at an impasse and needed some support. These are beautiful-hearted, talented and visionary people who I believe are bringing something extremely valuable to the table in service to the more beautiful world.
After 7 years in relationship with their other key co-founder, they are now going through an acrimonious, time-consuming, frustrating and upsetting split. They didn’t ever enter into any kind of formalised agreement and now there’s a fight taking place over who gets to do what with their IP.
As you can imagine, they now understand and recognise the importance and value of engaging the agreement process more consciously and intentionally.
The other common story is that groups who are wanting to pursue resources together happen upon an idea that holds promise now for bringing in revenue. They therefore want to get the agreements signed off and out of the way as soon as possible. Perhaps there are supply contracts already in the wings and, naturally, the situation feels time-sensitive and they don’t want to delay because they want to open the channels for the resource to flow.
And whilst I can appreciate the tension that can create, I would caution against rushing into the agreement process from a place of urgency. For one, supply contracts don’t exist in isolation. The resources that supply contracts generate flow into the container of the business, which is held by the agreement field between the participants, which in turn is plugged into the environment of the existing system, through registration as an LLC, a non-profit, an international entity and the bank account(s).
The resource flow comes through the agreements like a series of channels, and if one of those channels is corrupted or out of alignment with the frequency of the higher vision, then even if a ton of money is due to flow in, or does flow in, it’s not going to nourish the organism of the business or the people in the way that the participants hope or intend and, sooner or later, that fracture or fissure created by the decision to rush the process will whip around like a scorpion’s tail, creating an unforeseen and extremely uncomfortable sting.
It’s also important to bear in mind that if the vision is based around a shared devotion to the more beautiful world, then the kind of urgency that causes a tightening and constriction in the body (and thus inhibits the flow of Light through the participants perspectives) is counter-productive. The new paradigm is based on a notion of the Infinite Game, being able to respond and adapt effectively, yes, but putting the development of the individual and groups as vessels of Light first and foremost and trusting that Life is bringing the exact right opportunities in the right timing in service to that.
As such, the process of entering into agreement is not just a draggy “have-to-do” to be taken lightly or rushed over, but a sacred act of initiation that we get to do in service to memorialising the beauty of our vision, the love and trust of our underlying relationship bonds, the commitment and devotion to our individually and collectively held values and encoding our projects and businesses with the source code of the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.
So I encourage you to treat the formation of your agreements as a sacred act, to enter into it from a place of intentionality, reverence and ceremony, recognising that by laying those foundations you’re also laying the first stones on your path of your individual and group initiation journey from the old story to the new.
So, if you’re working towards a big vision that it takes a team to bring to fruition and you’d like to have a conversation about how I can support you in your agreement initiation, DM me for an exploratory connection call.