Tending and Maintaining a Healthy Startup Culture

So let’s say you’re working with a team and you’ve spent some time deepening in connection with one another;

You’ve devoted time to sitting in presence with one another and shared your personal stories and the trajectories that have brought you into relationship with one another;

Perhaps you’ve delved into and explored your Shared Values with one another and laid the foundations of the energetic architecture of your organism;

Spent time weaving your Shared Vision, taking it all the way out to the the most magnificent and limitless possibilities and then scaled it back by various orders of magnitude such that you have short, medium and long term goals pertaining to your Shared Vision;

Perhaps you’ve even created an artifact (or MVP) that articulates your Shared Vision outside of yourselves in a way that you all feel aligned in orienting around.

And while all this cultural soil tilling and groundwork is being laid you’re also starting to build momentum in the business itself, having phone conversations with prospects, clients, suppliers, and/or distributors;

Working to get your relationships, deals and paperwork in order, to make the magic happen.

Inevitably, as you get going, momentum will start picking up around the “to-do”s related to your business.

As you’re putting energy out, making connections and generating interest, before you know it, you’re in the hustle and bustle of it all.

During this phase of your organism’s development, we invariably want to contribute as much as we can to support the organism’s growth, to show up as good parents, so it can be really tempting to throw ourselves in head first, and just start blindly do-do-do-ing as much as we possibly can.

Before we venture any further here, I just want to acknowledge the fact that up until now, as we’ve already spoken about in my article 𝐀 𝐓𝐨𝐩 𝐃𝐨𝐰𝐧 𝐒𝐭𝐫𝐮𝐜𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐞 𝐯𝐬. 𝐀 𝐏𝐞𝐞𝐫-𝐭𝐨-𝐏𝐞𝐞𝐫 𝐂𝐮𝐥𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐞 most of us have been conditioned in top down hierarchical systems.

As such, please don’t be surprised if some of the habits, patterns and behavioral norms that you developed in a traditional business context seep into your new business in the early stages (like habitually do-do-do-ing as just one example).

On a personal note, in the corporate world of law where I came from, it was normal for people to stay late in the office. In fact, you were encouraged to, rewarded for it and it was mighty difficult to meet your billable hours targets if you didn’t stay until 7pm, pull the occasional (or not-so-occasional) all-nighter or weekend work shift.

And even subsequently, as an entrepreneur running my own business, given that there wasn’t anyone else to be accountable for the operations and success of the business, I would often find myself working all hours to make sure that everything was attended to.

Realistically, until we have new habits to lean into, the ones we’ve developed from our participation in this old game naturally represent well-worn behavioral grooves that we can easily slip into as soon as we start putting our attention into a new endeavour.

But if you’re now looking to grow your organism in a way that aligns with Nature’s intelligence, then these are the kinds of subconscious patterns you’ll want to start bringing into your conscious awareness, and begin to shift, as you’re stepping into relationship with your team and learning to play a NEW GAME;

One that allows you to prioritize the behaviors, norms, habits and attitudes that you 𝐰𝐚𝐧𝐭 and CHOOSE to engender into the culture that your organism is growing within;

One that supports you coming into ever deeper connection with other members of your team and tribe;

And that provides the kind of structure that supports you to live into the values, principles and designs of the more beautiful world you’re envisioning;

So that you can begin to organise as a group in a way that is supportive to your individual and collective development in devotion to actualizing your Shared Vision.

So if in the increasing hustle and bustle you’ve already started to notice yourself playing out some of those old game patterns:

(a) Don’t worry — that’s understandable, because up until now, given the ways that humans have approached the practice of business, this is typically what it’s taken to build up enough momentum to get a business off the ground;

(b) We all know how easy it is to get swept up in something that we’re excited about or feel responsible for and to lose track of time, lose our awareness and commitment to our self-care, and/or neglect to put as much attention on the quality of our connections with the people we love.

But if we’re pushing ourselves to make things happen rather than going with the flow, putting ourselves last (behind responding to the late night emails and phone calls) and/or neglecting our relationships, it won’t be long before we (and the organism) really start to feel the impact of it; and

(c) Given that we are now talking about business as a journey and practice of embodiment, this therefore invites a reorientation in our approach such that we’re prioritising keeping our bodies open and relaxed throughout the process of growing our vision to fruition.

So once the ball’s rolling, your business is in motion and it starts to have a momentum of its own, how do you continue to tend, maintain and nurture a healthy startup culture?

First let’s be clear on what a “Culture” is:

A 𝑪𝒖𝒍𝒕𝒖𝒓𝒆 is a product of the aggregate of our 𝐛𝐞𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐢𝐨𝐫𝐬, 𝐧𝐨𝐫𝐦𝐬, 𝐡𝐚𝐛𝐢𝐭𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐚𝐭𝐭𝐢𝐭𝐮𝐝𝐞𝐬 𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐞.

So, what this tells us is that, whether we’re aware of it or not, our organism’s culture is forming by virtue of how we’re showing up….

….with continuity…..

……over time.

If we’re consistently doing ᴀ̳ɴ̳ʏ̳ᴛ̳ʜ̳ɪ̳ɴ̳ɢ̳, whether that’s:

- Having late nights;

- Starting late in the mornings;

- Eating an imbalanced diet;

- Spending time glued to the computer screen;

- Not getting exercise;

- Smoking;

- Feeling wound or stressed most days;

OR

- Exercising regularly;

- Eating a balanced diet;

- Having creative writing time each day;

- Spending time out in Nature;

- Incorporating prayer, dance, ceremony and ritual; and

- Celebrating wins and milestones

then that’s the culture that we’re beginning to instantiate and that will engender the organism’s culture over time.

To be clear, there’s no value judgment on how you choose to show up (as there’s no right or wrong when it comes to these things) it can just be helpful to think of it in terms of how you’re choosing to show up as the gardener of your garden or ecosystem.

You could just plant the Divine seed of your vision and put very little attention or intentionality into the cultural soil and just wait and see what happens over time;

Only to return a year later to find that the weeds have overtaken it, there are some plants that are not getting enough water, there’s not actually the fertilizer in the soil to help it thrive;

And then you’re having to weed the garden more later on.

But if as the gardener of your ecosystem you’re really tending it with intentionality and care from the very beginning, with that first seed planting, and you’re also considering the more subtle aspects like the energetic and relational layers that influence the culture, then you’re not only going to be saving yourself a lot more trouble later down the line;

You’re actually setting yourself up for success.

Why?

Because….

CULTURE BEATS STRATEGY

So having our awareness on what culture is actually forming in our garden or ecosystem over time is vital for creating the environment for it to thrive.

If your team is ready to explore what it’ll take for you to tend and maintain a healthy startup culture in your organism, feel free to DM me to explore how I can support you.

As a former lawyer, Anna merges material world memories, tales of transformation and embodied experience in articulating the future of collaboration

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