The Destructive Nature of Entrepreneurship

This blog post was featured in the Huffington Post on April 26, 2016.

Within every corporation, indeed every organization, the (E)ntreprenurial role builds the company. That is the source of energy for economic growth and for advancement in the arts and in science.

It comes in different forms. It is also called innovation, change management, or change leadership.

What I would like to focus on here is the destructive collateral damage that this style produces. And not just by being creatively destructive (to borrow from Joseph Schumpeter), because it destroys the old to build the new. There is another aspect of its destructiveness.

Let me explain.

How does an (E)ntrepreneurial style person – the one who performs the (E) role – how does he or she come up with an idea to do something different, something new?

By being dissatisfied with what exists already.

It is this dissatisfaction that causes the person who performs the (E) role, the one with the entrepreneurial style, to become emotionally destructive to oneself and to those close to them.

My observation is that an (E)ntrepreneurial style has a streak of criticism buried within its center. It is basically a style that is always looking for what is wrong; the act of criticizing is what drives the (E) personality. There is even a joke that manifests this point.

Jewish people are culturally very (E).

The joke: What does a waiter ask a table seated with old Jewish ladies?

“Is anything right?”

Try being married to an (E) style person. Not easy. No matter what you provide, he or she will focus on the half empty glass rather than be grateful that the glass is half full. (E)s are not happy campers. Be ready to constantly have to explain yourself and defend yourself.

And an (E) style does not just criticize and emotionally destroy only others. He or she is driven by self criticism that never ends.

(E)s are tough on themselves. Thus, (E)s tends to be moody, become excited when creative and/or depressed, and go over the top when critical.

Working with CEOs who are extreme (E)s can be frustrating. They are rarely happy. Rarely grateful. Always demanding for more. It is not strange that they are considered to be narcissistic.

If you extrapolate from personal to national style, you will find, it is my observation, that countries with a high (E) component in their culture are countries where everyone is subject to non-stop criticism on everything. Israel is a prime example. In the daily parlance, Israel is called “eretz ohelet yoshveyha” (The country that consumes its inhabitants). You get emotionally grinded if you live in that country. My observation is that the same holds true for the Greek culture.

So, on one hand, (E)s are exciting, creative, attractive to be with, necessary for economic growth, for change, for any advancement in any field, but there is collateral damage that one has to live with; they are emotionally very demanding and often destructive.

Ah, nothing is perfect in this world; time to learn to live with it.

Just thinking.