Are you familiar with The E-Myth?
The E-Myth is a term coined by Michael Gerber in 1985, when his bestselling book The E-Myth first came out. If it’s new to you, here’s a snippet from Wikipedia to catch you up:
E-Myth in the business vernacular refers to the Entrepreneurial Myth, and refers to the idea that most businesses fail because the founders are technicians that were inspired to start a business without knowledge of how successful businesses run.
The mythic and often disastrous assumption is that people who are experts regarding technical details of a product or service will also be expert at running that sort of business. Many small business owners eventually realize that just as they had to learn their technical skills, they have to learn business growth and management skills.
You may have encountered the challenge of the E-Myth in your work, and you don’t have to be an entrepreneur to come across it. The same “myth” applies to leaders in any field or organization who have been promoted into leadership positions based on their technical skills, then found themselves unprepared to lead in their new roles.
Much has been written about leadership skills, management, and career growth. But one element of success as a leader that Michael Gerber promotes may surprise you. It’s an aspect of leadership I think of as being part of the Ninth Practice of Personal Leadership: See Possibility. It’s called imagination.
Listen in as Michael Gerber and I talk about the role of imagination in business success:
Joelle Jay: One of the least concrete aspects of leadership I teach is what I call Seeing Possibility. It’s about being open to serendipity and learning to take advantage of opportunities – to let things happen instead of making them happen.
Michael Gerber: Most people don’t see the miracles.
JJ: Why is that?
MG: What I’ve noticed is that some people are open to possibilities and some people aren’t. Everything that we do, and everything that we create, is enriched, inspired, colored, and flavored by our deeper, more imaginative, more spiritual self. To the degree we’re disconnected by that we create and live in a very flat world.
JJ: Sometimes leadership development is detached from the spiritual self. Does that mean leaders are trained to perpetuate a “flat world?”
MG: The i magination, the spiritual self, has nothing to do with business, but it has everything to do with business. No one can expect to lead any venture or opportunity with any success to the degree they leave out the soul of the process. It’s the soul of the process that brings leadership to life.
JJ: I coach people to reach into the soul of their leadership, and I give them tools to find that deeper, more spiritual side. Some people are comfortable with it, and some people clearly aren’t!
MG: Talking about the soul of a leader is a difficult conversation. It’s bringing people to a level of openness and vulnerability and questioning that they typically don’t engage in, certainly not with each other in a company. It’s now time for that.
We’ve seen what happens in a world without soul. The world is in economic chaos. Leadership in all of the major industries – bank ing, financial services, and on and on – have in almost one moment in time failed us. It’s been a failure of imagination and a failure of soul.
They knew everything about their business and yet they knew nothing. The world is speaking to us as a product of our lack of imagination, and the imagination is the spirit of our soul.
What would it look like for you to bring more imagination to your work as a leader? How could imagination open you up to greater possibility?
In The Inner Edge, you will find a series of Invitations that are part of the Ninth Practice of Personal Leadership, See Possibility. Each one will help you explore more further what Michael calls “the soul” of leadership – the part of leadership that is so deeply and uniquely true to you that when you find it, the magic just seems to happen.
Related: Getting Clarity on your Vision: An Interview with Patrick Byrne, CEO of Overstock.com