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Alchemical Entrepreneurship

I’ve recently been spending a lot of time and energy on creating and building up what used to be hobbies into business ventures.  It’s a process that’s absolutely transformative, not just on the level of trying to change the end goal of a pursuit but on a personal level as well.  I’ve been in business for myself before, and it failed primarily because of things I needed to fix in myself that manifested as bad business decisions.

If it’s transformative, it’s alchemical.  Well, that’s my life philosophy, at least.

All alchemical transformations start with calcination.  In a lot of ways this happens naturally when we try to make change.  As the context changes, as you put new expectations on something and shift the motivations, things tend to fall away.  And, yes, sometimes fall apart.  Motivation is like the fire under the cauldron, and when you change the motivation it changes the amount of heat.  Under high heat, some surprising things sometimes end up burning away.

What’s left unconsumed by the fire of changing motivation, then, gets immersed and dissolved.  Choosing to do the things I love as a career puts those activities in a new context, one which makes its own demands and determinations in terms of what’s useful and what isn’t.  The kind of flow which governs our personal pursuits is different from the flow which governs business pursuits, and we have to give ourselves and our processes over to that new flow.

Separation follows, where we have to set new priorities.  I can’t remain immersed in the flow, constantly thinking about pursuing profits, because that’s not why I’m here.  I want to grow businesses from what I love.  I don’t love growing businesses.  The waters of dissolution serve a purpose, after which the useful materials are filtered out.  This is a really huge step in all this, and my previous business failure can be blamed in large part on the fact that I didn’t set priorities.  I just let the waters wash everything away.

What I keep from the process of separation, the important and valuable parts of my passions which remain, have to be put together into a functional new entity.  All these things that I used to do for fun are still fun, but they now serve a different purpose and therefore need a different support system, a different approach and a new routine.  This step, conjunction, is the point where a business gets defined and organized.  That first step where you declare it to be in existence isn’t the defining point in the process.

And then you have to give it life.  It has to ferment.  The pieces have to exist together, work together, be encouraged to grow and develop.  It has to be nurtured and fed.

But that’s not the end.  That process of growth and development won’t produce the kind of business or career I am looking for.  It has to be refined further, distilled into a process that’s purposeful and focused.  It will grow into something that has to be given direction and shape.

And only after it’s been shaped and perfected can it be considered established and fixed.  The process of creation and change isn’t done until this point in the process.

I wish I’d considered the process from an alchemical perspective the first time I tried to build something like this.

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