Be A Spider (4 Wise Moves for Entrepreneurs)

This blog post sponsored in part by the yummy food, great service and free Wifi at Gilbert’s on 17th Street Grill

Even though I’m a writer and creative consultant, I’m a scientist at heart. Most of my work comes from the revelations I have while studying nature and physics.

By David Maiolo (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By David Maiolo [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

On a walk the other day, I saw a huge banana spider suspended between a tree and a building. There was evidence in its web that it had already eaten a few creatures, and it was busy rebuilding the holes that were left.

On another tree close by sat an iguana.

Well, I thought, the iguana will have a healthy dinner.

But then I looked at the spider in the web again and realized I was wrong. There were four things that the spider had going for it that every risk-averse entrepreneur could learn.

1. Make your way by your strength.

Most spiders eat what they catch in their web. Others build traps and eat what gets caught there. Here’s the key: What they build sustains them. The most successful entrepreneurs aren’t selling someone else’s products. Build on the things that sustain you.

2. Know what is your bread and butter.

Spiders eat insects. So they build their webs where insects are: flying between trees, or in dusty corners of your house. Spiders test their success by what they catch—so even if a spider mistakenly builds a web across your doorway, once you walk through it, you’ll never see that spider web there again. If you’re not catching anything where you are, move.

3. Take a calculated risk.

Contrary to Spiderman’s web-slinging in the comics, spiders don’t shoot silk out to build webs across a space. They fling themselves out there, spinning silk behind themselves during flight. Even baby spiders build tiny little parachutes in a process called ballooning (aww) after they hatch and fling themselves into the wind to find new homes. They do that so that they can test the viability of the places they attach their web to. You can’t judge your market or your products with theory. You’ve got to get out there. One of the first things I tell my clients to do is look at what’s already working— but to use that to push themselves deeper into their market. I talk about that on my TEDxTalk here.

4. Stay on the Web.

The spider’s best strength is on the web. Its food gets caught there. It has a great vantage point on its environment. And the spider’s legs are so sensitive to it that any movement on the web alerts the spider immediately. That iguana would have to leap off of the tree in order to catch the spider… unless the spider comes off the web. Once you’ve found the work you are good at, get better at it. Use the gifts and strengths you’ve been given to protect yourself.

And here’s a bonus tip!

5. Have faith in the world around you.

Spiders that are ballooning were at first thought to plan their trajectory. After many years of research, scientists concluded that they don’t really have a plan. They just know they need to move, and move farther than they can jump. When you understand who you are, and what your strengths are, don’t be afraid to jump into the world. Wherever you land, you’ll bring all of that with you.

Be a spider. Just don’t get caught in my hair.

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Hidden Success in the Corporate Workplace

“How do you do it?” she asked.

One of my coworkers had approached me.

Amen

Amen.
Photo credit: Andriana Mereuta

“What?” I asked.

“How do you stay so cheerful?”

We both work in a high-stress, high-stakes environment with constant changes in priority—and one urgent issue after another.

Wow, I thought.

“It’s an inside job, “ I said. “If I paid attention to outer stuff, I’d be insane.”

That’s what I said.

What I meant was: I’m a spiritual woman who prays and listens to inspirational things, surrounds herself with like-minded people and trusts God to guide me so I feel connected to something that gives all this stress greater meaning.

But if I said it was God that would have started a conversation that I didn’t want to have right at that moment.

Because leaving things up to an invisible force is counterintuitive in a world that lauds superachievement and serial entrepreneurship.

Prayer and spiritual study is not seen as real work.  Those of us who are spiritual know that is a lie.

You can live exactly as you have been living right now if you do nothing. In fact, that’s what happens with most people. We see what exists, believe that is all there is, and live life within that worldview.

Every inspired, progressive life– every corporate success story– started with the person believing in something that did not exist yet and working to make it possible.

What is that if it isn’t spiritual?

The legendary Steve Jobs envisioned touchscreen technology, and made it a reality. It didn’t exist until he made it so.

What is that if it isn’t spiritual?

If you listen to the media, people who follow “God” are Westboro Baptists, extreme Zionists and suicide bombers. And “spiritual” people use crystals and channeled messages. I feel obligated to separate myself from those categories– but then I know that isn’t the majority.

I think we need better marketing.

A well-run business follows certain principles, but it’s made innovative when the person running it works those principles to make something greater.

We suffer when we hide the parts of us that are the most vital. My spirituality is the reason I live the life I do – and why I can work where I do and be the blessing that I am. My spirituality, like that of many others, is inclusive and inspirational. It opens my heart and encourages me to serve others. I follow certain principles in order to be part of something greater.

I’m coming out. I’m spiritual, and I do business in the corporate marketplace. How about you?