Book Review: The Social Entrepreneur’s A to Z
Curiosity fills the social entrepreneur, and little wonder. This impulse to pursue and explore the novel evolved as an essential element of human survival and staying alert to opportunities and threats can seem like a perennial feature of life for a social entrepreneur. Countless new skillsets must be mastered if a social enterprise is to be sustainable. Continuous ideas are needed if solutions to complex social and environmental crises are to be found. But if we are always setting our sights on the next horizon, we can miss learning from the lessons in front of us.
In The Social Entrepreneur’s A to Z – On Anxiety, Leadership and Getting Enough Sleep, Liam Black offers valuable advice that I wish I had received when setting up my first social enterprise. Drawing on his extensive experience in the field, Black covers many of the common issues we face, such as getting the business basics right, learning from failure and building a great team. However, eighteen months on from starting that arduous journey, I am just appreciative of those easily forgotten basics that keep us on purpose.
The last entry of ‘Z for zzzz and getting plenty of sleep’ is an important example. I spent my first year completely ignoring the gentle (and not so gentle) cues from my body to rest. Working the long hours made lots of things happen, but it also pushed me beyond my physical capabilities to the point of burn out. I feel much better after making the decision that sleep is not something we should ever compromise on.
‘X for xtra strong resilience’ was another entry that resonated with me. I have made great progress in dealing with any judgement and criticism that has come since making the choice to turn my passion and purpose into a social enterprise. However, I still struggle not to take rejection personally and can slide back into doubting my self-worth at times. Building resilience is an important commitment that can help social entrepreneurs to respond to challenges from a position of inner strength and abundance, rather than fear and scarcity.
The Social Entrepreneur’s A to Z is a rich guide to support would-be social entrepreneurs setting off on diverse paths to follow their purpose. Established social entrepreneurs will also enjoy Black’s light-hearted and honest approach that might confirm some of your experiences and challenge some of the unhealthy habits we are clinging on to. And it might also encourage us to create and share our own A to Z – ‘C for curiosity’ seems a good point to start my own list.