How are you charged as a founder?

Where has the euphoria gone?  

The question I get most often from founders is: “How do I get out of the delusion of the day?” Is what you are doing now still as much fun as it used to be? Or did you lose your enthusiasm somewhere along the way? 

Do you remember, for instance, that when you just started your company, you knew exactly where you wanted to go? That you felt it in your bones that you had a unique idea – the solution to your customer’s needs or problems? Is that feeling still there? 

Many founders tell me that they gradually lost the euphoria they felt in the beginning. Although they got the flywheel moving and it even started gaining momentum, it wouldn’t accelerate under its own power. In fact, it started to slow down. On a day-to-day basis, it is mainly uncertainty that is bothering them. They are busy solving yesterday’s problems, and can hardly find the time to look ahead. That’s the slowdown, and it is dragging them down. 

The founders I speak to spend a lot of time doing ad hoc work in their businesses, when they are dying to get started on their vision and strategy for the future. Before they know it, the day is filled with personnel and organizational problems, worries about finances, and retaining and attracting new staff and new customers. These are their top four headaches. There’s no let-up: At night, they fret about their employees, whether their product or service is still unique enough in the long-term, and how to innovate while managing risk. They long for a well-oiled machine. But then the next day begins. 

Without exception, founders tell me that they simply don’t have enough time to make good choices. I see them struggling to prioritize, mainly because they lack a vision and focus. This has repercussions in many areas. Increasingly, they also worry about their own health and private lives. They spiral out of control and lose track of the big picture. A recognisable trend for many founders: being driven by the delusion of the day.

The delusion of the day rules the founder who’s avoiding something 

When I ask founders what they really want, it is to be released from organizational turmoil. They also wish for their staff to be happy and inspired and for there to be financial predictability in addition to sufficient customers. But that’s not all. When I ask further, there is more, much more.  

Actually, most founders do not aim purely for profit. Above all, they want to get back in touch with their deep desire to matter, to make a difference, or to be seen and recognised. They want to leave a legacy.  

I ask them: “Do you share your deeper motivations and vision with your team and clients? Or do you focus mainly on the operational problems? If they opt for the former scenario, they will undoubtedly be able to solve the problems outlined above. If the latter scenario is true, they will end up grinding away even harder in their business. 

The latter choice is actually the creator of the delusion. These founders are spinning in circles because they are not looking ahead in the right way. If this ad hoc rhythm persists long enough, traces of wear and tear appear in the business. “It’s the same song over and over again. We are not being heard!” teams tell me regularly. And though the founder often feels the same way, she prefers not to face the harsh reality. 

As long as the founder ignores this, she outsources the issue. Unconsciously and unintentionally, the team is saddled with the founder’s suppressed feelings, and this is felt in every fiber of the company. The cause of the problem often lies in the past, sometimes even a generation (or more) back. This is why Vision Aligns’ processes always start with the question: How are you charged? 

Unaddressed pain from previous generations can echo for decades  

Why is this question so important? When I started my own business, it became clear to me that I myself had been heavily influenced by something I was not really aware of. As a child, I had always watched my parents work very hard; they too were ruled by the delusion of the day. I still admire their decisiveness, but something in me also always longed for fun, time, and genuine attention. Inspired and effective entrepreneurship: I wondered if they could co-exist.

I started digging and came across research supporting the idea that the effects of past events can echo through generations. For example, deep-seated fear in one generation can cause a greater sensitivity to fear in the next. As long as this problem is not solved at its core, it is passed on to the next generation in a slightly different guise; it is outsourced and, in this example, fear continues to reign in a new form. 

This brought me to the question: “How am I charged by my history?” I discovered in the years that followed that this charge had had quite an impact; it determined almost everything I did. It proved no different for other founders. The marks were evident in how they had set up their businesses. The effect of their charge was also evident in the kind of relationship they established with their team, environment, and family. Understanding how you are load charged is one of the key success factors in the processes at Vision Aligns. Indeed, this insight resets the flywheel with a true intention. This time, it accelerates and gains momentum. 

The common denominator among the founders I coach is that they are all born leaders. They are inspired, looking inward when things go wrong, and outward when things go right. They have enormous ambition but are also modest at the core; it’s not actually about them. They sometimes only lack a clear and manageable path into the near future; they lack the concrete translation of their vision. 

How you are charged is how you operate 

Founders accompany themselves when they set up their business, and that is good, up to a point! Their inspiration, decisiveness, and innovative spirit drive the business, but when feelings of fear, sadness, or anger are around the corner, it often becomes a different story. What you once learned about what to do when the going gets tough, you use today. History repeats itself.  

So ask yourself: What strategy do I apply when things start to chafe? And what did my parents or guardians use to do in similar situations? The question you can then ask yourself is: Am I reacting primarily from vision or am I pushing something through with a short-term view? In the first case, you are showing leadership; in the second, you are managing ad hoc. The trick is to know the distinction between the two. 

What choices a founder makes has a lot to do with his personal charge. It is fascinating to see how often a pattern has been set generations before. So check for yourself where history is repeating itself. It is precisely with this knowledge that you can predict an important part of the future. 

What Barbara’s clients have said: 

“Discovering how I am charged as a person is by far the most important thing I have learned as an entrepreneur in the past year. I now have a much better understanding of how I have managed my business over the past few years. This knowledge has given me a sharp picture of how I will do things very differently in the future.” (Richard Groot, hospitality entrepreneur)

“Discovering my charge felt like a ‘karmic birthday’. It has had a great impact on my next steps.” (Manfred van Doorn, Founder of Double Healix)

Want to read more experiences of other founders who have worked with Vision Aligns? Click here 

‘How are you charged’ is step 1 on the critical path to a solid business. 

Read more about how to build a visionary business here