From ball to block, to ball again

Imagine 60 people kneeling down in the garden of a luxury hotel with a block of wood in front of them and ax in their hand.

This is the position I found myself in last year after me and my son Bart were intvited to participate in a one week event called Fighting Monkey Intensive.

The task:

Picture by  Mike Rafail

Picture by Mike Rafail

Find a partner.
Get an ax and block of wood.
Chop a ball out it.

Throughout the week I worked on this challenge with my son Bart.

It took us many more hours than the teacher who guided us planned out, but eventually we did it.

The block turned into a rough-edged ball, honestly more an egg, after one week.

Today I was reminded again of this experience and how deeply it affected me.

Beyond the act of chopping the piece of wood from one shape to another, I felt an analogy coming up.

We enter the world a a ball: smooth, no edges or rough corners.
As we grow up and proceed through life, forces working upon us quite unconsciously start to form us more into a rectangular shape just like the block.
Our task: to become a ball again.
Except, this time we won’t leave this process of reversal without scars.

In my daily work as an entrepreneurial coach I see a lot of similarities between the process of chopping our ball again and the challenges people approach me with.

Picture by  Mike Rafail

Picture by Mike Rafail

An entrepreneur, to me, is he who when he gets “blocked” starts to chop again.

Like a nomad, he is not afraid to change course and explore when the current ground has been exploited - has no further exploitation potential.

A nomad explores, he does not allow himself to get stuck and when he does,

he starts exploring again and allow his people to explore as well.

In the same way, we start our life as explorers but before we’ve realised it well we find ourselves living for exploitation only, we have found a comfort zone and stay there. We attach to it, and get blocked by it.

Our comfort in exploiting has blocked us from exploring - and day by day, this starts to eat us from inside.

We grow dependent on what I describe in my book as “the small advantage” or the material and financial nomenclatura.

Through our dependence we cannot be ourselves anymore, and all of us feel this.

We are left with two options:

1. Go down and enter what I call “Jurassic Parc”

2. Courageously bit by bit start chopping down the block

Picture by  Mike Rafail

Picture by Mike Rafail

The difficult thing here is that the chopping cannot be done with a machine, you have to do it by hand. It is you who has to do this work. You are responsible.

Scarred with lessons you start again and arrive at point zero.

The problem between us entering life as a ball and slowly finding ourselves becoming this block however seems to be that we love to control.

Within the chaos and constant change of life, we want to control everything.

By intervening we block our own natural process of becoming.

As Jeanne de Salzmann wrote “we cannot do by forcing, only by being.”

The essence is the exploration of man in the chaotic situation from within himself towards sustainable solutions.

In this way everyone is an entrepreneur or every entrepreneur is a perpetual explorer, a nomad.

If we only exploit we become blocked, we become a block - and something in us goes down.

How many times in your life can you chop yourself down again to your most core essence and proceed with what remains?

Picture by  Mike Rafail

Picture by Mike Rafail

Olivier Goetgeluck