Why My Business Has Destroyed Friendships (and Why it’s Okay)

Louisa Leontiades Beastly & Beautiful, Professional Life, Random

Anyone who has started their own business will understand that you live and breathe its ideals and its goals; sometimes you can scarcely talk about anything else and it is [almost] as precious as a child. You feel love – yes love – for those who get involved and contribute gladly to your mission be it customers, suppliers or advisors. Entrepreneurship cannot be learned in college, because ‘Entrepreneurship’ itself is driven by a set of personality traits developed through both nature and nurture.

But it’s also a set of personality traits which considered highly unattractive by some of my friends. They dislike, for example, that my work and life is the same thing. It seems to threaten them.

I am in the empowerment business. And I do not take breaks from being an activist. My beliefs influence my relationships, my ethics and my attitude to life. My blog is also intensely personal, which pisses off many in my British circle who think I am ‘washing my dirty laundry in public’.  But I’ve found that my power lies in wholly integrating my heart with my mind and being authentic in public. When I make relationships – it is never in order to exploit them – but it is always with a mind open to co-creation if such an opportunity should come about. I have a keen nose for synergy and synchronicity. I love my work. It is my life.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t have time for their worries and their interests. In fact ironically, this is kind of what I do for a living now (listening to others mostly).  Nor would I ever blog about them without permission (and if I do, they all have a veto power).

Nevertheless, I have alienated many friends with my passion for my calling–specifically I think–because it generates money for me. They are schooled in the old business paradigm of competition and one-up manship and complain that my bid for freedom and even others’ freedom, has turned me into a mercenary, ready to exploit any relationship to turn a fast buck. It is their view that this is essentially what I am doing, even if what I am doing is something to create value for us both.

They’re still my friends on paper, but because they are uninterested and worse, critical of my passion for honesty, healing and empowerment, I am unable to share a hugely important part of my life with them. Our relationship becomes superficial and uninteresting. It feels selfish to admit that I prefer to turn to others with whom I have more in common and with whom I can be myself. But if it is, then I am.

I’ve noticed that those who turn away from me harbour negativity around money and by inference successful entrepreneurship.  These are the people who say the love of money is the root of all evil. Personally I think that’s bullshit. I believe the root of all evil acts is mankind’s desire to control, dominate and be superior.

Money is just an exceedingly common means to this end. Often we perceive that money IS power and we want more. But money is just a story we’ve created. It’s a piece of paper we’ve said is worth something and we can exchange it for something else.

My desire for money isn’t because I want more power per se, at least not over others. My desire for money is to allow me to have more time for life experience, more personal growth and a greater ability to empower others. I love money. And maybe tomorrow it’ll help me save the world.

The root of all evil belief dulls the glorious endeavour of increasing productivity, taking risks and creating abundance. The point about creating abundance is that it does include money. And there’s nothing wrong with that. The new breed of entrepreneur gives more value in exchange for the cash offered and thus adds to the ever increasing spiral that is great knowledge, wealth and abundance. It’s a good thing. 

It’s true that business and money is more often used for power and superiority. Good business in economic terms is defined as charging more money for a product or service than what it costs to produce. The difference is supposed to be made up in value. However value is often added by that elusive category ‘brand’ which rarely brings genuine empowerment, but often pulls emotional insecurities to trigger demand…making one person the winner and the other, the loser (and that’s not about empowerment).

Many of my friends are also scared of the way I have radically changed. I don’t resemble the person I once was. And with some of them, I have nothing in common but drunken university exploits. I’m okay with leaving that behind and seeing what we can create together now. Co-creation is a passion. But all they want to do is to get drunk with me and try to recapture the good old days. I used to play PS2 with them and get high, sometimes for days. They don’t understand when I talk about creating our own reality, especially if it doesn’t involve a spliff. Yes, I still partake… but rarely and not to avoid the realities of life. Rather to enhance them.

I understand that it is scary to see a friend change and grow. It means that we have lost what we once shared and I have no desire to go back even if it means we are no longer friends. I accept that they have changed in different ways than me and that I don’t feed their desire for drama in the same way. Let’s face it, it was usually by getting drunk and doing something outrageous. I was a highly entertaining friend that way.

The funny thing is that this blog – and my business – represents something even better than drama. It’s the product of challenging old paradigms, exploration of the self, brimming sexuality and new relationships.

In fact my business is about life itself. It teems and bristles with exploration and adventure. And for me there’s nothing more exciting than that.