Staff Picks

Zentrepreneur: Create a Culture of Innovation and Fearlessness by John J. Murphy

Sally Haldorson

September 25, 2013


Rather antithetically, Murphy isn't suggesting we get out in front of the pack to lead it, but instead step aside by creating a system that allows for change.

9781601632869 "Get Out of the Way and Lead" are the first words you read on the cover of John J. Murphy's Zentrepreneur. Rather antithetically, he isn't suggesting we get out in front of the pack to lead it, but instead, to step aside by creating a system that allows for change. Despite the title, the advice doesn't stem fully from a Buddhist philosophy as much as a polytheistic spiritualism that can work for anyone with an interest in finding a more balanced approach to leadership. This isn't a book that is going to steer you toward meditation and passivity, but it will help you stop trying to control and demand. "We cannot tap this infinite field of possibilities if we are afraid or in a state of apathy, denial, or resistance. We have to detach from the habitual, autopilot mind and think outside our mental boxes. We have to delete the negative programs and limiting memes of the mind." Here is his very unique Table of Contents that hints toward the kind of questions Murphy believes will start you on a quest to start looking at possibility rather than resistance: 1: What If? 2: Why? 3: Why Not? 4: Who? 5: How? 6: When? 7: Yeah, But... 8: So What! 9: Now What? "What If?" is about possibility. The key, Murphy says, is accessing "zenergy," or a sort of harmony.
Zenergy is ineffable. It is difficult to describe with words. Like the words grace, love, joy, forgiveness, and compassion, it must be experienced to be understood. People describe it in different ways, but the only way to know zenergy is to feel zenergy. Think of it as a divine energy field, a cosmic soup surrounding, connecting, and penetrating us. It is within us and we are within it. It is sacred intent. It is life force. It is Source energy. To tap zenergy, we must lead from the heart and soul. Fearlessly and without doubt.
Despite some of the less concrete language, Murphy advocates an approach of equal parts careful consideration and positivity. Being a zentrepreneur isn't just about the heart; it's also about applying a system. Murphy is inspired by kaizen, and suggests first developing a "baseline analysis" to identify hidden inefficiencies. Then, when trying to develop solutions to those problems, a zentrepreneur will ask "Why Not?" in order to free herself from rote thinking. The answer to "Who?" is: a great team. And so on through that list of chapter questions. Throughout the book, Murphy steps us through streamlining, setting expectations, and seeing "time as an ally." One of the most difficult challenges all innovation comes up against is resistance. Instead of banging your head against the wall, Murphy advises, be prepared to answer any "Yeah, but..." that comes at you. A lot of this resistance is based on assumptions that are either untrue or are alarmist and there are more creative ways to get around it than try to go through it. And finally, Murphy closes with how to assess whether the change has been implemented. "Measure your situation and the results you are currently getting. Be specific and accept the brutal facts. Let go of your defenses and rationalizations. it is what it is. You cannot change the past and you cannot change the present. The only thing you can do is influence the way you go from here." A business consultant, Murphy peppers Zentrepreneur with personal experiences as he has led change initiatives in a variety of organizations. The result is an effective hybrid of a book which will both speak to you on a personal as well as a professional level.

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