Becoming Increasingly “Whole”

Wholeness: The state of forming a complete and harmonious whole; unity.

When we talk about wholeness at GAN, we’re referring to the idea that a human being has reached their full potential.

In many ways, all of us are at different stages of personal development. My wife is a mental health therapist, and when she sits down with people, she finds that they often have some aspects in life where they are advanced and some areas where they are learning new ideas for the first time. A big part of her job is to help people become increasingly whole individuals or to help them grow in the areas they need more development. When you think about someone who is 18 years old, they are developed physically, but their relationship skills are still improving. For instance, they often exploring how to date and figuring out what healthy friendships should look like.

Startup founders are no different. In many ways, they are very advanced, while they are learning other things for the first time. But one of our major goals is that these entrepreneurs become increasingly whole humans, running their startups. We believe they’ll be so much more effective if they are.

We see wholeness as reaching your full potential by focusing your development on the areas where you need it and being comfortable with where you are at on that path as a person.

Perhaps a startup founder is incredibly advanced when it comes to selling, but not very far along when it comes to managing employees effectively. Maybe they are very advanced when it comes to execution, but horrible when it comes to being visionaries. Are we asking everyone to be amazing at absolutely every aspect of their job? Of course not, but we want to be able to help people grow in the areas that they want to improve upon so they can become more whole as human beings.

Most of us know someone that is very aware of what they are good at and what they are not good at. They don’t have any shame about where they lack talent, they admit it freely. They are comfortable with where they are at as humans and have a good sense of wholeness.

We think this is incredibly important for startups—and honestly, equally as important for those supporting startups like accelerators and corporate partners. There is never a shortage of things coming fast and furious at a startup, and there are so many areas where the founders need to be on top of their game. That also means that this is critical for those that support startups because they also need to be at a place where they understand what they’re good at and what they’re not so good at in order to help startups do the same.

The question is, how do we think about this as a community? Whether you’re a startup, an accelerator, a corporation, or an investor supporting startups, there are certain things that we believe we need to do to help one another become increasingly whole.

1 – We Need to be Authentic
Being authentic allows us to be open and honest about where our strengths are and where we might need work. This really allows us to challenge one another appropriately. Obviously, this means that we need to be open with each other about where we are struggling so we can help each other. How will we ever achieve wholeness if we can’t be authentic?

2 – We Need to Challenge Each Other
Certainly, there are more effective and less effective ways to challenge one another. It can be risky if it is taken the wrong way, but as long as we agree to be authentic, your personal development will improve by leaps and bounds when you are appropriately challenged. This is difficult for a lot of people because we tend to prefer to give compliments and positive feedback, which is great, but for our community to be whole, we have to be actively challenging one another as well.

3 – We Need to Fully Understand Others’ Goals
In order to challenge one another properly, you have to understand the other person’s goals. You have probably heard of the term “projection.” In social psychology, projection is when you “project” your goals/issues/beliefs onto someone else. Projection certainly does not fit in well with our goal of wholeness. Not everyone is on the same journey. In order to help someone be whole, you have to understand their goals and desires. Most importantly, you have to understand that their goals and desires—as well as their individual challenges or areas in need of improvement—are not necessarily the same as yours. So you have to resist the temptation to project your situation onto them. The key is obviously expressing our goals so that we don’t end up assuming or projecting them onto each other.

This type of wholeness can also be applied to the entrepreneurial communities that founders call home. Startups are a powerful tool for creating thriving communities and these local communities are at their best when the people within them feel like they have everything they need to live healthy, fulfilling lives. Entrepreneurs can achieve a healthy, fulfilling life when they have access to economic opportunity and meaningful social connection. This is what we believe it means for both entrepreneurs and the places they call home to become increasingly whole.

The GAN community is dedicated to helping people reach their full potential. We do that by being authentic about who we are, by challenging one another appropriately, and by working hard to understand one another’s goals to help everyone achieve wholeness.