Our connection to the trickster in business is ambivalent.
We immediately confuse it with the notion of the gangster, the cheater, the imposter. But the trickster energy with her capacity of inducing disarray and turbulence is precious: it waits for its deciphering as a liberating force of modern life.
We are called to apply the unsettling powers of the trickster energy at existential crossroads such as threats of hunger, war, severe illness, and social uprooting.
In times of great confusion, the trickster energy has some unexpected saving power.
We have learned to make lists of problems, learned to rank different types of threats. We try to make sense of what causes what and what to do first to solve a knot. But confusion is what we anticipate or already experience in these days if we dare to acknowledge the signs. Confusion is a state of the mind in which we do not understand what is happening and what we should do. We feel bewilderment, distraction, perplexity.
Trickster´s saving power for mitigating confusion is about stepping over models, recipes, or plans. It flirts with the merrymaking of the non (sense) and the un (shaped). This unique way of encountering with the world weakens belief tyranny and thereby creates hideaways for the mind and the body.
That´s fascinating to me - the trickster energy feels like exciting devotion laced with a dash of friendly madness. Trickster energy gets us off the hook of being shallow and spoiled. And, how consequently, it gives us the pain of more confusion if we refuse to stop forced bigheaded action.
The temptations of charlatanry in business
Our daily business reality shows that we are used to be charlatans, not tricksters. We are all soft criminals and unwanted hypocrites when we jump into the shark tank of global economy. Here a little bit of manipulating customers´ feedback, there a little bit of outperforming the competition by headhunting their talents or stretching the truth about the quality of product materials — as businesspersons we are every day under the spell of dealing with trash and lies.
The international business community brings in constant supplies of obvious business cheaters. Theranos` founder Elisabeth Holmes is in jail now. She pretended to have a blood test available that can diagnose very different diseases. That was a big lie. Wirecard´s former CEO Jan Marsalek, is still on the run. The company, an international supplier of electronic payment and risk management services, fell over tempering with the books. The business public has carried in the moral books that personalities like Elisabeth and Jan are a faux pas, an exemption, among business leaders.
The play rule we accept in silence is “do something rude, but don´t get caught!”. Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli, the Renaissance Italian politician and diplomat, is still a hero for teaching business recklessness today. https://www.amazon.com/Machiavelli-Business-Strategies-Advice-Wisdom/dp/1628737980
Change of scene: Listen with me to a song right now while I explore the impact of trickster energy in business. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCGD9dT12C0 “tell me sweet, little lies…”
May be the hatred and the disfavor that surround the trickster by naming him/her a charlatan etc. persists because we humans need lies and empty gestures to smarten reality, but we don’t want to be confronted with a persona that is a master of an “in between existence” by nature.
In ancient Myths the Trickster Energy is invigorating controversial.
The Trickster plays with disorientation in our lives. As archetype it is represented in ancient cultures in all stories of creation. These fictional characters are masters of supernatural powers that do not fit in a frame.
To name a few from all over the world: the monkey king Sun Wukong in Chinese mythology, the god Krishna in Indian mythology, the god Loki in Northern mythology, the god Hermes and the goddesses Circe and Eris in Greek Mythology, or the power animal coyote and the goddess Wisakedjak in Native American Mythology.
These mythical characters are not messed up criminals or stupid troublemakers.
Trickster´s energy means for these wise fools:
- to trick the intellect and to let the intuition come out and play;
- to stand outside the current chaos;
- to see nothing as a ‘problem’;
- to build crossings where different worlds collide.
What is charming and disturbing about the trickster energy?
Here my checklist, collected in a tried and tested trickster way, which means no order, no ranking. The trickster energy charms and upsets ? I identified 14 different “talents”!
You can touch Trickster Energy by playing with your Bliss Identity Personas.
Already a few of us are willing to integrate trickster energy into their business behavior repertoire. My interviews and assessments with startup founders, CEO´s and investors show that trickster energy is an avant-gardist superpower. Businesspersons with trickster energy enjoy playing with this capacity by slipping into Bliss Identity Personas. It is my pleasure to have created a tool and method shelter for refreshing and refining trickster energy in its contradictory expressions.
Evidently, trickster energy is a behavior capacity that does not work well if you command it as a constant power. Its strength is about activating this loving feeling of butterflies in our tummies when outworn roads have led us to a blind end.
We still are endangered to assume the trickster only to be a grinning lord or lady of disorder. The position is in traditional business thinking not cut out for being a ruler. But imagine trickster energy would rule the business world.
Is this why Elon Musk tricks us? He is in power but does not seem to care.
Trickster and Charlatan — how to distinguish their energies in business?
The charlatan in us is fond of pretentious behavior, of fame and glory and success. Emotions in play are triumph paired with greed, and boredom.
The trickster energy outplays the compulsion of the charlatan. It brings to the emotional table: contempt paired with curiosity, ecstasy, and serenity.
Wow! While I put this observation to paper, I experience again how different the emotional drivers of trickster and charlatan energy are.
The product world today - mostly charlatans, but a few tricksters
Products and services are business cards of a business leader´s consciousness.
You know it´s a product trickster if the product:
- aligns contradictory wants;
- keeps you alert, not lazy or sceptic;
- pushes you out of your social bubbles and mind frames.
I met trickster energy in clothing that shapeshifts due to weather conditions, housing that erects and folds up due to the altitude of the sun or medicine that is based on spatial sound. That´s miles away from the doctrine of disruption at all means, the attitude of just destroying traditions to establish playgrounds for one´s own megalomania.
You know it´s a product charlatan if the product:
- tells that a quick fix will do;
- forces you to see it as the one and only solution;
- promises “no constraints, no risks”.
Products that cheat customers have for instance misleading product labels (think of food stuff that cheats about product ingredients and degree of pollution). Another characteristics: On-line presentation lies (think of products that get photoshopped, looking much better than in reality). Two further proofs that a product is loaded with chalatan energy: bluff packages (think of products that are lying about large volume or exclusivity) or faked rating (think of product recommenndations distributed by bots or paid influencers).
There is a fine line between the fenced-in area of lies and manipulation and
the runway of prudent derangement of order. Trickster outperforms Charlatan!
In which product do I already decipher the sprout of trickster energy? Here three wonderful “deputies”:
- There is this virtual dating game that invites to guess and explore the strengths of another person and yourself without scores and victory benchmarks.
- There is this hospital that combines ancient ayurvedic healing practices with high-tech minimal invasive surgery.
- There is this platform for metaverse avatars that proudly takes appearances from people with Down Syndrome from the real world one to one to the virtual space.
My halls of trickster fame and charlatan shame in business is constantly renewed. If you want to know what your products tell about trickster or charlatan energy, apply for a date with me.
Trickster energy is chasing business empires
The Trickster energy is a provocative force in business because it has no obsession/addiction to heal, to rescue, to improve, or to dominate the world. Thereby it is underwhelmed and immune against seeking social status and celebrating repression.
Trickster energy represents the power of putting "the cruel" out of balance with no urge of recouping "the weak". That contradictory capacity seems to be one reason why it is difficult to classify its manifestation in the long-term evolution of business.
Why is trickster energy so dangerous?
- Trickster energy makes the technology salvation doctrine of „the algorithm is our next mojo!" vanish in thin air.
Imagine how business would look stupid if "the digital" is not the golden calf to worship.
- Trickster energy lets cliques and networks fall apart.
Imagine global and regional marketplaces without gatekeepers for money and resources.
- Trickster energy lures the sustainable business “tribe” into a lustful play with contradictions, away from the delusion of “we know the way out of the mess!”.
Imagine regenerative and resilient businesses that add to their environmental and social impact models a chance for cultural and emotional paradoxes.
If the trickster energy becomes adorable current business empires will face a severe downfall.
How does the trickster energy speak to you?
Book and Film Recommendations
“The Power of the Charlatan”, Grete de Francesco
“Bad Blood”, John Carreyrou about Elisabeth Holmes` business Theranos
“Charlatan” , Film by Agnieszka Holland about Jan Mikolášek