12 PRINCIPLES: ORIGIN STORY

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Someone recently asked me how I came up with the list of 12 Principles for Prototyping a Feminist Business. I forgot, at the time, how they came about and told her simply that I authored them like a writer or a poet, not like an academic researcher. This is true. But also, there is more.

I was subletting an apartment in Silver Lake, Los Angeles, for two weeks after putting all my belongings into a storage unit in Portland, Oregon. I was out-of-my-mind with anxiety about writing the Proposals for the Feminine Economy talk and wrenched by a recently-failed relationship, in addition to being technically homeless. Every day, I would walk the three-mile path around the lake in Silver Lake, which is not really a lake at all but a municipal reservoir. Then, I would go into the upstairs office, doubled as a nursery for the small child belonging to the friends from whom I was subletting. I would sit at the desk overlooking the reservoir and write. Or, more accurately, try to write. 

First, I made an ink-on-paper pages-long list that included mantras, koans, imparted wisdom, soothing reminders, and truths I was grappling with. There was no shortage of material as I was emotionally working through betrayal, heartbreak, fear, and dislocation. I mapped out the seven chakras, knowing that each of these represent a different level of personal power. I figured that if I had at least one principle for each chakra, I would have a comprehensive framework for entrepreneurial empowerment. Then, I sat down at the worn oak desk with my notes to write the talk. But it was hopeless. My anxiety was compounding, nothing was flowing. 

More walks around the lake.

Days in, in a state of total despair, I began to lie on the nursery floor and stare at the lofted ceiling. I focused on breathing and trying to stay in my body. I would close my eyes and watch the colors behind my eyelids. I would feel into my back on the floor and b-r-e-a-t-h-e. Surely, bits of information began to arrive. I only received one principle at a time. But, it would always arrive succinctly, in completed form. When it came, I would stand up, walk to the desk and write it down. I would then lie back down on the floor. And breathe. For hours. This was my process. This is how I birthed the 12 Principles. 

The Principles we are working vary slightly from my original list. Every time I dive in to work with these, one or two principles invariable mutate. I'm cool with that. My goal is always to keep them in present time. 

These are the criterion that keep me moving towards wholeness, embodiment, integration and healing, giving me courage and permission to be audacious with my business practices. 

Throughout the course, I will be sharing a few activities from the 12 Principles Workbook to help you engage these principles in your practice. As you begin to work with this framework, I invite you to let it shape-shift into whatever it needs to be for you. Feel free to re-write, edit or erase any or all of these as you bring them into your own business. 

My intention with these is to help you become more awake, alive, and radical in your business, in your body, in your life. Use these in whatever way they serve you, to this end.


12 PRINCIPLES FOR PROTOTYPING A FEMINIST BUSINESS

A framework for the practical application of the tenets of the feminine economy.

1. You have a body.
Create structures that support and nourish your body and all the other bodies you know.

2. You are connected to the earth, the plants, and all living beings.
Cultivate loving, healthy relationships with plants, animals, people & the earth. Commune. Think about our shared future.

3. Integrate!
Gather all your parts. Reclaim the pieces you have lost or forgotten. Forgive yourself. Come home to Your body. Own your skills, talents & abilities. Step into wholeness.

4. Institutionalize empathy: build frameworks that support feelings. 
As we learn to empathize with ourselves, we naturally begin to empathize with others. Attunement to feelings guides us to the fulfillment of needs. The regular fulfillment of needs is the foundation of a sustainable life.

5. Embody your values. 
Cultivate your inner authority. Act with intention. Innovate new business practices rooted in your principles. Making choices in alignment with your values is the root of healthy self-esteem. Thriving economically while living your values is deeply disruptive to the current social and economic order.

6. Reclaim happiness: new definitions of success. 
Release the life you were told you would, could, or should have and imagine anew. Seek happiness, pleasure, & the fulfillment of your needs. Move towards the things that bring you nourishment and joy.

7. "Consider everything an experiment." — Sister Corita
Do not wait until you know to act—anything you don’t know you will learn in the process. Improvise. Iterate. Ask questions. Ask more questions. Explore! Give yourself permission to not know and to make mistakes. Find freedom in uncertainty. Be receptive and responsive instead of predictive and protective.

8. Free yourself from the myth of the meritocracy. 
There is no earning. There’s no deserving. There’s no reward. Divest your ego of the want to prove itself through struggle, sacrifice, and hard work. Become attuned to your needs and honor them as they arise. Feel into your body. Let inner wisdom be your guide. Go where you are called. Eat when you are hungry. Rest when you are tired.

9. Tell the truth. 
We are being so thoroughly lied to it's an epidemic. Say how you're feeling. Admit when you don't know. Speak your truth. Repudiate lies, deceptions and misrepresentations. Hold yourself and others accountable. Own your talents and abilities. Advocate for the people and things you believe in. Use your voice.

10. Cultivate abundance consciousness. 
Feel your deep connection with the earth—nature is abundance embodied. Scarcity teaches us gratitude and responsibility. Be grateful. Remember, wealth has nothing to do with money. Practice radical self-love. Nourish, nurture, savor. Feel how rich you are already.

11. A business can be a healing for yourself & others. 
Everything that you are needing, someone else is needing, too. Everything you are healing for yourself you are healing for someone else, too. Make your business a medicine, a salve.

12. A business can be a model for a new social & economic order.
As entrepreneurs, we have the opportunity to agitate the current social, political & economic order by experimenting with new business models that honor our values, our humanity, and the earth. 
A feminist business can model new ways of living, working and being together. this is about transforming our relationship to money, to work, to the earth, to our bodies, and to each other.
This is about redistributing power & resources, based on feminine principles.
This is about radical social transformation.
This is about making the world you want to live in.

Jennifer Armbrust