My 3-year-old daughter is an entrepreneurial sage.
The other day as I lounged on the couch reading, I noticed her grunting and hissing as she tried quite unsuccessfully to insert a small plastic straw into a Capri Sun juice pack with her small, stubby and uncoordinated little hands. I reached out to help, but as she is independent and often surprisingly resourceful, she would have nothing of it.
She just looked at me and said, "Daddy, never give up."
Of course, this is one of a number of mantras we keep at the house, so I was proud that it had taken root. I was not so pleased, however, with the dribbles of juice she spilled and flung all over as she contorted the straw and juice pack.
Regardless, as I watched her enjoy her veggie-juice concoction with all the satisfaction of a hard-fought victory, I could not help but marvel at her determination and perseverance. Indeed, children can teach us a number of things about entrepreneurship, if we just allow ourselves to indulge in the same imaginative medium in which they operate. For instance:
1. Get over things.
When my daughter gets into trouble or acts up, she has a corner of her room where she sits until she cools down. We have a routine: She does something to which I object, I give her my look and a stern reprimand, she cries and runs to the corner. Five to 10 minutes later, however, she is completely over it and back in the living room as if nothing happened, hopefully wiser from the whole ordeal.
As adults, we often dwell on things in our past much too often, be it a bad partnership or an embarrassing failure that lingers and eats away at our pride. Regardless, the past is the past, and these thoughts often keep us from venturing out and exploring more, taking risks or putting our hearts on the line. Remember that dwelling on your past only keeps you in the corner and from playing in the present.
2. Get into things.
If you have children, you understand that kids get into everything. It is why we have annoying inventions such as electric socket plug covers and cabinet locks. My daughter is no exception. She is an independent soul who wants to do everything on her own. Whether it is making waffles on the weekends or cleaning out the garage, she will opt to jump into the fray rather than something far more comfortable like lounging and watching Team UmiZoomi.
I think this over-ambitious curiosity about how things work is engrained in all children, but unfortunately lost as we get older. As adults, we get stuck in routines and comfort zones, and our lives move forward without challenging ourselves very often.
Today, with easy access to information through mobile devices, educational podcasts and countless online courses, there is no limit to what we can learn. More important, as the reach of the Internet and affordable access continues to spread to developing nations, a slew of people (approximately 5 billion) will have the same access as you. To get ahead and stay ahead as an entrepreneur, you should embrace learning with the same childlike enthusiasm as a 3 year old.
3. Enjoy it while it lasts.
My daughter is growing up faster than I approve. The older she gets, the more independent she becomes, and the less she needs her old man. I am doing my best to appreciate these early moments, as I am sure they will soon be replaced by stressful evenings for me while she is out with her friends in my car.
Entrepreneurship and business is much the same way. I remember the romantic excitement I had when I started my first company, Wild Creations. Unfortunately, I often let that enthusiasm be watered down with stress, worry and doubt and countless anxiety-laden sleepless nights.
Looking back, I regret being focused too much on a perceived destination and not enjoying and appreciating the journey more. Allow yourself to appreciate the entrepreneurial experience the whole way through -- it will be over before you know it.
4. Never give up.
If my daughter can conquer the complicated challenge of a Capri Sun juice box, then you can conquer entrepreneurship.
Children are interesting little creatures. They are messy, uncoordinated and often unruly. They have deceptively destructive powers disguised under cute little pink bows. And yet they can be as inspiring to us as entrepreneurs as we hope to be to them if we just allow ourselves the childlike curiosity and malleability they have from time to time.
Do you have a similar story? Please share with others in the comments section below.