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Opening Up A World Of Opportunity When an idea comes your way, do you recognise and fight for the opportunity to see it through? Because that's what marks the heart of an entrepreneur.

By Alex F Goldsborough

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You're reading Entrepreneur South Africa, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.


Ideas are a precious thing; it's the entrepreneur's job to recognise them as such and exploit the opportunity.

Focusing only on what's before him, the rooster seems content with his fate. He limits himself to the single task of gathering corn. He doesn't consider expanding his horizons, and opening up whole new worlds of opportunity. His task is singular, narrow, dull, without curiosity or ambition — there is no vision, no passion.

Brutishly, he can't be bothered with the discovery of a gem of an idea. He doesn't understand how a good idea has the potential value of thousands of barleycorns. He doesn't have to throw caution to the wind. Positive change will come with discipline and a good plan, hard work and vision.

Entrepreneurs are pragmatic dreamers, always keeping it real. But the rooster, unable to recognise any potential, without drive to develop and exploit, gets right back to his mechanical tasks; the comforts of his little box and the scarcity of food. He will never become an entrepreneur who seizes opportunities to solve problems and add value, and is curious about new life experiences, a sense of purpose, and a search for fulfilment.

Adding value to your idea — and yourself

Entrepreneurs add value to business ideas but also to themselves. Self-esteem and self-actualisation are the result of personal growth and discovery through new experiences and lessons learnt from overcoming challenges.

As the best dramatic characters have rich arcs, entrepreneurs become actors in their own dramatic journey. Their need for independence and a personal locus of control are driven by passion, discipline and steadfast commitment.

To the rooster, fulfilment is simply to peck at corn, day in, day out; and not to consider the gem as anything more than a pretty stone. His world starts and stops at the corn. But not so with the entrepreneur.

The Rooster as Entrepreneur

Now consider the difference if the rooster was an entrepreneur at heart. The sight of his starving family weighs heavily on his mind and soul — he has to do something to change their destiny. As a family man, the rooster feels the fire burning inside him. Necessity becomes the mother of invention — this gem, this idea will help him finance and build a business.

He can buy some inventory, build a network of distributors, take some accountancy and marketing classes. His discovery, together with his expertise, ideas and plans will benefit his children, provide them with opportunities he never had — expand their horizons, provide them with tools and skills to think out of the box and improve their lives.

The rooster's drive comes from within, a struggle to effect change; fuelled by a powerful sense of love, duty, and care towards his family; strengthened by a strong sense of self-esteem and self-actualisation; and a thirst and hunger satisfied with the nutrients of creativity and spiritual growth. With this vision in mind, the rooster understands the importance of seizing this gem of an idea, to become an entrepreneur and become the change agent of his family's destiny and that of his own.

The Rooster and the Jewel

A rooster, scratching for food for himself and his hens, found a precious stone and exclaimed: "If your owner had found you, and not I, he would have taken you up, and held you high in the light; but I have found you for no purpose. I would rather have one barleycorn than all the jewels in the world."

The lesson: Precious things are without value to those who cannot prize them.

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