RAISING ENTREPRENEURIAL KIDS
The life of an entrepreneur is not for everyone. I have learned this as a result of 35 years of being one. From those early days of my entrepreneurial journey when my twin brother and I at 13 would purpose to collect empty cans and bottles left on the grounds of the baseball fields in Central Park (we grew up only a few blocks away in Spanish Harlem) for the nickel value of each, to where I am currently, Keynote Speaking (and everything else in between). I have come to the realization that the life of an entrepreneur comes with it’s challenges but also rewards. Those challenges are often what keep most people from attempting to take a leap of faith into an entrepreneurial endeavor or cause many to stumble and, ultimately, abandon ship on their efforts. These challenges can be extremely difficult to bare at times and can be blamed for the demise of any entrepreneur's dreams. Ask any entrepreneur what their greatest hurdles can be and you’ll find uniformity in their responses from the lack of certainty at times, the emotional roller coaster, setbacks mixed with accomplishments, the battle between fear and faith, and seasons of feast and famine just to name a few. So, why then pursue an entrepreneurial life? Well, if you ask entrepreneurs that question you will find a host of common answers stemming from a life of adventure, an innate desire to create, the pursuit of freedom and control, and the potential for financial rewards that could never be found working for someone else. Finally, many would agree that the rewards always outweigh the challenges.
Raising kids to experience the entrepreneurial life can be one of the most impactful lessons they can learn from their parents. By the way, you do not have to be an entrepreneur in order to raise one. You just have to provide the proper exposure, encouragement, environment, and resources to support the development of an entrepreneurial spirit. While there are a number of essential keys to raising entrepreneurial kids, I have identified what I submit to you are the 3 essential ones.
The first is to help make them aware that there are a number of ways to generate an income or make a living. This is important because the encouragement of pursuing entrepreneurial endeavors and dreams have been fairly scant and silent from the academic world which focuses more on employee readiness than entrepreneurial preparation. Kids must know early on that they do have options in how they can create a vibrant and rewarding working life apart from working for others and that not every employment "shoe" fits every “foot”. Secondly, helping kids identify what they are naturally good at or what they enjoy doing is a major step towards fostering an entrepreneurial spirit. Working with your kids in exposing them to what they are gifted to do is a key exercise because it reveals to them areas to pursue or expand their talents upon. The reality is that whatever someone is gifted to do they never see as work. It simply becomes an effortless expression of a voluntary joyous action. This leads me to the third and most vital key to raising entrepreneurial kids and that is the emphasis that passion trumps profit. In other words, the pursuit of profit should always take a back seat to the pursuit of passion or the love of what you do. I have made it a habit to ask my kids throughout their formative years what they would dedicate their lives to doing if they never made any money at it. This question extracts from them a deeper understanding of calling and purpose. When you recognize what your calling is and realize your life purpose, then you will see your daily life and work activity through a different set of lenses. Your motive behind your entrepreneurial movement will not be based on money but the joy of knowing that you are becoming the person you were meant to be. As a result, money will flow to you in abundance.
As a father of 3 children, I continue to provide each of them the opportunity to develop an entrepreneurial spirit if it is within them. I strive to foster an awareness of the different ways that someone can earn a living apart from being an employee. As of this blog, my 19-year old daughter has developed a part-time photography business, my 17-year old son is in the early stages of creating a military style personal fitness business, and my 8-year old charges his family one dollar to see his incredible Lego creations on display. Even my brother, a real estate entrepreneur himself, has an 18-year old son with a promising DJ and music production business. All of them are budding entrepreneurs.