You’ve gotta love kids. Their curiosity. Their energy. Their positivity. Their youthful exuberance. Their laughter.
I’ve only got the one. A nine-year-old son, Alex, and he’s a handful. I love him more than life itself, but from time to time he’s made me want to pull my hair out.
Ever since I was young, I’ve loved children, but when you have a child of your own it’s different. They are your future. You do what you can to pass your knowledge onto them, hoping they will have a better life. What’s exciting is seeing them grow up and apply what you have taught them.
These days I focus on helping clients improve their productivity, but my background is in teaching and personal development which is why I’m constantly challenging my son to think.
Henry Ford once said, “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it.” One of the things I love to do is before answering his questions is to have him try and answer it.
We have to remember that a child’s mind is malleable so we need to be careful how we shape it. I think what I’m doing is working because these days he asks me questions that make me think before answering.
Every time he asks me a good question, I jot it down. Here are five that I think every entrepreneur should think about.
1. Do you think I should go to college?
I was the first in my family to graduate from college, so naturally, it was kind of a big deal. Up till the 90s, a college education came with a sort of guarantee of a good job and a good career. That’s no longer the case.
Today, for most people a college degree is the equivalent of a high school diploma. To explain this to my son I used my three-car-concept (patent pending).
To reach your destination, you can drive any car. A Ferrari, a BMW and a Toyota Corolla will all get you there. The difference is how fast and how comfortably.
The Ferrari is the life of an entrepreneur. You can get there fast, and in style, but with such a powerful engine and it being low to the ground, expect some trouble along the way.
A BMW is a quality car. Not quite an elite car, but it’s not called the “Ultimate Driving Machine” for nothing. That’s your master’s or doctorate degree.
The college degree is more like a Toyota Corolla. It’s safe, and reliable. It’s no speed demon, but it will get you there nonetheless.
It is worth noting that in the digital age, no job or position is safe. There is risk in everything we do. The safe and secure jobs have been replaced with ever-changing jobs without guarantee.
So my answer, “If you want to be a doctor, you have no choice. If you want to work at a company, you should. It all depends on what you want to do. “
2. What makes you a good teacher?
Two words – I care. I mean, I really do. While I often share time management tips and productivity hacks with clients, most of the time you might as well call me a problem solver. To operate at optimum levels of productivity, a stress-free environment is critical.
I do whatever I can to help my clients either directly or indirectly to address the issues that are holding them back. For me, there is no greater reward than seeing my clients succeed.
3. What was your biggest mistake?
That’s easy. I trusted three people I shouldn’t have. Unfortunately, all told they almost bankrupted me to the tune of close to $300,000. To make matters worse, I caused my own mother countless sleepless nights because she almost lost her home. Not something an 80-year-old lady should have to go through.
But here’s the thing about life, everything comes with risk. Doing something comes with risk, we all know that. What we forget is that there is also risk in not doing anything as well. Life is not about avoiding risk, but managing it.
We all make mistakes. It’s just the way things work. The key is to learn from them.
4. What do you think I should do?
Jeez. How would I know? From dealing with clients from all different walks of life and different cultures, I have come to the conclusion that people should play to your strengths.
Some people are good at sports. Some aren’t. Knowing our limitations allows us to scratch off those jobs that won’t suit us.
One mistake I see so many people do is doing what they like. But what people like and proficiency are two different things. Finding the sweet spot is the key.
5. Why do people do bad things?
Oh, great. A philosophical question from my 9-year-old son. This is what my mentor, Jim Rohn, used to call “mysteries of the mind.” Why are some people smart? Why are some people stupid? Why are some people lazy? It’s just one of those things.
Every entrepreneur and parent needs to accept that some things just happen. Spending time to try and figure out why is a lesson in futility. Focus your time and energy on things that can make a difference in your life.
Too often people dismiss children for their lack of experience, but they make up for that in curiosity constantly asking about their world around them. They are the ultimate knowledge sponges. While they might not know as much at first, they will inevitably surpass us one day.
We should learn from them as much as we teach them.