Friday, 2nd June 2023

Fire up entrepreneurship spirit in your child!

By Gbenga Adebambo
25 March 2023   |   3:25 am
It is very sympathetic to know that children are born as entrepreneurs, but end up in life as salary earners! The educational system was originally designed to furnish industries with labourers and not to develop entrepreneurs.

Children’s Entrepreneurship spirit

It is very sympathetic to know that children are born as entrepreneurs, but end up in life as salary earners! The educational system was originally designed to furnish industries with labourers and not to develop entrepreneurs. The school system introduced during industrialisation was meant to promote remembering and not critical thinking for the sake of creating good employees who don’t think but can remember.

The school system was built during the industrial revolution to feed the industries with labourers, whose value was seen only as a means of production. The original design has not really changed much over the years as it was meant to make graduates into labourers/job-seekers and not entrepreneurs/solution providers.

Parents will have to go extra mile to inspire the entrepreneurship spirit in their children very early in their developmental process. The truth is, every kid carries within him/her the seed to be an entrepreneur. How a single sperm cell can competitively hit an ovary target is similar to what every start-up needs to surmount to get a chunk of the market space.

Just watch a toddler trying to walk – fall down, get up, fall down, get up. Spotting a trend here? Entrepreneurs do that over and over again, too. True entrepreneurs have that fire inside – that no matter what, we’re going to keep getting back up and trying again.

Entrepreneurship is a state of controlling your own destiny. The educational sector by omission seems to be designed to kill entrepreneurship spirits in children. The main culprits are actually the teachers and parents. As a parent or a teacher, I will like to show you how guilty you are in killing the entrepreneurship spirit in children and sentencing them to a lifetime of dependence on salary and pension. This piece will also equip parents, teachers and caregivers on how to help fire up the entrepreneurship spirit in every child.

Kids are born entrepreneurs, but societal perspectives, standards, and expectations most times encroach gradually on their innate entrepreneurial abilities and sentence them to a lifetime of strong dependence on salary and pension. I have drawn out some correlations between kids and entrepreneurs and how parents, teachers and care-givers can ensure that the fire of entrepreneurship is continuously renewed and not dimmed in children.

Help and guide them to question everything:
Kids were born with a lot of questions inside them. An average child asks between 100-200 questions every day. By the time they get to school, they were taught to listen and probably stop asking questions. By the time we become fully grown adults we hardly ask up to 10 questions in a day as the society malignly see this as an indicator of maturity.

I have observed that great entrepreneurs have grown over the years to still keep this childish virtue intact. Every business is a response to societal questions, struggles, and problems. The real purpose of education is to actually train us to question everything, but it is sympathetic that the kind of education we have today trains us only to accumulate and assimilate facts. Albert Einstein once said, “Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think.” Parents and teachers must create an enabling environment where kids can actually ask questions without fear and intimidation.

Help and guide them in challenging the status quo:
Kids can be so confrontational, a new term coined for this by the society is being disrespectful or rebellious! I remember growing up with special objects attached to all the alphabets. We grew up with ‘A’ for ‘Apple’ and ‘B’ for ‘Ball’. It is appalling to know that many years after children still learn the Alphabets this way without any significant change to this very old and archaic order.

Why can’t kids be asked to evolve their own ingenious pattern of learning the alphabet? Why can’t I learn my own way by saying ‘A’ for ‘Ant’ and ‘B’ for ‘Bread’ and probably another kid say ‘A’ for ‘Antelope’ and ‘B ‘for ‘Bucket’?

The purpose of education should be to help children become independent learners. Steve Jobs significantly disrupted the technology space when he told everyone that cared to listen that he was going to put the whole PC (Personal Computer) on a phone! Today, courtesy of Jobs’ defiant nature, the mobile phone can do what a PC does and even more.

We must not kill the ‘confrontational’ spirit in children, though we can make them more enlightened on how to be confrontational but not rude. Entrepreneurs confront the status quo by looking out for better ways of doing things. Thomas Edison said, “There is always a better way, find it!”

Help and guide them in taking worthwhile adventures:
Helen Keller once said, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” Kids love adventures! It is actually the way they’ve been wired, but it is sympathetic to know that most parents see this virtue as being hyperactive, a vice that seriously needs to be tamed and curtailed. When we do not allow children to navigate their environment, we beat them into an artificial world that is just too small for them.

Parents are meant to provide guidance to help children navigate the world around them in a healthy way, but most parents only succeed in killing the adventurist in every child. We believe that a child that stays right where we ask them to stay are obedient while those that navigate away from the spot are disobedient.

One of my mentors shared a discussion between a child and his mother on an airplane in one of his ministry trips. There was this young boy that was very restless and almost creating a chaos in the aeroplane when his obviously furious mother lashed out at him. The mother forces little John to sit down or be spanked. Little John sat for close to two minutes sweating profusely in the air-conditioned airplane when he finally looked at his mother. John said, “Mum, I am sitting as you said, but inside of me, I am running”!

Train them to embrace and learn from mistakes:
Children are programmed and wired to learn from mistakes. My mother once told me a story of how I was unusually attracted to candlelight when I was a child. She did everything she could to prevent my hand from getting burnt but all to no avail. Until the day she watched me reaching out to touch the candlelight without restraining me.

It was the hot wax and flame that actually got me corrected. Making mistakes is an integral part of success. Tony Robbins said, “No matter how many mistakes you make. You’re still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying”. In life, the fellow who never makes a mistake takes his order from the one who does! Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new. Mistakes are an integral part of the learning process.

Any learning process that does not accommodate making mistakes will always short-circuit the learners’ capacity for innovation. Abraham Lincoln said, “The man who is incapable of making mistakes is incapable of anything”. We must stop being overprotective as parents. Let us allow our children to make their own mistakes and learn from them.

Guide and help them in taking risks:
Wendy Mogel said: “Real protection means teaching children to manage risks on their own, not shielding them from every hazard.” Children are inherently prone to risk and are ruthless risk takers. Risk-taking is not only an essential part of childhood development but also an integral part of the evolution of functional adults.

In order to develop functional adults, we must systematically expose children to an acceptable level of risk. Our frequency of risk-taking decreases from childhood to adulthood. Entrepreneurs take risks while salary earners play it safe. In today’s rapidly changing world, the people who are not taking risk are actually the risk-takers!

When your kids turn your room upside down, don’t be too mad at them. They may be finding out ways to express their curiosity and ingenuity. Don’t shout down your children when they are expressing themselves, you may be killing their initiative and inquisitiveness.

The dominant purpose of education should not just be in preparing young people for employment in industries. We need a more robust and holistic form of education that will be value-based and also make room for problem-solving, “multiple intelligences”, emotional literacy, self-discovery, self-awareness, mindfulness, moral discipline, skill acquisition, and capacity development.