Right now, we’re experiencing what amounts to a worldwide technological renaissance. Much like renaissance Italy, hardly a week…hardly a day goes by that we don’t read about some or other fantastic new invention or discovery.
How did we get here, and how long will it last?
No one can answer the second question. But as to the first, the Boomer generation got loads of encouragement in some very specific ways. That encouragement fostered a generation of creative minds the likes of which the world has never seen. Now all that remains is to see whether they’ll foster that same curious mindedness and adventurous spirit that their parents fostered in them. If you’ve got a son, daughter or grandchild, and are looking for ways to foster an entrepreneurial spirit in them, read on and we’ll identify the specific things you can do to help them unleash their creativity and inner entrepreneur.
They Don’t Teach This In School
They should, but alas, entrepreneurship isn’t taught in school, so you’re pretty much on your own. True, there are a handful of business/education partnerships that show promise, but by and large, your kids and grand-kids learn this behavior by watching you, so first and foremost, set a good example. Let them see you create and innovate!
Kids pay much closer attention to the things the adults in their lives do than we give them credit for. You don’t have to call attention to what you’re doing – they get it. Just let them see you doing it.
At the end of the day, you can boil every successful entrepreneurial enterprise down to one simple truth. Some smart canny man or woman saw a problem and fixed it, and got paid to do it. That’s it. That’s entrepreneurship, and in fact, our entire capitalist economy in a nutshell. Identify a problem and find a clever way to fix it.
That said, encourage your children to become world class problem solvers. Once they get in the habit of thinking like problem solvers, they’re half way there.
Guide, But Stay Out Of The Way
Kids only get good at solving problems if the adults in their lives let them. Yes, sometimes, that means letting them fail! I know, I know, you hate to see your child fail at anything, but honestly, if you help them over every obstacle, then that’s what they’ll come to expect. You’ll kill their entrepreneurial impulse before it ever has a chance to express itself unless you give them the space to try and fail.
No one is saying you can’t provide help, advice and guidance, but when the rubber hits the road, it’s time to stand back and see what they do. Odds are, they’ll impress and surprise you.
A child’s brain is pretty much like an adult’s brain, with one key difference. As an adult, you’ve had it drilled and beaten into you what’s’ possible and what isn’t. Your children haven’t (at least not yet). That’s a good thing, because for a child, almost anything is possible. If they can dream it, they think they can do it, and you should let them. Sure, some, and perhaps even many of their ideas will wind up in the dust bin, but in that regard, Thomas Edison said it best: Genius is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration.
Only a very few people are born geniuses. For the rest of it, our moments of genius take effort. It’s an effort worth making, because when you try and fail, then keep trying until you ultimately succeed. You learn more about yourself than you ever could if someone swooped in to rescue you while you were floundering and frustrated. That’s the gift you should strive to give your kids.
Keep An Open Mind
That one key difference in the minds of children makes a bigger difference than you might expect. As the responsible adult…as the wise old advisor that your kids will seek out when they’re wrestling with a particularly thorny problem, you’re likely to hear some strange, often downright mind blowing things come out of the mouths of your children.
Roll with it. Be very careful not to be the naysayer when your children approach you with a novel solution to a problem they’re working on. It probably won’t be the approach you would have come up with, so resist the temptation to force your ideas onto them. You never know, listening to them that way might be the key that unlocks the door to a whole new way of looking at the world.
Be Prepared To Spend (a little) Money
Invention can be cheap, but it’s usually not free. Build into your monthly budget at least a few dollars to fund various inventions and projects for your budding entrepreneurs. In most cases, you won’t see a return on your investment, at least not in dollars. What you’ll get instead though, is the joy and thrill of watching your children wrestle a complex problem to the ground and come up with an innovative solution. That’s a skill set that will pay them rich dividends for the rest of their lives.
Give your kids the tools they need, then grab a cold drink, sit back, relax, and watch the show. You’ll be amazed. And the best part? You just might have a ringside seat to watch the next great innovator be born.