With a 7-year-old daughter, I spend quite a bit of time at the park. As I watch her play with the other kids and eavesdrop on their conversations, it occurred to me how much they have in common with successful entrepreneurs. Between the spats, bumps and bruises, here’s what I’ve learned…
They are fearless
Fear is a learned emotion. Fortunately for kids, before they realize this, they are up for trying just about anything. My daughter happens to be a little daredevil. It is this fearlessness in part that has enabled her to gain confidence, overcome obstacles and boost self-esteem. And while most entrepreneurs do experience fear, successful entrepreneurs step into the challenge rather than let it paralyze them. Instead of seeing fear as a roadblock, they see it as a roadmap to their next opportunity.
They are resilient
How many times have you seen your kid or someone else’s take a tumble on the playground? Before you can even get there to comfort them, they have dusted themselves off and are back at it again. Most successful entrepreneurs will tell you they have taken quite a few tumbles before they got it right. But they never stopped trying. They understand that some of the most valuable learning opportunities can be gained through failure. In the words of business magnate Mark Cuban, “Failing is just finding another way that doesn’t work. You only have to get it right once.”
They are negotiators
I dread it when it’s time to leave the playground. I know when I say those five words –its time to go home—that my daughter will go from “kid at play” to “the negotiator”. She starts making her case for why we should stay a while longer. I say it dinnertime, she says I’m not hungry. I say it’s starting to rain, she says I don’t feel anything. She says 30 more minutes, I say 10 and we usually settle at 15. The ability to effectively negotiate is one of the most important skills an entrepreneur can have. It can be the difference between the success or failure of a business. Successful entrepreneurs come to the table knowing what they want, what they are willing to give and what they are willing to accept in order to negotiate a deal that is mutually beneficial to all parties involved.
They are visionaries
When adults see a playground we see a few slides, a jungle gym, swings and a sandbox. Kids see endless possibilities. They see cities, farms, obstacle courses, castles, racetracks buildings and more. They let their imaginations transport them to an extraordinary world beyond reality. Visionaries like Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Richard Branson all share the ability to magically see beyond reality to create a bold vision for the future. This “if you can dream it, you can build it” mentality enabled them to overcome all obstacles in relentless pursuit of their dreams.
They wake up early
Like children, most powerful entrepreneurs are early risers—some as early as 4am. Several studies have shown that early risers are happier, more productive and more proactive. While most of us are still asleep, successful business minds use this block of uninterrupted time to tackle their to-do list before the demands of a chaotic workday begin. They accomplish tasks like exercising, checking email, reading the news, meditating, and spending time with family. They understand that part of achieving success is the willingness to work when others are not.