I often roll my eyes when the standard ‘Are entrepreneurs born or made?’ debate arises, and I’ve never found myself satisfied with the ensuing discussion. However, the topic was raised in recent event small talk, and after intense contemplation I want to put forward a different view. I propose that we are all entrepreneurs by default, but that this instinct is gradually destroyed in most people through (1) criticism, (2) development of fears, and (3) overuse of the word can’t.
You’re not good at maths, you’re not creative enough, you’re too slow… criticisms beat the natural confidence out of us. It’s easy to accept comments like these as truths and let ourselves be weakened by them. Our confidence in ourselves and our abilities is so easily stripped away by negative feedback from parents, teachers, and peers.
Fear of being blamed, fear of failure, fear of taking responsibility… we each develop various fears through our experiences on the playground, in classes, or at work. Once we’ve adopted fears like these, it’s much less scary to accept a prescribed role than to take the risk and responsibility of starting something with an unknown outcome.
You can’t do both x and y, you can’t eat cake for breakfast, you can’t see it all in one day… It seems people love to tell us what we can’t do, but why are there so many soldiers for this horrible word? Unfortunately, many of us start to believe the limitations that foolish people set for us.
I love watching groups of kids (in a non-creepy way), and I often notice how effortlessly they think up projects and make them happen. From lemonade stands to bake sales, most kids have entrepreneurial spirits beaming. So why do so few people actually become entrepreneurs in adult life? I’d say it’s not a lack of entrepreneurs being born or made, but rather a strong tendency for these spirits to be attacked and destroyed. In my view, entrepreneurs are people who manage not to let criticisms, fears, or can’ts destroy their natural inclinations.
What you do you think about this debate? Are you willing to share how criticisms, fears, or can’ts have affected you?