The old, classic advice:
Study HARD, get good GRADES, go to UNIVERSITY, get a good JOB, save your MONEY, buy a HOUSE….
This advice probably rings true for almost all Generation X and Y individuals (born between early to mid 1960s to early 1980s). Question: Do you think that same advice is still valuable to our kids today?
As parent to a 17 year old son here in Singapore, I find myself sometimes caught up in this rat race and occasionally, giving in to the invisible pressure of having to make sure he is scoring well and academically inclined. But is that all there really is to succeeding in life? Doing well in school and getting good grades?
With the exposure I have had through my life journey, I discovered that the key to success in the 21st century lies with cultivating an Entrepreneurial mindset.
Here are 5 skills and qualities every child needs to gain that competitive edge for the 21st century.
1: CREATIVE and Independent THINKING
The ability for any human being to overcome challenges and find solutions to problems will add tremendous value to their self worth and perceived value in the world. When a child can learn through mistakes and most importantly NOT be afraid to make them in the first place, they will soon learn from the collected experiences of how they can navigate their way through their future opportunities.
Ultimately, every opportunity in life comes down to how we think about ourselves. Henry Ford summed it up brilliantly when he said “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right either way”
Let your children make mistakes, as hard as that sounds. Support them and ask questions to allow them the opportunity to see a way around problems. Their future Employers will thank you for it.
2: You must ADD VALUE to the world
Think about it for a second. The wealthiest people in the world have been the biggest contributors to evolving the human race. Bill gates and how he helped us advance through the effective use of computers, Steve Jobs and how apple has revolutionized and enhanced our lives in so many ways and Mark Zuckerberg who found a way to connect us ALL over the world.
I learned this from a very young age. The ability to not only add value to people, but to find cheap or broken items, restore them to their original state, increase the value before selling it for a profit. At 16, I would collect lawnmowers thrown on the trash and take them home. I learned to repair them, restore them and was making more in one week selling them than I was in early working years.
The ability to contribute to society through our ideas and creative genius when expressed in the world is the single thing that will allow your child to thrive in the 21st Century. The more you add value to people through your career, your business and the work that you do, the more the opportunities will reciprocate.
When our children become problem solvers and find solutions to REAL-WORLD problems, they begin to see and sense their own value and belief in themselves that they truly can make a difference even as one individual. Universities and Employers are beginning to evaluate candidates based on what they have actually “done” for the world, beyond their exams and test scores.
Find ways to allow your child to see their own value. Involve them in opportunities to contribute beyond themselves, to see how supporting and helping other human beings can be rewarding both financially and spiritually in their journey. Help them kale a profit and generate money to feel that same sense of appreciation that reinforces their belief in themselves.
3: They must be able to COMMUNICATE
There is no point being the world’s best kept secret. It really takes courage, even as an adult to simply talk to other people, especially when out on the spot to answer truthfully and authentically. So how does one find the inner ability to effectively communicate and get their point across?
It is said that statistically speaking, the biggest FEAR that most human beings face is to experience public speaking. The second FEAR is DEATH. In other words, people would rather DIE than speak in public. In my opinion, the ability to communicate and speak our voice is what will allow your child to stand out from the crowd. To be heard and remembered by potential employers or a section committee for any opportunities that shows in their world.
Find opportunities for them to share their passion with others. Toastmasters is a wonderful place for people to find their inner voice and share it from a stage. Show them episodes of the show called “Shark Tank” and see where people succeed with their brilliant ideas not simply because they have a brilliant idea, but most importantly because they are able to sell that idea to the judges. Have them buy and sell and deal with real life situations that allows them the opportunity to communicate with strangers while learning real life skills in the process.
4: Learn to be RESILIENT
Problems and challenges are one of the biggest parts of our life. They are essential experiences for us to grow and evolve as a person. Our character and identity forms through what can sometimes feel like the toughest of times.
Employers today, more than ever, are looking for those that can show that no matter how big the challenge they face, they will always find a way to overcome it and draw learning experiences from the challenge. Failure is therefore never really failure at all but simply an opportunity to learn another way not to do something, bringing us one step closer to a solution.
The best Entrepreneurial example of this comes from the inspiration of inventor James Dyson. You may have heard of Dyson products but have you heard the story behind his successful empire, worth over $3 billion dollars today? It all started in the late 1970’s when he bought a state-of-the-art vacuum cleaner, and was frustrated with how it instantly clogged and lost suction. That single thought or could we even say “problem” is what led to James Dyson’s obsession to create a better bagless vacuum cleaner when EVERYONE told him it could not be done. 5,127 prototypes later and he created SUCCESS in his vision of cyclonic bagless vacuum cleaner that is sold around the world today.
How do our youth learn this level of resilience? They need to experiment, learn from their mistakes, overcome challenges, find solutions to problems and in the process gaining the resilience that future employers will depend on and invest in through sensing your child’s ability to push beyond the limitations of their own beliefs of what’s not impossible even when the going gets tough
5. A need to be Business-Minded and THINK like an Entrepreneur
According to research from the World Economic Forum, 35% of the skills you need to thrive in a job today will be different five years from now. And as Esteban Bullrich, Argentina’s Education Minister so famously put it, a child today can expect to change jobs at least seven times over the course of their lives – and five of those jobs don’t exist yet.
So how do we prepare for these constant and continuous levels of fast paced change? In my opinion, we need to see and sense the humanity behind the scores and academic achievements. Massive changes are already happening within the education system in many countries around the world where governments are now recognizing the limitations of a linear system. The current system designed to educate children is no longer beneficial for the new world we now live in. Soft skills that allow creativity to flow are where future opportunities exist. Individuals need to think like Entrepreneurs or business owners even when supporting the evolution of the company they may work for. Companies are looking for savvy young minds that can help them move and shift with constant changes through continuous innovation and improvement that only these young, creative, entrepreneurial minds can help foresee.
A good friend of mine was very good at using any form of remote control toy when he was a child. Remote control cars, helicopters and airplanes where of course he received the constant feedback that those skills would never amount to anything. Fast forward 20 years later, he now owns and runs one of the largest surveying companies in the world and was a leading innovator in the use of drones in the booming mining industry in Australia. From playing with toys to now a sort after leader of his field, these are opportunities that did not even exist 20 years ago
What am I really saying? Find what your child has an interest in and find ways to support them in pursuing the outside of the box thinking. Encourage their entrepreneurial ventures and work with them to enhance the experience. Find ways to educate them in the world of business and Entrepreneurship that can help them not only survive but THRIVE in their future.
Let them explore their creativity and find ways they can share that with the world. Let them add value to society and never underestimate what they are capable of. Don’t limit them through your experiences; let them find the boundaries through their own. Allow them to make a profit and learn the value of money while they discover their own self worth. Have faith that when you support them with REAL WORLD education then they will be able to navigate their challenges through courage, resilience and a belief in themselves that will let them stand out in this super competitive world we live in.
Andrew Davey, Wealth & Success Coach (I Am Gifted!TM Entrepreneur Programme)