As I mentioned in a recent post, I am reading a book called, “A Handbook For Ethics” by Robert C. Solomon. I am about a quarter of the way through it and am finding it very informative.
You would laugh if you saw my task list. I am constantly jotting down ideas to write about; many of them never seeing the light of day. My inspiration fades quickly. An idea has to be strikingly interesting and somehow worthy to share with people who want constant action and pictures of icy trees. Believe it or not, maintaining an entertainment level idling at a full ten on this blog is a chore.
As I was flipping through a few pages this morning, I came across a paragraph that really struck me. It goes like this:
One professor at the Harvard Business School recently wrote that to understand the entrepreneur you have to understand the mind of a juvenile delinquent.
The surrounding text deals with societal rules versus morals and which personality types gravitate towards each. It’s interesting.
(By the way, this book is used. I am not the type of person who underlines every sentence in a book.)
This got me thinking…who are the entrepreneurs I know? Okay, I know quite a few and can personally confirm that more than half were either juvenile delinquents or at least had the mind of a juvenile delinquent. All of them also happen to be male. Let me give you a quick rundown of how these individuals acted in their school aged years:
- If they were asked to sit down, they wanted to stand up.
- Many parents of these individuals didn’t know what to do with them. Some tried therapy and some tried medication.
- A few of these individuals couldn’t think clearly during their early years. They didn’t know why, but they just didn’t want to sit still and listen to orders.
- All of them are intelligent.
- They enjoyed looking out the window instead of listening to their school teachers.
- Most of them considered a teacher as more of an administrator to keep order rather than someone to teach.
- When there was a set daily schedule, it was resisted. They thought that it didn’t matter what they were doing with their day as long as it wasn’t following that schedule.
- Many of them skipped college.
- Some of them dropped out of high school or came close to it.
- Some of them have personally met the principal.
- Some of them have been suspended from school at least once.
- All of them know how to work with their hands and fix things.
- During arguments with their parents, most of them have said, “I don’t need to do that. I am going to run my own business.”
I can go on and on, but I’m sure you get the idea.
I am tempted to find an online list that describes today’s most famous business founders and owners who have been screw-ups for much of their younger years, but I’m not going to bore you with that. We have already seen that list. I just think it’s important to note how many young people are funneled into boredom as opposed to being set free into creativity. I have said on a number of occasions, “If you think a kid needs medication because of behavioral problems, you need to move that kid. He or she needs space so they can find what interests them.” One thing you don’t need to do is to constantly berate that child into some sort of a training program that will lead them into sitting in a cubicle for the rest of their life.
Isn’t if interesting how the rooms get smaller and smaller the worse a child behaves? Especially when all that kid wants is for the rooms to get bigger and bigger?
Anyway, I am getting off topic now. I really didn’t intend to write about behavioral issues. You have to remember, I don’t have children. I don’t have the qualifications to write about the true challenges parents and teachers go through. When people are at wits end, something has to be done. I respect that.
I did a little research into who this Harvard Business School professor is and came up with a name: Abraham Zaleznik. He is the Konosuke Matsushita Professor of Leadership, Emeritus. His quotes on the topic I am discussing have appeared many places, but most notably in a case study called, “Understanding Enterprise, Entrepreneurship, and Small Business” By Simon Bridge, Ken O’Neill, Stan Cromie. If you do a search on Google Books, you can find it. Here’s an excerpt:
I like this comparison because it makes sense. It makes sense because it’s true. As I write this post, my mind wanders to more and more people I know who are working right now as entrepreneurs. While some of these people don’t fit into the classical definition of juvenile delinquency, they have had their fair share of issues. I am also thinking about how things haven’t changed for many of these individuals. While their behavior has gotten substantially better and conforms more closely to societal norms, they still have the fight in them. As the excerpt above states, many of these people get an adrenaline rush from going out on a limb.
I think I’ve said what I needed to say about this topic. I think an interesting thing to do from now on is to take a look at people who carry us through life. Who are the people who are there when we need them the most? Who are the folks who do the things we don’t know how to do? Who are the people who had the initiative to come up with ideas and solutions? Start observing them and then think back to who these people were years ago. How did we treat them? Did we punish them or nurture them?
Remember, oftentimes entrepreneurship isn’t about the free spirit trying to find its way through life, it’s more about being thoroughly disdained with the alternative.
Update: I have to apologize. I was just standing in the shower (where I think the day’s best thoughts) and I realized that this post veered way off track. My intention was to compare and contrast the personal morals of entrepreneurs (who may or may not have been juvenile delinquents) with the more formal rules and regulations of society. I also wanted to establish a relationship between whether or not these morals, rules and regulations are perceived to enhance society as a whole, from the perspective of those who maintain the system we live in. This just goes to show, when we have an idea and sit down to write, we never know what the finished product is going to look like.