How to kill an entrepreneur


It’s not that I blame parents and education for diminishing self-esteem or confidence entirely. I am, after all, a schoolteacher and I take pride in that. We love to showcase children’s accomplishments and the part that might interfere with creativity is truly not our choice. We, like millions of professionals in this world, must do as we are told. The Robin Williams’ of this world are the exception not the rule. They are also fictional. And in the end of Dead Poets Society, he was fired.

Creativity and self-esteem is crucial for the entrepreneur. In fact the entrepreneur is one of the most creative of all business professionals. The fact of the matter is she has probably been wildly creative and successful in her artistic endeavours since elementary school, when her abilities were admired. Her thinking was off-beat, it ventured off the “beaten path.” Something happened in her later years in school, and it convinced her that she wasn’t as talented or that her talent had no use.

There is an artistic exercise I have used with my class where the teacher passes around an ordinary object such as a pencil. The children’s job is to imagine another use for the object  I passed around a pencil in a grade 3 class. They came up with fabulous and funny ideas. The paper clip story may be a hoax since it originated from a lesson experiment in a research study. Kindergarten children were asked to find new uses for a paper clip and their ideas were incredible. Grade 7 students were asked to do the same and their ideas were limited. Here’s a great idea for a box of junior mints.

When teachers and parents talk about the fine arts they state with confidence that those accomplishment aren’t important because “that’s not what gets people jobs.” That’s the beginning of the end of a budding entrepreneur.

Our perspective on the usefulness of the arts is limited. We don’t consider that Pixar was created when science met art. All entrepreneurs need creativity and imagination or there wouldn’t be entrepreneurs. Imagine how dull this world would be without them. Not to mention terribly behind the times. Yes Facebook and LinkedIn came from a science but it was a creative thinker that invented social media.

Think about that the next time someone tells you that you can’t draw, sing, dance or write poetry. Think about that the next time someone tells you that your business idea won’t work. What do unimaginative people know about making a living from something unorthodox? Nothing. Because a long time ago, we all stole it from them. And when these kids become adults with an entrepreneurial bent, we discourage them from letting their good ideas take them to a new level of success. Apparently we don’t just fail in school. We fail life lessons too.





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