Practice What You Preach: Five Childhood Lessons That Apply In Business
If you’re like me, you’ve probably pondered what you would have done differently in your youth with the hindsight that life has given you. What advice would you give the 12-year-old you?
This was exactly the question I had to consider this time last year. I was asked to share my story and leadership lessons with 6,500 12-year-old kids from hundreds of NSW primary schools at the Halogen Foundation's National Young Leaders Day in Sydney (my talk here). Twelve months later, now as a board member of this wonderful not-for-profit, I was back at the same convention listening to this year’s batch of leadership speakers inspiring this highly receptive audience. I had forgotten how confronting it is baring yourself to a group of wide-eyed kids; not to mention how their forthright questions act like a mirror to your soul.
Which got me thinking: as adults, we are so forthcoming with our advice to the next generation – the same advice we wish we could give our 12-year-old selves. But do we take a leaf out of our own book and apply it to our lives today? Here are five common childhood lessons ingrained in us by our parents – ones we in turn would probably teach kids today – that can be used by any aspiring or existing business owner:
1. Your School Days Are the Best Days of Your Life
Great advice and annoyingly true. Who hasn’t looked back at their schoolyard games or favorite teacher with fond memories, but at the time wished them away? Business owners, particularly those in the early stages, should heed this advice. The early years of your business, whilst hard, will be the times you remember the fondest. Rather than feeling down or demotivated when business challenges are thrown at you, revel in the fact that each obstacle overcome moves you one step closer to your goal. Savor the experience for the hard yards of your business journey ARE the best days of your business life.
2. The Cool Kids Won’t Be Cool in 30 Years
A little hard to believe at the time but the popular prom queen or the well-built jock all the girls swoon over aren’t likely to be leading the country, inventing penicillin or running the next hot entrepreneurial start-up. Instead, the little noticed nerds usually reign supreme. The same is true when hiring staff: don’t pick the ones with the most brilliant resumes or who have achieved the impossible at a young age. It may be that these hotshots have already hit the pinnacle of their skills and drive, or simply got a lucky break. Not to mention, they always have excessive remuneration expectations. Hire on potential and personality – not the past.
3. Be Patient! Good Things Come to Those Who Wait
Why does a year feel like an eternity when you are a kid? To state the obvious, it’s a percentage thing. A year at 12 years old is 8.3% of your life whilst at 40 it’s only 2.5% (another reason the years slip away so quickly as you age). But is patience really a virtue of a winner? Aren’t there a plethora of stories of people making millions overnight with one idea? Yes, but the usual incubation of a successful company is 7 years. Playing the long game is a better strategy than continually changing your mind when you lose patience or can’t stand waiting the appropriate time.
4. Respect Your Elders
When you grow up, you realize your parents were right. Yes, I should have cleaned my teeth, eaten my greens, not got in with the wrong crowd and appreciated piano lessons. But I didn’t, so, what’s the lesson? Those who have gone before you have wisdom to share. You just have to listen. Surround yourself with advisers that have been through what you are going through but, unlike during your childhood, realize they are probably right.
5. Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees
Looking after your pennies as a kid adds as a proportion to your adolescent wealth, but does it make sense as an adult or entrepreneur? Like parenthood, the key is not how much is saved but the pattern that is set. As the leader of your business, constant haggling and a focus on saving a few dollars is not about the immediate impact on your P&L: it is demonstrating to your staff (kids) that money has an important value and the habits developed with the dollars when they don’t count will be the same habits used to save thousands on bigger expenses when they do. This is a success strategy inherent in many of the world’s billionaires not because they are stingy but rather because they have respect for money.
I would love to hear the lessons you would share with the 12-year-old you. Are they just as relevant to you now?
From building a hugely successful business with over 1,000 employees in less than a decade, to founding a social enterprise for budding young entrepreneurs, Creel Price is a high-octane entrepreneur passionate about the power of social enterprise. Creel founded the Club Kidpreneur Foundation in 2010, a not-for profit social enterprise fostering entrepreneurship in primary-aged children. To date over 10,000 kidpreneurs have launched their first micro-enterprises across Australia and New Zealand.
Creel is also a dedicated member of the Halogen Foundation Board, helping to foster leadership in young people. Halogen partners with Club Kidpreneur to bring primary students around Australia the opportunity to put their leadership into practice through the CK Challenge.