In thinking about ways in which we can encourage children to develop their entrepreneurial side, I automatically turned to Google. I was amused by the results that came up when I typed in “entrepreneur character traits”. The first page gave me a choice of:
a) 10 character traits entrepreneurs and Einstein share
b) 6 personality traits every small business owner should have
c) 25 common characteristics of successful entrepreneurs
d) 7 characteristics of extraordinary entrepreneurs
e) The 9 personality traits of entrepreneurs
f) 3 personality traits of an entrepreneur
g) For entrepreneurs – 5 key character traits to be successful
Some of these articles aren’t really talking about character traits, they’re giving tips for running successful businesses. But there are still plenty of character traits discussed that provide interesting food for thought regarding children and entrepreneurship. In distilling the offerings of these various lists, I did some merging, deleting, and highlighting, and came up with this composite list, which you’ll notice turned out to be a new number of traits. Let’s call it ‘Robby Robin’s 8 character traits of entrepreneurs’:
- positive attitude
- willing to try new things and find new approaches to old problems
- a different definition of failure
- tolerate uncertainty
- rise above the mundane details.
Needless to say, I could write a post about each of these personality traits and their contribution to nurturing an entrepreneurial spirit, but I’ll spare you that in this post. Instead, I want to pursue how the way in which children colour may be an indication of their innate entrepreneurial strengths.
The perfectionist: A child colouring in a colouring book who becomes extremely frustrated when his skill level doesn’t match his expectations. His goal is for the colours to be realistic according to his observations and for the crayons to stay inside the lines. Easier said than done.
The creative spirit: A child colouring in a colouring book who doesn’t see the picture on the page as defining her goal but merely as a possible starting point. She colours what she thinks looks nice and is very pleased with the result. She’s ready to start a new one as soon as she’s done, or maybe just draw her own design on a blank sheet of paper.
The uncertain one: A child colouring in a colouring book who isn’t sure how to start. She asks her father what colour he thinks she should use. She asks if he likes it every step of the way. When she is done, she is glad to be done, and asks, “What should I do now?”
The blasé one: A child colouring in a colouring book who will start when he feels like it. It eventually gets done, and is pretty darn good by anyone’s standards, but clearly isn’t something the child feels very invested in. When he’s ready, he leaves the table and starts playing with his Lego, with a similar carefree approach.
Each of these kids is equally deserving of our love, support, and admiration. They are just different in how they approach their colouring and also how they approach other challenges and opportunities in life. Depending on what influencers they have throughout their childhood and schooling, each one may take many different paths. But how they manage things early in life gives some indication of their inherent strengths and weaknesses, which we all have. And if I had chosen a sports activity appropriate for young children, the profiles of the same children may (or may not) have looked very different.
Consider the traits I listed above: confidence; imagination; perseverance; positive attitude; willing to try new things and new approaches; not afraid of failure; handles uncertainty; and, more focused on the goal than the details. I’ll leave it to you to analyze which traits from above you may be able to identify in these children based on how they managed their colouring activity. Do you think that one or more (or all) of these children should be introduced to entrepreneurial activities and stories? Is one or more of these children a potential entrepreneur sometime down the road? Perhaps providing a job down the road for one or more of the other children?! Being his or her own boss. Hmm.