What can a child teach you about business? As part of our “Business Lessons From Children” video series, I discuss the concept of small business risk; drawing parallels to the innate wisdom of children and their “no fear” approach to learning by failing forward.

When it comes small business, risk is a necessary evil. No Pain = No Gain!

Question for you!  When I mention the word risk, what happens for you?  Do you get that feeling of woo hoo and exhilaration and excitement and you’re ready to attack and go for it?  Or on the flip side do you feel that pit in your stomach, that nervousness that creeps in and you really start feeling uncomfortable and you start shifting in your seat?  What goes on for you?  

Every day we are presented with obstacles, challenges, opportunities and you can learn a lot by just watching children and how they go about whatever they are doing during the course of the day.  And what I mean is watch a child play. 

If you have children, and I have two, let your children outside and just watch them for a few minutes. Watch how they will climb things, they’ll jump off of things. In your stomach you are feeling like oh no they are going to get hurt and you want to say stop! Be careful! And you may find yourself doing that all the time. For kids, it’s not big deal. They fall down, they get up. As long as no one is saying “oh you poor baby” they are usually alright with it. They get right up and brush themselves off and they are back to jumping off something else or doing something else that we may think is a little nutty.  

Think about number one, all of that potential bad programming that we’re putting into our kids brains in terms of always saying to them be careful! Or watch yourself! Or don’t do that! That sets a pattern of just being over cautious.  And we ask ourselves now today could that be why we are that way? That we are so over cautious.

Now in business, I can clearly tell you no pain equals no gain.  There’s a lot of books being written about these days too about failing forward and that’s its okay to fail.  Those kinds of concepts. And I get that and agree with them to a large degree. The key is that a lot of this is trial and error. You have to try it on and stick your neck out and see how does this work? 

Now risk could be of varying degrees. It could be something that may not be so risky for you, like let’s say hiring someone or it could be something extremely risky for you like let’s say investing six figures into something.  It depends on what your definition of risk is for you. But the key is that if you are not stretching yourself like a child would you are risking the opportunity to learn. A child takes risks like crazy in most cases, and yes they skin their knee and they may get hurt but they learn so fast.  You ever notice that? Having two children, right now my children are at the ages of 4 and 6 so I’m seeing this big time right now. Where they are really experimenting with a lot of different things. And yeah, once in a while they are going to skin their knee and it pains me as a parent to sit back and watch.  But I do realize that concept that if I don’t let them try is that the way they are going to carry out the rest of their lives? 

Now I’m not sitting here claiming to be some psychotherapist or psychoanalyst or anything like that. I’m just a parent and I’m a business owner and I watch and observe things. I study people and I study their behavior and you really can learn a ton from children.  

The idea here is don’t be afraid to risk.  Yes, take calculated risks. I’m not saying go out there and do something really stupid right now.  What I’m saying is think about what you can do today to stretch a little bit. We all say we want this, or I want to earn this much more in my business. I want this many more clients. But are you really willing to do what it takes because what it takes usually involves some level of risk and typically the higher the risk, the higher the potential for reward.  There’s no guarantee between risk and reward. However, I can tell you that if you risk nothing ever, chances are you’re probably not going to get anything in addition to what you have now. And yes there is an overused cliche and ridiculous statement or quote out there. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and you’re expecting a different result kind of in a sense plays into this.  If you want something different you’ve got to be willing to be more, do more to have more. It takes some level of risk.

First action item I want you to do is get out there and watch some children play and look at the risks they take when they are playing.  There isn’t even a glimmer of fear in their eyes at all. They just do. Second action item is I want you to think through about the last three risks you took in your business and what was the impact or the outcome of each one of those three risks.  I’d love to hear what you come up with.

Business lessons are all around us. They are everywhere! We just have to be open to seeing them.

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