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 to small business, risk is a necessary evil. No Pain, No Gain!

Question for you.

What shows up for you when I mention the words small business risk?  

Do you get that feeling of woohoo 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 start feeling uncomfortable, and you start shifting in your seat?  What goes on for you?  

Every day we are presented with obstacles, challenges, and 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 feel like, oh no, they will get hurt, and you want to say stop! Be careful! And you may find yourself doing that all the time. For kids, it’s no big deal. They fall, and they get up. As long as no one says, “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 by constantly 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 today, could that be why we are that way? That we are so over-cautious.

In business, I can tell you that no pain equals no gain.  There are a lot of books being written these days about failing forward—and that it’s okay to fail. 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, 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. So it all depends on what your definition of risk is. But the key is that if you are not stretching yourself as 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 may get hurt, but they learn so fast.  Have you ever noticed that? Having two children, my children are the ages of 4 and 6, so I’m seeing this big-time right now. They are really experimenting with a lot of different things, and yeah, once in a while, they will skin their knee, and it pains me as a parent to sit back and watch.  But I do realize that if I don’t let them try, is that the way they will 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, 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.  I’m saying to 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 it usually involves some level of risk, 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, you’re probably not going to get anything in addition to what you have now. And yes, there is an overused cliché and ridiculous statement or quote out there. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, which 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.

The first action item I want you to do is to 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.

The second action item is I want you to think through 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.

Want More On Small Business Risk?

Here’s a video I shot back in 2014 for Online Marketing Muscle on the subject. For the most part, it’s just as relevant today as it was back then. Take a peek.

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