Signs and labels are helpful. “STOP” “Bridge Out Ahead” “YIELD” “ONE WAY” “POISON”. “Wash by hand in warm water”. “Microwave is not to be used for drying pets”. “Do not iron clothes on body”, etc… One does not have to think too deeply about the meaning or message to understand what or what not to do. And in most cases we are able to respond with ease and almost subconsciously to make it through life without crashing into a ravine or cooking Fluffy. These signs not only guide us but are there to protect us and our fellow citizens (and pets).
Signs and labels are great for those universal regulations around health and safety and care for our dainties, but when it comes to what directs all those little decisions and grand life choices we come to encounter, it’s not so cut and dry. And so we rely on traditions, intrinsic values, morals and just common sense. There are some labels and signs that we “see” and “hear” which are much more subtle. Some of these cultural labels and principles have, I believe, caused us much harm.
According to a new research study, the most selfish generation may just be the Millennials. Data on life goals showed a shift away from those related to intrinsic values — such as developing a meaningful philosophy of life — and toward more extrinsic ones, such as being well-off financially — over the three generations.
"Compared to boomers, millennials and Gen Xers viewed goals concerned with money, fame and image as more important, and goals concerned with self-acceptance, affiliation, and community as less important,"
We all have seen how these cultural labels and world views have effected our generation and businesses. We have been lulled into a trance over years to blindly follow these signs or believe the labels. I’d like to share 3 “signs” we need NOT to obey and labels we should fight to reject. And these are battles we need to fight. I will preface to say I’ve struggled with all three to some degree.
Battle No.1 “Don’t rock the boat”
This sign says, “Be normal”, “Keep to the status quo” vs. being innovative and use your imagination. Not to get into another education rant, but much of our academic systems, in order to prepare us for society, have to teach normalcy. Radical thinking, can lead to many unknowns. Unknowns can be scary and dangerous.
This type of control stems from fear of losing control. It’s up to us as leaders, teachers, pastors and politicians to loosen our grip on what we think is fundamental to our society’s success. As entrepreneurs we know how important risk and thinking big is. Those of us who embrace change, resist the urge to give in to our fear of failure, knowing that sometimes failure often is the only path to true success.
It’s time to take risks and teach our kids to see failure as a pivot point rather than a wall. Everyday, in our homes, schools and businesses, it’s time to be creative, be unique, and to make a difference.
Winning Strategy: Be IMAGINATIVE – think big
Battle No. 2 “Trust No One”
This sign says “do it alone” vs. surround yourself with a team. Some of the best advice I was ever given came out of a sermon I heard long ago. Why was King David so successful? The simple answer was he surrounded himself with the best.
All the great inventions, movements and businesses in the world were led by a team. This is one of many reasons why we think The Creative Space (Barrie’s coworking community) is so crucial to our city’s sustainability and success. We reject the fear and posturing around competition and embrace and encourage collaboration.
We share ideas as they come, during the process and celebrate their fruition together. We’ve encountered entrepreneurs who come up with many ideas, but never include others until they’ve seemingly done all the work. When we try and be jack of all trades in order to control every part of the project or business, we miss out on unique ideas and opportunities which could make what we see a much better vision. The best stuff in the world is created in community.
Winning strategy: Be A TEAM – do life together
Battle No. 3 “Popularity is where it’s at”
This sign says to “Be famous” vs “Be great”. So much of our media tells us that fame is the ultimate life prize. In our day where popularity is more desired than greatness and doing the hard thing is avoided, we are seeing a generation who feel pressured into the limelight. We must fight fame and pursue greatness.
Greatness in life and business means leaving behind a legacy of good. There is nothing wrong with being famous. But we need to be better known for who we are than what we do. If your legacy is all about your talents and skills, you’re influence is limited.
If you work hard and give back, you leave behind so much more, and that residue of greatness lingers sometimes for all time. Are you, as an entrepreneur, trying to make a name for yourself, or hoping to make our community, nation and world a better place? Those who pursue the latter are great, no matter how many or few “likes” they have on MyFace, (I mean, Facebook).