Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Spirit of Entrepreneurism

Do you realize that when the first explorers came to North America...there were no large corporations to work for.  Sure, you may think that is common knowledge, but really...it seems like everyone forgot about that piece of history.  My Grandmother and I had a long conversation about "kids these days."  Neither one of us are impressed with the majority of them, and definitely not their parents who are shaping their foundations. 

My family has always worked hard...very hard!  My great grandparents on my mothers side were all farmers and my grandparents were farmers for awhile too.  My maternal grandfather left the family farm when my mother was young to go out and start his own business.  He was a natural born salesman and knew everything there was to know about farming equipment and so he sold farm equipment for a long time.  He was an honest business man and he did not take his friends and neighbors (who were his clients) for granted, he did not become a millionaire, but he did make a living for the family.  Later on he wanted to do something a bit more dirty and hands on, so he started an excavating company.  He was doing that up until his stroke.

My grandparents on my dad's side were farmers and my dad is still farming the same land that has been there for three generations now.  He is also self taught in wood working and had a side business for awhile and he is also a welder and if he needs to make up for a slow year in farming, he is able to do that as well.  Not to mention he has the equipment to plow out the long farm driveways in the winter when it snows.  There are a multitude of things that he is smart enough to figure out he can do.  Most people I know these days do not have that kind of common sense.

The women in my family for several generations were stay at home moms.  For whatever reason, most people now-a-days have this idea that a stay at home mom eats bon bons and watches soap operas all day.  Somehow that just never happened in our family.  My great grandmothers did it all, they made their own soap, grew huge gardens, canned the winter supply of food for the whole family, sewed the family clothes, made quilts and anything else that needed to be done to help stretch the budget as far as it would go.  All of this on top of mothering a load of children!  My mother did all the above and ran an in home daycare while home educating us. 

For myself, I tried to assimilate to a corporation...several different times.  I just cannot do it.  I have the same need that my fore bearers did...to get out there and do it myself.  I have a degree I could use for ministry and having grown up in church I know the ropes and can get a job easily if I wanted to, but I have no desire to go that route any longer either.  I am sure that there are a ton of people who are horrified by now, assuming that there is nothing in life beyond working for a corporation.  That makes me laugh when I meet those people!  They say silly things like, "What about a 401K?"  or, "What about having something steady to rely on?"  Last time I checked, neither a corporation nor a 401K is 100% reliable.  But I guess if that helps them sleep at night, they can believe it.

My goal in life is to keep our family heritage alive.  It is imperative to keep the spirit of entrepreneuism and creativity alive and well.  This is something I have passed on to my children and continue to teach them and look forward to seeing this blossom and grow in the future!  I like being able to make things and work hard and not get much sleep knowing I am contributing and in my small way keeping the American Dream alive!  Few people know what the original American Dream is anymore, they are not taught about it.  The new American Dream is to assimilate into one vein of thinking and rely on the government for everything.  No thanks.  I am just fine plodding along slowly making sure my family is as far out of reach of those clutches as possible.

If everything you know would be taken away such as your source of income, what will you do?  Do you have giftings and talents that you can turn into a back up plan?

Here comes the part where most people may have a heart attack.  I am not really thinking about my kids going to college.  Not in the traditional sense anyway.  Should they choose a career that requires a PhD such as Engineering or something in the Medical field...great!  Otherwise, I would prefer they follow their passions.  If they grow up and want to work on cars as a mechanic, a traditional four year degree will not do them any good, but an apprenticeship would.  There are many options out there that do not include going into debt the rest of your life. 

Today, most American college kids are so lost they can't even spit in the ocean without missing it, but if they would wait to go to college after they decide to "discover themselves" I have a feeling they would save a whole lot of money.  In the event that I would ever be an employer, I would choose your typical college kid last.  Every single one that I ever had the misfortune to get to know put partying and their "friends" above being responsible (even the churchy kids).  But, all of this starts with the parents...children learn by example.

I am looking forward to the future and would love for my boys to get an apprenticeship before they are done with high school.  Farming, fixing cars, landscaping, or whatever they get interested in.  I want them to be able to get a feel for what they are passionate about and the common sense to be able to live within their means with whatever they choose to do in the future.  I would rather have them happy doing what they love on $30,000 a year then miserable doing what they hate even if they had millions. 

My boys are very smart.  In fact, several people have commented that they are impressed with how they can figure things out for themselves.  This to me is just common sense.  I do not need to teach either of them every aspect of life.  Instead, I have taught them to crave knowledge, to find the answers to questions they have.  In so doing, they now figure things out for themselves.  Many children that have a spoon fed education cannot do this, there is no place for common sense in a society that sees a need for a constant umbilical cord.  I am choosing to raise independent thinkers, self-motivated men with a zest and passion for learning that will not go away their whole lives.

"Give a man a fish and you can feed him for a day.  Teach a man to fish and you can feed him for a lifetime."

Questions that my children need to answer before thinking about spending $100,000 or more on an advanced education:

  1. What am I most passionate about?
  2. Do I prefer working indoors or outdoors?
  3. Do I want someone else to dictate my hours or do I want to set my own?
  4. If this career would fail, what is my back up plan?
  5. If this career plan fails, am I willing to learn a different trade?

What are your plans and expectations for your kids?  Do you have their future mapped out for them or do you allow room for flexibility for their passions and common sense to develop?

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