“Whoever coined the term ‘terrible-twos’ quite obviously hadn’t had a three-year old yet”
I don’t know who said it… but they were definitely right. What I love though is that I don’t think my daughter is going through a phase or a stage. I think the situation is that she is remarkable every day and it’s only recently that she has been able to articulate herself and exert her personality that it is becoming more obvious. I’m her dad, so I might be a bit biased but as her father, I think I’m in for one hell of a ride.
If you study the known traits of successful business people and entrepreneurs and people that have generally changed the world (a good book to read if you haven’t is Jack Delosa’s ‘Unwritten’) there are a few characteristics that are ubiquitous and I can see them all in Charlotte.
Wow…. Where do I start with this one? As any parent of any toddler knows, the determination that exists in our kids is iron clad. Just once, I want to send Charlotte into a board meeting to negotiate a deal… just for shits and giggles and because I like seeing grown men in suits cry. She is not an obstinate irrational toddler as many bloggers describe, but she knows exactly what she wants and slowly but surely makes her way there, all the while letting me have little wins along the way. The secret to her success is that she never ever loses sight of what her goal is, and she always ‘stays at the table’ to ensure that negotiations continue.
An example of this is recently when I was about to start making breakfast, she wanted yogurt but I was going to make her some porridge. Instead of a tantrum, she got to eat a little bit of yogurt while I made the porridge because it was going to take ‘sooooo loooong’ until the porridge was ready. It was a classic win-win… she got her yogurt, and I got to serve her some healthy porridge which she ate.
As a parent, my most daunting task is to prepare my kids for careers that don’t yet exist. If you have children or if you plan on having them, you need to watch every TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson. Watch them all, in chronological order. Creativity and adaptability are the biggest gift that we can give our children…. To be truly honest, it’s not a gift that we give…. Creativity and adaptability are gifts that we allow our children to keep. They start with it and if we aren’t careful, the world will squash it out of them. In Ken’s 2006 presentation he talks about a little girl drawing God, and the teacher told her that no-one knows what God looks like. “They will in a minute” was the priceless reply.
Confidence can be a learned skill but some people start with it. Charlotte is one of those fortunate ones that have started with it. I recently dropped her off at child care for the first time and was worried about how she would feel about it because she was new to it and she was starting mid-way through the year. When we walked in, there was a number of children already there playing various games and at the sight of ‘the new girl’ they soon crowded around her. Without missing a beat, she strode over to the table with the activity that she wanted to do and proceeded to tell the other kids that they could play with her if they wanted to.
What I love about this, aside from her total control of her own environment, was that she wasn’t bound by OPR’s. Other People’s Rules. She Didn’t allow what everyone else was doing to influence what she wanted to do, but she was still respectful of others. She didn’t make them play with her, but she played her game and was happy for anyone else to join her.
She Craves Learning
I’m not going to spend too much time on this one. If you have or have cared for a toddler, you will know all too well that their ability to ask questions is unparalleled. They are only just starting to make sense of their world and they need to know everything about it. They are a blank canvas and at three they are coloring themselves in furiously and what’s more, they have no preconceived ideas. Successful entrepreneurs have a gift for asking questions… challenging the status quo from new perspectives with a genuine ‘why not’ attitude devoid of the boundaries imposed by ‘how things have always been done’ because they don’t know how things have always been done.
Prepared to take risk.
The thing that I admire most about my little girl is that she is not afraid to be wrong. In my mind, this is the most important and valuable commodity that an entrepreneur can have and as a parent, preserving the right to feel safe when wrong is the most valuable gift that you can give your children. As a three-year-old she is prepared to take risks… be it on her scooter or bike, but also on her decisions. She has a pure decision making process and if I’m not careful, I could destroy her preparedness to take risk by downloading all of my parently wisdom (or lack thereof) on her by forgetting to let her learn and to help her assess the results of her decisions constructively.
Whether you are talking about Elon Musk or Richard Branson who are changing the world, or just the next kid to change our lives with a simple app or innovation that the world was waiting for, some things are common among people who live purposeful lives. Three-year-olds are the perfect entrepreneurs and our job as parents is to protect their individuality, creativity and confidence so that they can innovate, challenge and change the world.