“Education is our greatest opportunity to give an irrevocable gift to the next generation.” – Ernie Fletcher
Teaching our children is our most important we work we do in life. When my children were young I was focused on teaching them good values and morals. Then as they grew older I focused on teaching them the value of hard work and having a good work ethic and goals. Now that they are adults I am realizing that I need to focus my teaching efforts on how to become self-reliant in business. It’s funny because I teach entrepreneurship at universities on a regular basis and I love doing it. But somehow when it’s time to teach my own children it becomes a much harder endeavor. Maybe it’s because my children see me as Mom rather than as Amy the Entrepreneur/CEO so I have to find ways to get them to see me in a serious business light rather than having them see me as “just Mom”.
My son Dalton started his first day working for our foundation today, the IPOP Foundation (www.ipop.org ). It’s exciting to train him on the different facets of business, but it’s also more challenging because he thinks of me as Mom and in that setting I need him to see me as a businessperson. I want so much to teach him everything that I learned over the years as an Entrepreneur because I want him to be able to learn from my mistakes and benefit from my experiences. Teaching him all of that is going to take time and I am going to have to be patient, which is not my strongest suite. But passing on my knowledge to my children is that irrevocable gift I can give them and I know it is the most important thing I can do for them now.
A few thoughts I have on things in business we should teach our children are:
Tell your kids where you came from – share your business story of how you decided what to go into, what ideas you had, what mistakes and failures you had along the way. Don’t let your kids think you were successful and brilliant from the get-go, because that just isn’t true. Let them know how you stumbled along the way so they realize that what you achieved isn’t unreachable for them.
Explain to your kids the different types of careers that are out there and what the day to day of those careers will look like. So many of our kids today have no idea what careers exist in each field. If you ask a child if they want to go into marketing they would have idea about the actual jobs that exist within the field of marketing, such as graphic artist, copywriter, editor, creative director, etc. Explain real world jobs to them so the kids can gain an understanding of what options exist out there.
Find ways to give your kids hands on experience. The more they can do a task firsthand the more they can determine if they are good at it and if it something they want to pursue. Just reading about or hearing about jobs doesn’t give them a true idea if it is something they are interested in.
Most important, set the example of hard work by your own behavior.
“Don’t worry that children never listen to you. Worry that they are always watching you.” –Robert Fulghum
Kids watch us more than we realize so make sure that what they are seeing is a reflection of something you are proud to pass on to them.