Saturday, January 17, 2015

Why our kids need to be taught to be leaders and entrepreneurs everyone!  I would like to write a little bit about leadership, and the importance of teaching kids how to be leaders, thinkers, and entrepreneurs.  The world needs leaders, positive thinkers, and people who find a problem and instead of trying to live with it try to find a solution.  It is an unfortunate truth that so many of today's youth are not leaders; they hope to float along with the current, and when things get difficult they give up.  With that being said, I want to talk about how important it is to educate our kids that this is not the way it has to be!  Especially in the world we live in now where we can share an idea with people across the world with the click of a button!  Unfortunately kids are not being educated on how to be a leader.  We desperately NEED leaders, we need to educate an generation of problem solvers, and I want to write some words to explain why.

So, what is a leader?  Leaders come in infinite different forms, with just as many different skills and abilities.  But there are a few things that, when taught, will allow different people with different skills to become leaders, and for the sake of the future we must find a way for kids to be taught this.  I could spend hours writing about what I think makes a leader, but that is not what I am hoping to express in this post.  My wish is that by the time you finish reading this you will be inspired to become a leader, and teach others to also be leaders, and by doing this we can create a cycle of leadership development that will grow exponentially.

I believe that a few of the key things we should strive to be teaching our youth in order for them to be the exceptional leaders we need are how to be compassionate, how to have an entrepreneurial mindset, and also how to be a good follower.  I think that if people learn these things then they will take the skills they naturally have and apply them to being a leader and work on changing the world for the better. 

The first point I'd like to discuss, which is especially important when first learning how to be a leader, is being a good follower.  Leading is not about just sitting back and telling people what to do or what needs to get done, it is about lifting people up and guiding them.  Leaders get in the trenches and work with the people who they are leading, and they are an active part of what is being done.  When you are a good follower this can be done easily, if you are not able to be a follower it is difficult to do this.  Another important thing to consider is that a leader knows that they may not be the best person to lead in every situation.  Knowing how to be a follower will allow the leader to be able to work with the people they are guiding, as well as allow them to let others take the lead when the time is right.  With this they will be able to seamlessly transition between many different roles in order to be as efficient and effective as possible.

I see many people, both leaders and not, who do not know how to be a follower.  It can be clearly seen with people on sports teams, or in the workplace.  Someone who may be exceptionally skilled in their field, but they are not coachable; they don't know how to follow!  This causes many problems, because no matter how skilled the individual is, life is a team sport.  Michael Jordan said "Talent wins games; but teamwork and intelligence wins championships." I think that this means that we have to be able to work together, which often times means being a follower.  Like it or not we are all in this together, so we need to be able to be both a follower and a leader so that all of the more than 7 billion people on earth can be a cohesive team.  So to develop into the best leader possible, learn how to be a follower first, that way when the time comes that you are called up to lead you are ready!

Having the entrepreneurial mindset is the second point that I think makes the exceptional type of leader that we are looking for.  There have been many book written, videos made, and seminars taught on having an entrepreneur mindset, there is tons of information out there on how to teach people the skills that make a successful entrepreneur, but unfortunately only a small percentage of people take advantage of this materials and utilize these invaluable skills!  I think a big misconception about having the entrepreneurial mindset is that many people think that this means that they quit their stable job, start a business and work crazy hours getting their business to flourish.  Although a lot of people who have the entrepreneurial mindset do this, it is not necessary to having the mindset.  Having the mindset of an entrepreneur means that when there is a problem, or when you see something in life that you know could be better, you don't just accept it.  An entrepreneur will take this problem and find a solution; they go outside of the norms, think outside of the box and find a solution.  They have a work ethic unmatched by people who have the mindset of the "old way" and don't quit.  Failure is a learning experience, a bump in the road not a dead end.  Why are they like this?  Because they have a magical trait called PASSION!  They want things to be better, they know they can be better, and they wont stop until they are the best they can be.  It is so important for our leaders to have this mindset engrained deep in their being.  Leadership without the entrepreneur mindset often just turns dreaming; wishing for something without the follow through to back it up. 

Another invaluable trait that we need to foster in our future leaders is compassion towards others.  This is something that is too often not taught when teaching people to succeed, we stress the importance of excelling at any cost and too often what happens is we do not cultivate compassion for our fellow beings.  It is my opinion that without having compassion any level of leadership is empty, because leadership that isn't driven by the objective of improving the greater good is a waste of time.  In order to develop the type of leaders we need for there to be a bright future ahead, compassion needs to be right up there with the other leadership traits that we instill in them.  Compassion means the desire to alleviate others' suffering.  Wouldn't you agree that with a generation of leaders who wish to help those in need we could make huge strides in the advancement of mankind?  I strongly feel that compassion should be at the core of any teaching, especially those taught to kids, but it is especially critical for leaders to learn compassion because they are going to be the ones who guide us to our future.  Leadership, like any skill, can be used in negative ways just as easily as it can be used positivity, and because of this it is necessary to educate leaders on the importance of compassion to guide their leadership skill in a positive direction.

Leadership of the future requires people who know how to be a good follower, who utilize an entrepreneurial mindset and are driven by compassion.  Schools don't teach these skills in common core curriculum, but I feel that we must be teaching these traits to our youth.  We have to start making leadership education an integrated part of our youth's upbringing, and the sooner people are taught these skills the better.  Kids are amazing with their ability to learn these traits; they come naturally to kids, and it is absolutely amazing what young leaders are able to do with proper leadership training.  It is one of the most inspirational and motivational experiences when I see kids who use leadership this way.  The difference they make is astounding.

I am a martial artist, and I feel that martial arts is a great way to instill all of these qualities in our young people.  In martial arts the students are trained and required to be good followers first.  They must excel in the art of following and being guided, while at the same time they are expected to lead their junior ranks along the martial path.  Martial arts also instills in its practitioners the entrepreneurial mindset, the ability to think quickly and make decisions in a split second.  Learning to have a fighters heart is learning to think like an entrepreneur.  There is a problem and you must solve it.  Along with learning self defense in martial arts, the students are also taught compassion.  They learn to use control in order to not hurt people needlessly, they learn to serve their community and to always be seeking an opportunity to help people.  All of these are reasons why martial artists are great leaders, and we should utilize this knowledge to bring this same level of leadership training into other activities.  Take a moment and imagine what it would be like if the next generation of doctors, lawyers, engineers, athletes, teachers and CEO's were leaders who made it their goal to lead the world in a positive direction.  Now take that mental imagine and imagine 5, 10, 15 generations from now.  What type of world will it be!?!