Many of you have absolutely no idea who I am, and that’s okay. In fact, it makes me all the more excited and appreciative of you taking the time to read my posts. In my articles, I like to give you a bit of information about me and my personal journey, as well as allow my personality to shine through my words with the hope that you will connect with what’s being discussed. This article is no different, and I’d like to start off with giving you a little tid-bit about my Mista (my husband). Don’t worry, we’re still very much talking about #RaisingBlackMillionaires.
My husband (a.k.a. The Man Of All Of My Dreams) is a school teacher who specializes in teaching children who have been labeled as having “Special Needs.” Additionally, he works mentorship programs throughout the year, and he’s explained to me countless times that while many of his students/mentees may have been labeled as having learning disorders or perform below grade level, they’re very intelligent but often are not confident in their own abilities. They’ve bought into the stigma of being handicapped or less than what has been deemed as the standard; and this is really the greater handicap, not the low academic performance. He says that a lot of them could actually do the work, if they believed they could. So the issue becomes more so about self-confidence versus mental capacity. It reminds me of how Les Brown says that he was labeled as Educable Mentally Retarded as a child. From where I stand, he seems to be doing quite well.
Now there are so many points I need to highlight from this point and a Ted Talk that was done by CEO & Business Coach Cameron Herold, that I’m going to have to reference them both for the next two or so articles. If you’d like to watch the Ted Talk, here’s the link https://www.ted.com/talks/cameron_herold_let_s_raise_kids_to_be_entrepreneurs?language=en . For this particular article, we need to focus on the part about the self-confidence of students. If we were a group of teachers in this forum, I’d place more emphasis on the methods my husband uses to improve his students’ success rates. But since we’re primarily parents, I’ll focus there, for now.
Cameron Herold over-emphasized the fact that he and most other uber-successful entrepreneurs he knows performed very poorly in school. In fact, he started off the Talk saying that he was sure that he was the least intelligent person in the room. He also mentioned that he has what’s considered a severe learning disorder _18 of the 19 signs of ADD_ but for the sake of time, we’ll discuss that part in Thursday’s article. Nonetheless, Mr. Cameron, like my husband’s students and many of our children (especially young boys), performed well below grade level throughout every part of his academic career, well through college where he attended the only college that would accept him.
What’s important to note here is his parents’ response to his poor academic performance. He said that they had two responses that struck him; one was far more significant to his success than the other. He noted that when he was in second grade, he won a state-wide speaking contest, but no one ever encouraged him to pursue speaking or enroll him in speaking clubs or lessons. Instead, his mother got him a tutor to help him with his academics…Response #1. The question he raised was why do we spend so much time highlighting our children’s weaknesses versus celebrating and nurturing their strengths?
Mr. Herold’s father recognized that he and his two siblings really didn’t fit in anywhere (not with other students, in sports clubs, extracurricular activity groups,…nowhere); so, he decided that they would likely have a difficult time fitting into groups as adults, as well. The result was that he groomed his children to HATE the idea of working for someone else. . . . . . I just want to let that sink in for a moment; so, I’ll wait. . . . . . Why would he do that? Because he was wise enough to recognize these traits that his children exemplified as entrepreneurial.
This is soooo big. I really need you to hold my hand; walk with me; talk with me.
Entrepreneurs are not like everyone else. We just aren’t. Entrepreneurs are the ones who think completely differently than the majority. We often stand out, and if we’re given the tools to be confident and unapologetic about who we are, we’ll soar in ways and areas that most people never ever ever even consider. But far too often, we don’t gain the confidence and perspective to embrace our differentness until or unless we go off into environments where other like-minds are present; or we create something (a product or service) that people marvel at and praise us for, and usher in broader acceptance that way (i.e. Steve Jobs). What Herold’s father did was instead of trying to force his children to change or work to develop them into people they weren’t naturally for the sake of meeting a societally established standard, he trained them to observe their environments and identify areas of lack then figure out ways to fill those areas of lack with goods or services.
In other words, his father knew that his children’s traits and poor academic (and athletic, …etc.) performances would likely label them as socially awkward and make securing gainful employment and overall acceptance very difficult _if not impossible_ once they became adults. To prevent that type of stigma from damaging their self-images and esteems, he trained them to be resourceful and create their own incomes, finding value in their own thought processes and senses of creativity. Instead of fitting them into “The Box,” he reared them to design their own boxes in which others would apply to fit later on (i.e. their own companies).
This was important, because _as Herold stated_ entrepreneurs are these people who have these intense passions that are usually fueled by a need we see in the world, and we fearlessly put everything on the line to stand up and exercise those passions, working towards fulfilling those needs; even when that means we’ll be the odd-ball or the minority in our families or circles. So when we have children who appear to not fit in, perhaps we should take a page from Cameron Herold’s father’s book and seek out those misfit traits; help them find something they enjoy; and capitalize off their differences versus spending a lot of time highlighting or trying to change them.
In the next article, we’ll discuss an example of how Herold’s father did this with him and his siblings, as well as the promise that having a child who is Bi-Polar could bring in this journey of #RaisingBlackMillionaires. Until then, be fruitful.