I am finding that the more I am exposed to the realm of Entrepreneurship, the more I realize that no one really knows what they are doing, me included. I don’t claim to know it all, and I don’t even think I know much of anything, except this one thing: picking up a piece of trash off the sidewalk says a lot about a man and the character he obtains.
I realize that the past few sentences may not make much sense, but think about it - picking up the trash has a lot to do with who you are. You see, each day I wake up I start an internal battle with self. I crack open my Bible because I believe that whatever I put into who I am will find its way back out. I am inherently selfish, all of us are to some degree or another. Whatever we put in, what ever we listen to, whoever we talk to, and where we walk and spend our time: these factors put pressure on our character to either build it up to integrity or smash it down into destruction.
Entrepreneurship for me is meeting a lot of people and asking questions. I deliberately ask questions at times that are super difficult muster, not because they are fundamentally difficult to articulate, but rather because they show my true ignorance in a particular area.
Yesterday I met with Dawson Wheeler, one of the great men responsible for growing RockCreek, an outdoor retailer based in Chattanooga, TN, to what is is today. Because of a successful exit some time ago he is no longer involved. While talking with Dawson I realized that three to four times per minute he would use jargon and terms that absolutely flew over my head. Let that sink in. I have been in the outdoor and manufacturing space for about four years now and still, I have a knowledge base that could only fill up a 5mb thumb-drive. BUT it absolutely doesn’t matter! I was able, through much practice, to ask “ignorant” questions and be humble so that 1) I could keep my own pride in check and 2) so I could learn something. I think learning has just as much to do with the learner as it does the teacher. In fact, it may even be closer to a 70 and 30 split, with the learner carrying more responsibility. When a teacher is explaining some principle or concept, they have an idea of what they think you might be thinking and how you should apply it to your life – this can be problematic. It is the responsibility of the learner to take the information they have been given and apply it to their own unique set of circumstances - critical thinking is indeed CRITICAL!
Imagine this: You are listening to a radio show. After a while, you begin to imagine what the host looks like, right? Then, all of a sudden, you see what they really look like. Most of the time, our minds draw a vastly different picture from reality. The same is true with learning. When we listen to the “teacher” or “mentor” we begin to draw pictures, and those pictures aren’t bad. I say this to encourage you because if your “mental picture” doesn’t match someone else's, especially the teacher, that is a good thing! It means you are discovering the world and making sense of it in your own way.
Anyways, that is the thought for my week. I am constantly meeting new people with various levels of experience and I wouldn’t have it any other way. When people told me about Chinese manufacturing, I drew a picture in my mind and once I was met with the reality of what it was actually like, the two pictures merged into one. This is the way we are, so don’t fight it. Build your character, be humble, ask "ignorant" questions, and draw your own conclusions.
Also, last thing before I go. I’ve recently had the awesome pleasure of getting to know a man by the name of Stephen Meeks. He is a real genuine man and I have grown very fond of him as a mentor and leader. He is currently starting a company called Manabouts. Stephen believes that being a man is far more than being a male. I couldn’t agree more in that manhood is a matter of the heart and great discipline. Manabouts has a mission to guide fathers and mentors in leading boys into true manhood. To do this, Manabouts created an unforgettable experience and awesome field guide that aims to lead you and your son along a journey that you cannot easily forget. In the busyness of todays world it can be hard to find meaningful time with your family, let alone sons. Stephens Manabout course helps fathers and mentors create a life changing experience that ushers boys into manhood.
Founder of SWAYY