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Mastering an Entrepreneurial Toddler Mentality… and Why That’s a Good Thing!

Baby mit LaptopAs entrepreneurs we get in the game because we feel we can offer something (a service, a product, something!) of value. We feel we can serve in a better fashion running our own show than in a corporate environment. We feel we are fulfilling a need in the world.

While the motivations above are a good start to entrepreneurship, they are quite vague. Think about them – we want to offer something that we know is inside us. We want to be of value. We want to run our own show. We want to fulfil some need.

Side story (but trust me, it’ll make sense soon!). I was visiting a friend and I was having a lovely conversation with her son… who is 3. The conversation started off very topical and somewhat surface. After all, he is 3! And then the quintessential toddler word started coming… non-stop!

Why.

At first I laughed, and then it wasn’t long before I was working to keep up with all the Why’s. And it got me to thinking…

It is not enough to want to offer something, or to fulfil some need. In order to bring true value to others we need to know specifically what we are bringing to the table. And not only what, but why. The saying “the devil is in the details” is quite fitting. These details will drive the products we develop, the services we offer, the mechanisms we employ in marketing and strategy, the business options we explore, the potential partners we engage, and shape the constituency of our business.

This is Where The Toddler Mentality Can Help!

It is essential to dig deep into the reasons and inspirations that drive the entrepreneurial spirit because, as the cliché says: it’s harder than it looks!

Entrepreneurship does not excuse us from the realities of business. And often, it increases these responsibilities as we are the only resource available to do them. We not only wear many hats, we wear all the hats – especially when first starting out.

It is often the more esoteric ideals that appeal to us when we are considering starting our own company. But we cannot avoid the required elements of running a business. Items such as writing a thorough business plan, creating a dynamic marketing plan, developing financial estimates and forecasts, creating a website, logo and branding, developing a growth strategy, etc. will require attention. Ignore them at your own peril and the peril of your entrepreneurial dream. We need to stay in the game when the tactical side of running a company may get tiring. The one thing that will keep you going is your Why.

It is imperative that we understand our why(s) of becoming entrepreneurs. Alas, just wanting to do something different is not enough of a why to keep the machine going. If your why does not excite you at the very thought of it, if it does not cause you to smile without realizing it and spark inspiration, chances are that you will quit when the drudges of running a business start to wear on you.

But HOW Does a Toddler Mentality Help?

Often the decision to become an entrepreneur is a result of having an innate calling that is driving us to start a business. Now to dig down into the weeds, to get to the good stuff, let’s think like a toddler.

I want to be an entrepreneur. Why? I want to work for myself. Why? I have felt stifled working in a corporate setting. Why? I am not fully realizing my potential in that setting. Why? I have a passion and realize that it is my life purpose to bring this entrepreneurial endeavor alive. Why? I want to help people. Why? So I can bring value to my audience in a way that only I can do it. Why? Because I offer a perspective that can be of assistance to others that is distinctive and has produced results in my niche through my past experience. Oh, now we are seeing a much better why!

Each of us has our own filter. We see the world, others, problems, and solutions through our unique lens. Dialling in to the distinctive perspective we offer is a great why in becoming an entrepreneur. We are identifying what sets us apart. We are no longer looking at the surface, but elaborating on details that will distinguish us in the marketplace and shape what we do and how we do it.

While this toddler mentality may seem too simple, it is surprisingly effective. Which is a better why: I want to be an entrepreneur or I offer a perspective that can be of assistance to others that is distinctive and has produced results in my niche through my past experience?

Now that we see how the entrepreneurial toddler mentality can help in figuring out our why, let’s look at a what.

This returns us to the esoteric side again as starting point. Most entrepreneurs I have spoken with started their business because they had an idea they wanted to bring into reality. There is a book, or program, or coaching, or business consulting, or a specific service, or a gadget in their mind. Again, unfortunately, this ideal is not detailed enough to provide lasting motivation to drive the business forward and past the doldrums of everyday business tasks.

I want to provide a coaching service. Why? I have knowledge I have gained I could share. Why? I have struggled in the past. Why? Because I didn’t have the knowledge to lessen my struggle and I’d like to serve others so they might not struggle as much as I did. Now that’s a great why!

What is the better why: I want to provide coaching or and I’d like to serve others through sharing my knowledge so they might not struggle as much as I did. This why will become the driver that will keep you engaged in the business. It will serve as the platform to keep the doors open, the lights on and build the runway to launch more ideas.

Let’s Continue Our Journey

We have explored our why, we have explored a what, and now let’s explore the who.

I want to help people. Why? I want to share my experiences. Why? I want to be an inspiration to people. Why? I want to assist in their struggle. Why? I want to help people through a tough time. Why? I want to demonstrate that you can make it through a tough time and survive, and I can help you through the steps I used to heal.

What is the better why: I want to help people or I want to be an inspiration to help people through tough times and demonstrate how they can come out the other side?

One thing that must be mentioned is that as with any development process, iteration is key. While the exact ideal may not be complete on the first go around, it is a step closer. Then once the iteration of Why is conducted again, a clearer picture will evolve. And as you learn more, the iterations will integrate more and more details creating a richer and more concise image to bring returns to your business and fulfilment to your entrepreneurial spirit.

While answering every toddler’s why may get annoying, you cannot deny the fascination of their curiosity. Their ability to dive deeper and deeper to add to their knowledge base can be inspiring. Their uncanny exploration into digging for more and more details until they are satisfied with the answers and information before them can be motivating. Capture this wide-eyed curiosity and maximize it to drive your business initiatives forward, produce fantastic service for your audience, keep your head in the game, and create lasting success.

Remember, the devil is in the details!

About A. Lynn Jesus

A. Lynn Jesus, CEO and Purpose Expert with Thriveology, is dedicated to helping people discover their purpose and live life on their terms. Are you ready to get started? Get her FREE guidebook 5 Steps to Begin Defining Your Journey.

35 comments

  1. Lorii Abela says:

    Great post! Indeed, one of the ways to learn is by asking. How has your business benefited from the toddler mentality so far?

    1. A. Lynn Jesus ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Thank you Lorii! As the saying goes, if you don’t ask the answer is always no! Using the toddler mentality has been so beneficial as it opened the pathway to really become concrete in my goals and my “Why”. I use it as a tool to strip the higher level answers away to reveal a deeper more succinct level.

  2. Sharon O'Day says:

    The repetitive why-why-why questioning is one of the strategies used to get at your purpose, your ISP, in short, so many elements that require focused digging to get past your first “head-based” reasons down to the genuine reasons. Always interesting results!

  3. Don Purdum says:

    Great word picture Lynn that is forcing me to sit back and think a little less. The “why” is really not hard, it’s just easier to make it hard so we have excuses to fall back on. Thanks for the great post!!!!

    1. A. Lynn Jesus ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Great point Don! Adults often LOVE to have a “Plan B” which translates into if this is too hard I’ll do that other thing. And you are right – the safety net becomes the excuse!

  4. Roslyn says:

    Why applies to everything. Why am I posting this? Why post to here and not to there. I was only able to stick to a weight loss plan because I finally found my WHY. It guides me every day. Love seeing the world thru the eyes of children. Unfiltered, uncensored, open to the miracles of life.

    1. A. Lynn Jesus ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      So true Roslyn. If only adults were a little more unfiltered there would be less “I couldn’t possibly’s” and a lot more “Why not’s”! Seeing children’s limitless belief in what they can do is inspiring!

    1. A. Lynn Jesus ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Thank you Jessica. We often forget to stop and figure out why – we just get in the habit of blindly doing. Then we wonder why things don’t turn out as we thought, or we lose steam in pursuing something.

    1. A. Lynn Jesus ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Thank you Alexandra. I was in a play (adapted from a book) called Everything I Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten. It is amazingly accurate! We can learn a lot from children.

  5. Just to add a humorous story…when my oldest was about three, I started wondering why she never asked, “Why?” since that is pretty much standard for the age. Then I realized that she constantly asked, “How come?” Her version of why. It still makes me smile to think of it.

  6. Irwin says:

    So often I hear and feel myself repeating the ideology that being a startup does not excuse laziness or sloppiness. Even though teams may be small, even though the budget may be tight — if something is wrong and you know it needs fixing, SPEAK UP.

    Also, saying that successfully doing this requires TONS of time is an understatement. This is why the “toddler mentality”, or understanding purpose to the nth degree is so important. You will spend more time, more energy, and more effort with your business than you will with anything else. So you’d better be sure you love it, and it’s something you believe in!

    1. A. Lynn Jesus ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Love that sentiment Irwin: You will spend more time, more energy, and more effort with your business than you will with anything else. So you’d better be sure you love it, and it’s something you believe in!

      It is SO true! Knowing the why will also help when the need to tweak things comes up. The why helps keep you on track.

  7. Vicky says:

    Wonderful post! And yes you are right motivation is really important for entrepreneurship which make consistent.

    Worth saving the page!

    Thanks

    1. A. Lynn Jesus ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Thank you Vicky! Motivation can be difficult especially when you wear ALL the hats of your business. So knowing the why will help keep you motivated and charging forward!

  8. Marie Ambrosia says:

    I’ve always said my children have taught me so much about myself and life – Thanks for the post

  9. Martin says:

    That is a great insight Lynn. We so often over-complicate our thinking and strategising without first asking ourselves the fundamental question “Why?”. I suppose toddlers don’t come to the table with the same baggage of expectation or fixed ideas about what the answers should be when they ask the obvious questions which adults tend to think they know the answers to. Often the obvious answer appears to be “Because that is the way things are” which of course blocks whole avenues of creativity and rearely would satisfy a toddlers quest for knowledge.
    We sometimes have a fear of asking ourselves too many “why” questions. It can be difficult to satisfy ourselves with the answer, perhaps even come to the realisation that we don’t acutally know why we want to do soemthing.
    This is a great reminder that it is much better to approach a project with more and better questions than answers and be brave enough to ask them of ourselves.

    1. A. Lynn Jesus ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Thank you Martin! To really get to the why it requires us to be honest with ourselves. That is not always easy! And I agree, it’s because we have accepted conditioning post-toddler years of what we SHOULD do. Often our why takes us outside the conventional box. Looking through the toddler lens can lead us outside of the accepted “should” and takes us to what we could do!

  10. Amandah says:

    Great post! i copied and pasted it into my Evernote.

    As I was reading this, I flash-backed to a Millionaire Mind Intensive I attended in 2009. I remember T. Harv Eker stressing that you have to know the “why” of what it is that you want to do. Once you figure out your “why,” the rest will come together.

    1. A. Lynn Jesus ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Thank you Amandah! Agreed, if you don’t know the why the necessary resolve tends to dissolve at the first sign of hardship. It’s the why that keeps the fire burning! And it helps to develop the faith that the necessary things will come into view.

  11. David Eberhart says:

    GREAT take on the toddler’s “why” and how that applies to life as an entrepreneur! What I would add to that is the wonder and faith of a toddler.

    Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.”

    A toddler looks at everything and marvels. A toddler–when told by an adult that something will happen–doesn’t question whether it will happen or not.

    An entrepreneur benefits greatly from the ability to look at things with new eyes and the faith that they can achieve.

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