Monday, June 16, 2008

Why do we add sugar to the saltshaker?

I wonder if we know about the difference between determination and stubbornness. It is rather small, most of the time we use them interchangeably. Yet, there is a subtlety I want to share with you today.

I am as determined as stubborn, that is why I’ve made my dreams come true. As a typical entrepreneur I asked different questions. For example, instead of: can I do that? We think about How can I do that? Instead of will I fail? We think will I learn?

Those little differences have a big impact. Anybody can see the power of those subtleties and start a chain reaction on its own. Then nobody knows where the change come from. Most likely the starting points go unnoticed.

Let me tell you a family story. When he was 7-8 yrs old, my brother George put sugar in the saltshaker. I don’t remember how long it took us to realize that. We never questioned what was in the saltshaker, it was white, it was granular, it should have been salt. You can imagine his grin when we complained at the dinner table about the low quality of salt “they don’t make salt as they use to”… until the day that mum caught him in-fraganti (hands-on) putting the sugar in.

So you see? Sometimes little differences go unnoticed. I am interested in how those differences go along on fostering or hindering entrepreneurial mindset and action. Let’s look at society’s mixed messages: Don’t be selfish, but succeed selfishly, and then, give yourself to a ‘better cause’. You go figure it out, I can’t. No wonder it is hard to think about developing our dreams, specially our entrepreneurial dreams. We don’t have the means to do it. We keep putting salt in the salt shaker because that is what we expect to do. As one of my clients told me, “I just didn’t think about it”. And then life goes on, without exploring small differences that have a huge impact like stubbornness and determination. Those little differences help us take small steps, innovating, experimenting, learning to master few basic things.

Society expects us to move a mountain, but the best way to accomplish that is one stone at a time. Do you know how you lose weight? One milligram at a time. Same for dreams, you make your dreams one grain of salt or sugar at a time. Ok, yes, it doesn’t work for moving sofas, but you get the picture.

Most people think entrepreneurs wake up in the morning thinking about how many risks they will take that day. And there are so many closet entrepreneurs who can’t figure out how to move a mountain because they don’t see that all it takes is a change in a grain of salt or sugar. What would happen if we took action today to make a small change?

Let’s change stubbornness for determination. Both are needed to accomplish something despite difficulties. Stubbornness focuses on getting a message across and forcing a result. Determination focuses on exploring to analyse and change in order to achieve results. A determined person is inspiring; a stubborn person creates rejection. The energy and the input make them as similar as salt and sugar. Entrepreneurs find a way to achieve their goals using either one.

How do we build an entrepreneurial mindset, one grain at a time, what can you do to start contributing to the wealth of the world. What do you need to let go to move from stubbornness to determination. How can you help others. What can we do to help.

My invitation is to explore how to change stubbornness for determination, so we can take a small step. The world needs more entrepreneurs and more inventors. The world needs your creativity.

That is what we learn from putting sugar on the saltshaker.


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