You’re a leader—I don’t need to tell you to cultivate an entrepreneurial spirit in yourself, you already know it. You know that steering your way through the course of your career starts with getting a grip on the wheel and looking ahead to where you’d like to go. You never say, for example, “I’m in a dead-end job.”  You are way too creative to think that way. You have an innovative spirit, and as it relates to your work, business, or profession, an “entrepreneurial spirit.” 

How can we leaders and influencers encourage and foster that in others?      

First, you have to care. Can you get behind caring about others at a deep level, such that your intention is to affect them profoundly? If you inspire someone to tap into their innate creativity (especially in order to solve tricky problems), you have affected them profoundly, believe me.

College professor John McCarthy teaches students how to listen to their fleeting thoughts, to literally exercise their brains, and to become extraordinary at problem-solving using ordinary means. As one of the editors of his book,
The Innovator Next Door: 50 Stories of Creative Inspiration to Spark New In-the-Box Thinking, I had the opportunity to really study and absorb his message. Like John, each of us can empower others to access and leverage their creativity.  

This article isn’t about why most people do not embrace their own innovative capabilities—you know those who choose to play a small game, avoid risks, blame others, and resign themselves to what is tolerable.  Remember, that is a choice. But let’s look at why one would not want to settle for defeatism

Benefits of living an entrepreneurial spirit

  • Your brain starts to see windows where others see closed doors
  • It feels great to have one strong “Ah-ha!” moment– you could have these every day
  • People recognize you as an effective problem-solver and throw money at you
  •  You may get tired, even exhausted, but not drained/depleted/depressed
  • You may feel challenged or unsure for a bit, but never paralyzed with fear
  • It is deeply satisfying to know you are adding new value that builds a company’s success
  • You’re never bored…for more than 2 seconds
  • Those “possessed” by an entrepreneurial spirit are those who change the world
  • It’s fun being generous, and you can never give away more than you get back

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that only those who start a business are infused with an entrepreneurial spirit. You can find and encourage it with your children, your employees, with anyone you lead or influence. 

Start by asking yourself, what words would best communicate the spark I see in others? What language would acknowledge and encourage this attitude in them? I recommend that you sit with that and come up with how to express what you feel and believe in words. Take time to play with your phrases and questions until they feel succinct, yet filled with provocative thought. We’ll look at that more in Part Two of this article (coming soon!).

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