The quest for entrepreneurship and a greater life was almost always noticed in the tenacious drive and determination within a person that had the odds stacked against them. People often couldn’t fathom the risks, the leaps and the chances they were prepared to take whilst others sat cosy in their comfort zone.
“Why would you jump in an ocean full of sharks?”, was often something I was asked. But the truth was it was as if you were on an island with lions, cheetahs, and the reality of your survival was limited there, so you dive in! Because the risk of being eaten alive as you swim to another island that represents potential & possibility, far outweighed the concept of simply staying stagnant and accepting your fate with the lions!
If I take my own story, I was a teenager in construction, not so great at following rules merely because you said so without understanding WHY, but passionate about improving myself in whatever way, at any expense that I could. I adopted new thinking, trained my mind to maximise the day, rehearsed daily and any spare moment I had I was reading, listening, studying and practising. My life and a quest to consistently improve was my degree!
Whilst some began studying when they went to university, I had to get to work from the age of 13, owning the fact that no one was coming to rescue me, and no one was coming to fix things. So, you grab the reins and learn to be the master of your own fate.
It meant rigorous training of my habits and being a chameleon until I learnt the ropes. It meant a hell of a lot of observing and asking a tone of questions when I eventually found someone that was worthy of taking advice from, someone from where I wanted to be. But often I had to ask myself these questions, I had to self-reflect. And in a quest to learn to survive, it seems I developed a lot of my own entrepreneurial habits. And one thing is for sure, when you’re in an ocean full of sharks, you learn to swim really, damn quick!
There’s a great white sitting up your backside, now you’ve got to evaluate your options really quickly. Go left – these are options, your pros and cons, and right – this is what your options are here. So, guess what?! You move quick! The term ‘hustle on steroids’ is probably the best way to logically sum it all up for any resilience building exercise, like growing up kicking it in the streets!
There’s a lot to say about the resilience developed in both street smarts and in our social housing systems. For some reason we screw our nose up at people who come from different classes then our own, but the reality was, their resilience, their tolerance, far exceeds the regular human being and this was something we needed in our businesses! Leaders who were fearless from experience, their thresholds pushed so far, they retained their composure, and leaders who could hand on heart say to their staff, “I’ve done, I’ve walked it, I can help you.” Their capacity to manage pressure is increased, their ability to adapt to survive and make tough decisions was prevalent and proven. Often growing up without the cushions of comfort zones, children in both social housing and challenging family circumstances had to learn to get their hands dirty early on.
So where were the barriers for these individuals and how do we help to foster the growth out of these circumstances?
- Owning your story – Accepting where they were at and working through it. Typically, as we grow we foster this identity of how things should be, and we begin to make comparisons. When we don’t receive what we think we should from the people around us we foster resentment, we get mad. Let them feel how they feel – they have gone through a lot and there is no wrong or right here. Only then can we begin to break down the perception that life needs to look a certain way and allow them to flourish as they are.
- Acceptance – Accepting the good with the bad. The habits these individuals have developed at a young age in their street smarts and their wits to survive, some of the biggest CEO’s haven’t even touched on! Recognising this level of resilience and then fostering this trait into leadership is optimising the strengths of the individual. You cannot steer them into a round hole, they are a square peg, so let them be one!
- Opportunities – Showing them the pathways out. We are all creatures of habit. We become our environment. We need to reach out to demonstrate the pathways forward that do look a little different to the one they are currently in.
- Leadership – These people need leaders, it’s imminent they follow – the habits are often hard to break as we mimic our surroundings. In my own instance I read books obsessively. I immersed myself in a world I wanted to create, not the world I had. I learnt the tools to create my goals, my visions, to count my blessings on the days I once felt I had none, to develop a place I wanted to arrive at.
- Self-worth – We can’t accept good things into our lives until we realise we are worthy of receiving them. Often if you have been put through the ringer this is a challenging one. Only when we begin to allow people a voice and appreciation that they too can have an input into our companies, that we can foster a sense of greater self-worth within these individuals. Productivity levels are increased and we begin to truly nurture the natural leadership skills of the individual as we provide the space for them to flourish and grow.
Tamika Smith – Founder of Top 100 Women