I really like this 2013 passage by Patrick Brady from his “Enter the Deuce Series” that addresses his desire to make his son a repository for dreams. It offers useful insights for both parents and entrepreneurs. I cut it from my “If you are cycling through chaos keep pedaling” post but I liked it so much I wanted to blog about it separately and expand on how to apply it as a parent and/or an entrepreneur.
A Repository for Dreams
My son is my responsibility. He is also my legacy and one of the two people I most fiercely love on this planet.
He is not a repository for my dreams.
He is a person who I want to prosper insofar as I feel honor-bound to help him find what makes him most happy in this life.
I don’t care if he’s smart.
I don’t care if he’s handsome.
I don’t care if he ends up getting rich.
I don’t give a damn if all the other kids like him.
If he’s happy, the rest will take care of itself. That’s my promise to him; I’ll do all I can to give him the resources to chase his dreams.
I believe in the equation that if he’s happy doing something, that leads to being good at that something and if he’s good at something, he’ll eventually find the kind of success that will allow him to chase whatever variety of family he may want.
Patrick Brady in “Enter the Deuce Part 2“
As a Parent
It summarized my attitude toward my sons as they prepare to leave home: I think the only failures are ethical ones where you make choices that don’t align with your values. Anyone can make errors in judgment or suffer temporary setbacks–“good decision bad outcome” was one of the earliest phrases I remember from my “Decision Analysis” course in college. I think we have to be careful not to place the burden of our dreams on our children. They are unique individuals with talents and desires that may overlap with those of one or both parents but others that are distinct. I think the key script to offer is one that enables them to set goals that are high enough to motivate but practical enough to achieve with some effort.
As an Entrepreneur
If you want to build a business that is larger than a sole proprietorship or solopreneur business model you have to create a firm that can leverage the unique talents of the team you have attracted but reacts to the evolving needs of the market and the impact of competitors entry. While it’s difficult for any business to survive the transition from an early leader it’s the only way to create something of high value. If others cannot operate your business without you then there are very sharp limits on its value. Many successful entrepreneurs have many ideas for products and businesses. Whether they approach these in serial or parallel fashion they need to separate the needs of each business from their needs for creative expression and the satisfaction of lifelong desires or ambitions. Some simple tests for this may be: are you responding to the needs of the market or personal aspirations, are you building something to prove a point or win an argument or satisfy a desire or because it will create value for your customers, and can you plan for your (eventual) departure.
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Photo Credit: Michael J. Zealot “Holding On To Daddy”