Do you remember your first day at primary school?
That little familiar world of your parents’ home was all you needed. You never asked for a noisy classroom, with snotty children and piles of toys. Aaah. Maybe you felt some excitement. But you probably even screamed and begged your parents to just take you home again.
As an entrepreneur, you also go through many self-chosen and forced-upon changes that might sometimes make you feel like screaming. While you actually need a quiet and open mind to get lots of work done.
How do schools help children through this change? How do they make children feel at home and safe, so they can open up for learning and creativity? And what can you take from this to handle your big changes better?
Some types of primary schools give children the following instruments, which seem to be quite effective:
- Fixed rituals. For example a morning routine. Letting the children clean their little table with a cloth. Take care of their tiny plant and put it on their desk. In this way they create their own safe little world.
- Connection with a buddy. Another older child is assigned as their buddy to keep an eye on them and help them do and learn new things.(And later on they are a buddy for a younger child. Perfect. Teaching and helping someone else improves their skills even more).
- Space to follow their nature. Most of the time children can decide what to work on. They are not forced to sit still and read for hours in a row, if they actually come alive when chalking in the schoolyard or building castles from Lego.
When changing to high school, these habits will no longer suffice. Walking around with your little plant, or cleaning your desk with a cloth, every single hour… Even if you could get away with this manic behaviour without being made fun of, it’s just not practical.
So over time, you have to find your own way of creating enough safety to get to work and learn. You will need to adjust to the changing situations with most effective ‘instruments’.
Changes will keep on happening.
It was once a big change to become an entrepreneur. Now you might hire your first employees or make a big move to another office building.
But although you tend to like the excitement that comes with change, you are probably not immune for the fear and uncertainty that comes along with it. In some ways you still need to create a certain safe feeling to stay creative and productive.
So how can you create this safety in the midst of this life that’s about moving, shaking things up and transformations?
In the interview series Zen Habits of Entrepreneurs, Leo conducts in-depth interviews with entrepreneurs on this subject.
Watching these made me see their habits are actually quite similar to those instruments of primary schools. They do the following
- Create fixed daily routines. If running every morning is their thing, they run every morning. They don’t waste their precious time on thinking about “shall I go running today or not?”. No. There are always reasons not to do it, like rain, being too busy or aching knees. They just go, if only for a few minutes.
- Connect with their buddies. They hang out with people that foster their desired behaviour. These are people that are a bit ahead of them. But also people who are motivated to make the same changes and want to learn from them (…which is one of the reasons the Impact Hub exists.)
- Follow their nature. For one, it’s starting the day with a team meeting; for another, it’s blocking quiet afternoons for creative work and for again someone else, it’s having a sophisticated planning system. Copying someone else habits can be a start. But doing that blindly won’t be effective. Forcing yourself into someone else’s habits, might even cause you more stress. You’ll have to play and experiment by yourself to find out what habits work for you.
If you are afraid or overwhelmed when thinking about current or upcoming changes. Don’t find the solution in ignoring or fighting change. No, wake up and dance with the waves of change by creating your own habits and structure.
Try out some new habits and take the time to see what works for you.
And if you really don’t know where to start – but only then – OK, you’re allowed to secretly put a little plant on your desk and obsessively take care of it.
“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” ~ Alan Watts