the best is not always the first…

the best is not always the first…

Today was my eight year old daughter’s last day of school for the second term.

She had a statement to make – a child picked up a prize for a special achievement – with a sparkle in her eyes,  she asked me , can I also get a prize?

Which got me thinking. After assuring her that she indeed can, it made me go back in time to my school days. Most of us were average, as children often are. There were the brilliant ones and they were those who became the doctors and the engineers. Today, they still do. Our education system has not changed much from the days back when I went to school. The under achievers don’t always discover their potential – perhaps later in life and then they shine and notch up achievements.

The average ones always form the majority. They may not always be the bright sparks and maybe late bloomers but they are all special nevertheless. It’s sad that our education system does not allow the majority to also sparkle. While burdening one with a lot of useless information which can neither be used for a modern day career nor learnt to make things better in life, the system also gives an unfair advantage to the ones with photographic memory.

While studying for a case study during our marketing days, I remember the ones sitting around and listening to what was being discussed. Often enough, these listeners who were memorizing what was being discussed, achieved better results than the ones actually churning up ideas for the discussion. The system of learning by rote favours those who can cram and fill up their memory space with information, only to bring it out at an examination.

So how do we measure success – is it in terms of academic achievement or career success? As we now know, the academic performance is not always related to career highs. While it does happen – those who do well in school and university always go on to get into stellar careers especially if they are in specialised knowledge fields like medicine or law, for others, one is not always connected to the other.

Soft skills matter in the real world as much as academic performance – how do we measure up to the expectations of self-assured confidence, being articulate, smart, fast to learn and the ability to get things done independently. Those traits are powerful enough to make or break a career – and can sometimes even surpass academic achievements.

While we do encourage children to ensure they do well in school and at university, we should also make sure their social and emotional intelligence measures up. How are the speaking skills, writing skills – do they excel at inter personal relationships? How do they connect with one another, are they able to get things done and able to communicate effectively?

Back to the achiever at school – we must ideally be able to make sure all children can be achievers in their own way – and to assure them that even though they may not always make the cut academically, they can do well in life nevertheless.

Great entrepreneurship is often the result of experience, hard work and the knack for finding a great niche.

The best entrepreneurs the world has seen have come from the ranks – they are usually disciplined, committed and able to see opportunities where others may not. For most women, entrepreneurship has come as a result of wanting to pursue a line of work that enables and empowers them to manage a business and a career while also managing the home and the kids.

That certainly was my case. Having worked in the corporate world until 1994, I started on my own and founded Niche Corporate Communications, the PR agency I have been running since 1995. I worked through two pregnancies – when my son was born in 1998, I was talking to clients until a few hours before entering hospital. Yet in 1998, when my son was a few months old, I ventured into publishing and founded the Satyn magazine. Was busy with both companies and the training I was doing right until the time I gave birth to my daughter in 2007.

Having managed it all, right up to now, including the home front and the kids, I personally believe that a successful female entrepreneur can set herself some guidelines.

Developing Seamless Work – Rest Segments –

A good entrepreneur really has no distinction between the time you clock in and the time you clock off. When you work for yourself, you have to set personal targets for yourself. Yet those targets have to be developed after careful evaluation of your time. There are times when I work at my computer in the night after my six year old daughter has been put to bed. I find the quietness of the night an ideal time to get a lot of writing done. The time my daughter comes in from school in the afternoon until she is ready for bed is a time that calls me to be hands-on. Although if there are meetings to attend, calls to be made and work to be done, I am at my desk but I try to keep this time bely flexible to ensure her needs are taken care of. Flexi-time is great for entrepreneurship but it also calls for a lot of discipline.

Prioritizing is Vital –

What needs most attention right now and what can be on the burner for the next 48 hours – as mothers and wives, we are familiar with getting our priorities right. You can always fall back on your experience as a busy mom to fine tune into this frequency. Not all entrepreneurs deal with providing services like I do. There are those engaged in providing time sensitive services such as catering and others who must work on tight time schedules. Getting your priorities right always help in enabling you to manage your business better.

With smart phones and tablet PCs, we can put technology to good use by harnessing the power of that technology to enable us to get our priorities in order.

Find The Time to Think & Re-energize –

I have always found that spending some time on just thinking and re-energizing always help you come up with new ideas. This can be a slot of time you can block at a time either at the beginning of the day or the last thing at night. It always helps you to focus and ensure you can develop new areas of interest. Thinking is a vital segment and an empowering process that enables you to reach the next step. If not, you could sometimes get stuck in a rut of doing day to day operations and merely staying where you are. You can use this block of time to read up on the newest business trends, ideas and what is happening out there. Such times are also the best to help you think out of the box, empowering you to source opportunities.

Entrepreneurship calls for a lot more than just telling yourself I am running a business. It calls for talent, hard work and being smart. It combines experience and expertise and ensuring that what you have incubated and developed becomes a success in the long term.

The Importance o Discipline and Work Ethic – 

Entrepreneurship also empowers one to become disciplined and develop a strong work ethic. When it comes to getting work done, your work ethic must be a total commitment. When I have to complete a writing assignment for a client requirement, even though I may have been busy during the day attending meetings or running errands, I will make sure the task is done even if I have to work late into the night. You will earn valuable customer trust when they know you will keep your word. If you cannot for some reason, letting them know early on will also help cement the kind of close relationships you need to develop with them.

When you work for yourself, you can get carried away – there are no set boundary lines except for those you set yourself. Yet they are the most important and the ones that will empower you to excel at what you do. Image