«The share of people under age 30 who own private businesses has reached a 24-year-low, according to new data, underscoring financial challenges and a low tolerance for risk among young Americans». The Wall Street Journal.
“The fear of failure is the measure we should be most concerned about,” Donna Kelley, Babson College.
All this makes perfect sense to me and all this starts at home and school: 21st century children are raised in highly risk-averse, liability-conscious, protective environments (think car seats, bicycle helmets, childproof packaging, no kissing, no touching, no dancing, no talking, rules in elementary school, etc) that are contrary to entrepreneurial activity, itself by definition «risky». As such, children receive significant negative stimuli with respect to «risk-taking», whatever your definition of risk.
Growing up today, there are few, if any, incentives to assume any risk at all, because it’s «not safe», and you get punished for whatever behavior adults happen to consider unsafe (little matter that we engaged in all sorts of behavior that is unsafe by today’s standards). Think of the signs around most swimming pools in the US: NO FOOD, NO GLASS, NO EATING, NO RUNNING, NO DIVING, NO DOGS, etc. In a nutshell, these signs scream: RISK PROHIBITED!
Why then, should children have any desire to identify with anything containing the word, as in «risk-taking entrepreneurs?»
I’m certainly not offering up any sort of value judgment in this regard, but, if we consider life as being precious, then the logical conclusion is to attempt to mitigate any risks to it, i.e. «unsafe behavior». This is a far cry from the late 19th and early 20th-century British concept of having sufficient children to ensure an «heir and a spare»…
Think Perry and Amundsen, the Wright brothers, Lindbergh, all the «right stuff» WWI and WWII vets, or the Apollo crews. They figured the risk was worth it. Some won, some didn’t, but they gave it their all. Same in the 80’s … Computers, video games, software, the internet, then names like Gates, Zuckerberg, Jobs, Branson… Risk takers.
Can’t have your cake and eat it too.
Innovation in education? Not risk free. After 10 years pushing my educational projects I sure know that. But I will keep pushing regardless.
Why not right?