All too often people complain about how lazy today's youth are: they are more concerned with their phones, favourite shows, and Facebook than their own future. Well I, as a 19 year old entrepreneur, have some news for these naysayers - you're 100% right.
I am part of a small, somewhat cult-like collective of driven and aspiring young people. We connect with each other from all across the country through a common desire: to make our individual dreams a reality. We stay up all night working on our dreams and we sacrifice our immediate in order to design our futures how we want to, with absolutely no guarantees that our efforts will ever be rewarded.
So what separates us from the rest of today's unambitious, lazy, settle-for-less youth? What makes us say no to partying with our friends or playing Xbox and yes to making our ideas and dreams a reality? What is it, in our upbringing, environment or in our DNA that makes us different? I examined the common traits and perspectives amongst all my entrepreneurial, dream-chasing friends under the age of 25 and discovered the following two commonalities:
We have nothing to lose, only to gain. We don't have dependants, a wife chasing us to bring home the bacon, or a mortgage constraining us to a full-time job. So what have we got to lose if we spend the next few years pursing our passion? Almost nothing.
Hypothetically speaking, we are already at the bottom. If we gamble a few years on pursing our dreams we will either 'fail', lose a couple years of our life but gain invaluable knowledge, or we will achieve our dreams and spend the rest of our lives living exactly how we want to; we call this Freedom.
The cost for pursing such freedom at this age is inconsequential and my ambitious friends understand that. We would rather try to achieve our goals, with a small chance of success, than settle for a 9-5 job that we hate.
One other key quality that seems to be present in all the teenage entrepreneurs I know is self belief. Almost every young person has the ability to think up great, world-changing ideas; unfortunately, these ideas rarely make it off of the sofa they are formulated on. Time and time again I find myself pushing these sofa-preneurs to make their ideas a reality, and time and time again I am confronted with the same lack of confidence which ultimately results in procrastination.
We on the other hand genuinely believe that we can do whatever we set our minds to. "Those who believe they can and those who believe they can't, are both usually right". While our less ambitious peers perceive successful people as possessing a gift that they simply weren't given, we see them as a benchmark for where we aim to be one day, and their gifts as knowledge we too can gain.
I'm not rallying to make every young person an entrepreneur - I understand that such a pursuit isn't to everyone's preference. The point is to give young people the ingrained notion that their dreams can never out-weigh their personal capabilities, and that dreaming bigger is something they should be proud of.
Young people are all too often scared to share their ideas through fear of ridicule. This is something all my entrepreneur friends told me in preparation for this blog; they were often given the kind of mocking look - the kind I expect the Wright brothers got when they declared that they were going to bend a piece of metal and fly it over the oceans. If we can do more within the education system to encourage ambition, and if we as a society start promoting more relatable role models, I believe we could make a huge impact on youth unemployment figures.
I was raised solely by my mother while my dad worked away from home. She dropped out of school in Nigeria at 7 years old and as a result she couldn't read or write; yet her 4 children, me being the youngest, are all considered to be successful.
She forced us to dream bigger and convinced us that where we were then, would have no influence on where we could be. She opened our minds to possibilities that I believe the education system unintentionally narrows. I think we should stop moulding children to become employees and start encouraging them to be the architects of their own ambitions.
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