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The Entrepreneurial Foundations of Free Society

The Entrepreneurial Foundations of Free Society

September 27th, 2010 // 4:00 am @

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Howard Gardner’s research suggests that there are fundamentally seven basic intelligences: literary, mathematical, artistic, musical, spatial, interpersonal and intrapersonal.

Modern education tends to emphasize basic knowledge in three of these (literary, mathematical and interpersonal) fields followed by career specialization in one.

During the American founding era that produced a generation of citizen-farmers and citizen-entrepreneurs who established the freest society in history, a different sort of education-career path dominated.

Today’s professionals and experts tend to be trained in problem solving under structured guidelines, whereas successful entrepreneurs seldom have the luxury of easily knowing what the problems are.

They have to figure out what the real issues are and define the problems, and only then find ways to solve problems and overcome roadblocks.

This requires high levels of initiative and resiliency, independent and analytical thinking, ingenuity and creative thinking, tenacity and self-analysis.

These entrepreneurial skills and talents are precisely those needed to establish and maintain freedom.

Intelligences

To prepare youth for success in entrepreneurial (and free) cultures, education tends to emphasize originality, creativity, breadth, depth and leadership skills rather than rote memorization, standardized curricula or socialization.

The latter skill set is vital in societies with strong upper classes employing the lower castes, but the former is essential to free democratic nations.

Where class societies tend to educate for general knowledge in literary, mathematical and interpersonal skills, entrepreneurial nations educate for depth in literary, mathematical, interpersonal, artistic, musical, spatial and intrapersonal (self-understanding, self-discipline, and self-starting) excellence.

Then entrepreneurial societies go a step further by educating to the hyphens.

This means using personalized and mentored learning in the greatest classics and works of mankind along with current original sources to establish skills and train experts in multi-intelligence categories.

Examples include many who used two or more intelligences to significantly impact societies, cultures, paradigms, governments, policies and worldviews:

  • Interpersonal-musicians like Mozart and John Lennon
  • Literary-artists such as Goya, Cecil B. DeMille, and M. Night Shyamalan
  • Interpersonal-literati like Shakespeare, Jane Austen, and John Steinbeck
  • Spatial-artistry like gladiators, NASCAR, and the Louvre
  • Mathematical-artists like Michelangelo and Picasso
  • Literary-mathematicians like Newton, Einstein, and Hawking
  • Literary-intrapersonalists such as Tolstoy, Harriet Beecher Stowe, William Goulding and Ayn Rand
  • Intrapersonal-mathematical thinkers like Montesquieu, Hume, Madison, Mises, Keynes, C.S. Lewis, and Buckminster Fuller

To make sense of this, consider a society where the youth become proficient in reading biographies of great leaders from Socrates to Washington and Andrew Carnegie to Ray Kroc and of effectively applying the lessons learned to their own lives.

Or where every young person knows both the formulas in calculus and also how to build and implement a business plan, including detailed financials, to turn “thin air” into great institutions of profit and non-profit value in society.

Skills

The lessons of such expertise naturally impact the prosperity and freedom of a society.

And such lessons come from depth in many of the intelligences instead of general education in only three and a specialty in just one.

Such widespread competency in reading, writing, persuading, leading, calculating, comparing, analyzing, thinking, creating, beautifying, composing, building, interacting, initiating, overcoming, enduring, changing, improving, motivating, self-starting, self-disciplining, self-guiding, teamwork, leading and serving are what the American founders idealized as quality education.

These are the necessary skills of successful entrepreneurship and also of societal freedom.

This level of education and expertise is developed by what Ken Wilber calls the Big Three of Buddhism: Buddha, Sangha and Dharma.

“Buddha” in this sense means combining one’s purpose or mission in life with developing oneself into a true and great servant of society.

The Greeks called this Fate and the American founders called it Providence.

By seeking to be guided by higher powers and higher purposes, a person becomes her best and as such greatly improves society through her efforts and contributions.

Buddha is credited with saying that “Our purpose in life is to find our purpose in life and then give our whole heart and soul to it.”

Sangha is one’s community, gathering, group or team. Working together with the right people, “we” do more than “I” ever could.

Good teams are diverse, individualistic, cooperative and united toward the same goals. They achieve most when they operate at peak levels.

Dharma is the truth, the true, the ideal. Dharma helps us know why we are here, what we are about, and therefore who we really are.

But Dharma is not about “I” or “We.” Rather it is about what we accomplish: the goal, the objective, the positive change we bring to the world through our best efforts and service.

In Christianity this is the Christian walk, the anointed purpose, the path.

Christianity’s equivalent of Sangha is the Church, and “Buddha” is the submission to Christ and His will.

Plato and secularists call these big three the good, the beautiful and the true, and psychology calls them the “I, We and It”—Buddha, Sangha and Dharma respectively.

In American politics these are citizen, the Constitution and freedom.

The lesson for education is that great learning is:

  1. Individualized
  2. Best achieved in interactive groups with mentors, peers, discussions, feedback and group projects
  3. Mission-driven

Again, the very skills and abilities created by this model are exactly those most needed in free society. Without them, entrepreneurial prosperity and political freedom decline.

Personality

Add personality types to the intelligences and skills, and our realization of the need for widespread entrepreneurial talent and experience intensifies.

Where the Greeks and moderns tend to break human personality into four dominant groups, symbolized by animals or colors or other models, the Old Testament emphasized twelve types and the New Testament adopted thirteen.

One of the most unique and profound systems of personality typing is the Enneagram.

The Enneagram was created by Muslims from the Sufi tradition, and is now popular in many multi-level and network marking circles.

Its nine types of people are distinct, deep and tend to resonate with nearly all readers. The nine types are essentially as follows:

  1. Reformer: principled, purposeful, self-controlled and perfectionistic
  2. Helper: demonstrative, generous, people-pleasing, and possessive
  3. Achiever: adaptive, excelling, driven, and image-conscious
  4. Individualist: expressive, dramatic, self-absorbed, and temperamental
  5. Investigator: perceptive, innovative, secretive, and isolated
  6. Loyalist: engaging, responsible, anxious, and suspicious
  7. Enthusiast: spontaneous, versatile, distractible, and scattered
  8. Challenger: self-confident, decisive, willful, and confrontational
  9. Peacemaker: receptive, reassuring, agreeable, and complacent

Of course, there is a lot more depth to this in the many volumes which describe it.

Interestingly, in traditional business the typical use of the Enneagram and other personality types like the Myers-Briggs is to help managers interact more effectively with their employees — and vice versa.

Teachers often use it to better understand and work with their students.

In entrepreneurial environments, however, the focus is quite different.

This can be understood in the following three steps:

  1. Understand your own top strengths so you can give them a lot more energy and greatly improve them.
  2. Identify those types on which you score at the mid levels, so you can develop them into strengths.
  3. Clarify where you are weak and team up with people who are extremely strong in these areas.

This flies directly in the face of much educational/career theory from the past half century, where the system has generally been satisfied with grade-level performance in a given subject, and focused special attention on the students’ weaknesses.

By contrast, teachers governed by entrepreneurial values in the classroom would have children spend much more time on their strengths than their weaknesses.

Those scoring high in math, for example, would take a lot more math than other students and in fact study math at the highest levels in special courses designed just for such students. The same would occur in all fields.

Teachers would also divide students learning to read, for example, not by levels but into teams where each team would include students from low, medium and high reading levels.

Corporate architecture would combine mail carriers, board members and everyone in between in adjacent offices and co-mingle everyone on all floors.

The Third-Turning value of efficiency would give way to the Fourth-Turning focus on growth as a community through individual excellence and synergistic cooperation.

This, by the way, is how nearly all entrepreneurial ventures and small businesses actually do things.

The consequences in society and governance are huge. Indeed, this is exactly the model of citizens and voters that America’s founders had in mind—all types of people mingled together, each equal as a citizen and before the law.

Freedom is the natural result.

And on the skills of applying such a model, small business leaders and entrepreneurs are years ahead of the rest of society.

The point is not, as most entrepreneurs will tell you, to turn things over to entrepreneurs or any other group of citizens. Such a plan would only create another style of class system.

The real solution is to have a lot more entrepreneurs in society. In the long term, this is achieved by giving America’s youth a true Leadership Education and naturally letting our society benefit as more entrepreneurs arise.

A quicker solution would be set in motion by simply de-regulating small businesses.

IQ vs. EQ

For a long time America used IQ as the measure of intelligence as well as a predictor of academic and career success.

IQ tests measured literary, mathematical and spatial intelligence, but little else. They basically ignored the other intelligences.

Daniel Goleman’s best-seller, Emotional Intelligence, showed how managers could become better leaders by also developing interpersonal, intrapersonal, and more artistic skills. He argued that EQ (emotional intelligence) is just as important as IQ.

Pop culture tends to summarize these two as right brain (EQ) and left brain (IQ).

In this view, left-brain experts, professionals and executives have significantly different skill sets than right-brain artists, creative types and motivators.

It is all about the intellect versus the emotions, in society and in each of our personal lives.

The IQ monopoly resulted in many business authors writing that being too intelligent is not good for business, since many with a very high IQ were hired by mid-IQ bosses.

EQ shed some light on the situation, showing that successful entrepreneurship and innovation tend to blossom where analytical and creative skills are balanced.

High IQ with significantly lower EQ, or vice versa, tend a person toward specialized employment. Where right and left brain are generally equal, be it high or middle or even relatively low, initiative, risk, tenacity and leadership often flourish.

In short, many jobs require certain levels of IQ or EQ, but successful entrepreneurs either naturally have a balance of both or must develop one.

The old view that IQ can’t be increased is being replaced as we see many people who clearly break old barriers and disprove the experts.

Entrepreneurial success usually requires deep understanding of and skills in many of the basic intelligences.

General education courses in three of them and specialization in only one simply doesn’t work in the challenging real world of entrepreneurial competition.

Nor, for that matter, is it adequate to maintain freedom.

Eco vs. Ego

For years American politics has been dominated by two parties, one emphasizing success and the other nurture.

This battle of Ego versus Eco still drives most national debates.

Where one party is driven toward wealth, fame and progress, the other prefers to promote caring, service and acceptance.

One is self-centered and the other is inclusive. One sees private life as the highest good and the other wants government to solve all problems in society.

One prioritizes national security above all else and the other idealizes social justice.

More Americans now consider themselves independents, rather than loyal to either major political party, in part because we have reached a point where the majority of the nation’s citizens consider both Ego and Eco to be vital.

This has been the norm for entrepreneurs for many years. Indeed, entrepreneurs who try to put one above the other seldom succeed for long.

Small and entrepreneurial business leaders learn that both caring and drive are necessary.

The same is true of citizens who want to remain free. Indeed, the most important entrepreneurial skills and lessons are those most needed to promote free society.

Freedom is best supported by excellence and compassion, self-improvement and service, building wealth and taking care of other people and the earth.

Freedom requires a balance of analysis and creativity, intellect and emotion, wisdom and intuition, reflection and action.

Free societies are intelligent societies, because the broad citizenry must understand and protect its freedoms or it will lose them.

But a society cannot remain free by following a few geniuses at the top — this always destroys liberty.

The most prosperous and free civilizations are those where the majority of people develop and share their best personal genius.

Everyone has genius inside, and it is the purpose of Leadership Education to reveal it and help people develop it.

Career is the place where genius is then shared to benefit and improve the world. Finally, it is the purpose of free society to allow all to fully achieve and share their genius.

Entrepreneurial activity naturally seeks these peaks and balances. This isn’t new; it was the reality during the American founding and has been ever since.

The future will be no different. We all need to learn and apply this truism: However small business goes, so goes the nation.

Click Here to Download a Printable Version of This Article

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Oliver DeMille is the founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

He is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

 

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Category : Arts &Education &Entrepreneurship &Leadership &Producers

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