An axiom is a Greek word and philosophical term that refers to something so self-evident that you don’t need any proof of it. I have two business axioms for entrepreneurs that guide me in living my life and running my business.
Business Axiom #1: I don’t have to know all the answers.
I was born in 1944 on a farm in northern Ohio, and although I was number five in a family of seven children, I had no peer playmates until I started school, which was a six-mile drive from our home. I was an alert, curious, happy kid, and I was very interactive with my parents and other adults I’d encounter.
Somewhere along the line, I cracked the code on dealing with adults (and later entrepreneurs) and created a new axiom. I learned that if you ask adults specific questions, they will talk nonstop. One of the questions I’d ask as a young boy was, ‘When you were my age, what was going on in your world?’ Then I’d continue asking what it was like, and they’d share their experiences and lessons.
I found it funny that adults would then tell my parents that I was interesting and knew a lot when I didn’t know anything except to ask good questions. That’s the whole point of this axiom.
I learned that the people I’m talking to have the answers already—if I ask the right questions. Today, the entire Strategic Coach universe is based on that business axiom because all the answers are in the heads of our entrepreneurial clients.
Our questions are about our entrepreneurs’ experiences, and we help them put those experiences together.
A question might be:
If you think about where you are right now and look back ten years, in what three areas do you feel you’ve made the most significant progress?
I don’t have to know the experiences; I just know they have an experience that can be compared and measured and that entrepreneurs will think new thoughts because of this question. The other thing is that questions about human experience are timeless. So, if you get a handle on comparing the kinds of experiences that are important to people, you’re set for life. Then, just fine-tune your questions and remember that answers are seasonal and will need updating.
I’ve spent my whole life mastering great questions that allow entrepreneurs to get enormous value out of their own experience with this business axiom.
Here’s another question I might ask entrepreneurs:
What are your three biggest failures that seemed negative at the time but later turned out to be great discoveries and breakthroughs?
This question updates an entrepreneur’s understanding of their failure so that they no longer interpret their past as painful but rather as valuable, with lessons to apply to the future. There’s a freedom that comes with this insight.
Business Axiom #2: Nothing was created with me in mind.
People have a lot of things that bother them about their daily life, situation, and circumstances, and this gets multiplied exponentially by social media and the internet. I find I’m personally not bothered by much. I think this has to do with my growing up as a fifth child, as my older siblings had used up everything and taken up all the space by the time I came around. So, this axiom came from the sense that nothing in the world was designed with me in mind. I experienced safety and support, but I understood that it wasn’t designed specifically for me.
By freeing myself with this axiom, I have no basis for complaining about things that aren’t the way I want them to be. It frees me from being annoyed and bothered as an entrepreneur. On the other hand, since nothing was created with me in mind, I can do anything I want. Nobody can say anything about my way of doing things differently or experimenting as an entrepreneur. Since none of it was designed for me, I don’t have any responsibility for it.
This business axiom is incredibly freeing for entrepreneurs.
As an entrepreneur, I can rearrange things to suit me, and I have the right to do that. So does everybody else. The only thing that prevents other people from feeling that freedom is thinking they’re owed something and complaining, making it very difficult to shift into a creative mode and share from a place of abundance and generosity. Following these two axioms can help shift your mindset into a freeing and empowered one.
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