Created on November 10, 2016
by Rod Anderson, President, Sandbox Brand Marketing
Can Alberta get back to greatness in the face of crisis? An opinion.
They say you see someone’s character in how they deal with adversity. I have a belief that countries, companies and even humans require adversity or absolute crisis in order to get better and stronger. We need to be broken down to get better, stronger, and more driven.
As Alberta suffers through its second recession in less than 10 years, many people I speak with feel that this time it is different. This time it is going to last longer, go deeper, and things may never be the same again. Maybe this is a good thing.
The question then is: will Alberta recover and build strength from this crisis, or will it rest on what got us here in the first place, and probably never be the proud province I first experienced in the mid 90s?
How will we move forward and who will make this happen? It is doubtful it will be driven by politicians, as statistically there is very little impact on the long term economic health from any political party or individual political leader. History tells us that small business, entrepreneurs and innovation will pave the path for economic growth and prosperity.
As I ponder this, it makes me wonder what drives someone to be an entrepreneur in the first place. As a member of both TEC and EO in Western Canada, I have been fortunate enough to be around many entrepreneurs and to get to know them and what drives them to do what they do. Also, at Sandbox Brand Marketing, we have conducted deep, one on one research with hundreds of entrepreneurs throughout North America to uncover what it is that drives them and makes them and their businesses unique. What adversity have the visionaries overcome in their lives that then defines their character and thus the organization’s character, and as a result, makes them great.
There is a pattern we are seeing when it comes to entrepreneurs and those that make significant impact in our world. Many of these great people had one or more significant crises when they were children that, as a result, now drives them to be the people and do the things they do today. There are also multiple studies and books written about the subject of adversity and greatness. We are also seeing that the more significant the crisis was growing up, the more driven the person is to want to create impact in the world. Of course there are also many stories of people who were defeated by their childhoods and have thus become convinced that their efforts will never succeed, so they stop trying.
There are two major categories that drive entrepreneurs that we have seen: drive and risk tolerance.
- DRIVE: top executives that achieve at a high level often experienced a significant stress or trauma that happened early on in their lives. The vast majority didn’t have some sort of basic needs met as children so they are very, very driven to succeed and control their fate. They approach what they believe in with a dedication and obsession that makes them unique.
- RISK TOLERANCE: entrepreneurs have an ability and a need to take risks in their personal and professional lives that most would never consider. The reason for this is explained in psychological, molecular and neurological terms (to be covered in a future blog). It is connected to the brain pathways and in needing more stimulation to feel the same level of accomplishment and pleasure as the average person.
I believe Alberta is no different whereby it is the entrepreneurs who will get us out of this economic situation. Perhaps this is a significant event in our province's history that will prove to spur all of us to drive harder and take the risks required to create something great and have significant impact on the world. We are a can-do province, with people who are, for the most part, educated, outgoing, and unafraid to try new things. Let’s quit being afraid and instead wake up and start creating instead of protecting. The time is now to shape the future impact that Alberta can have, and use this crisis to fuel the future state we can create.
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