I hate to read something like this, about a boy in South Carolina who was punished because he decided to use his broken pencil sharpener.
But sometimes this happens. When you can’t get the help you need for something, you have to make your own way.
The sharpener had broken, revealing the small blade found inside. He was suspended for ingenuity in the face of adversity. Again, this happens. Fate throws you a curve. But can you create your destiny?
That brings us to Lesson 11, in a 12 Lesson Series about what I’ve learned about entrepreneurial business thinking from living in Asia.
Identifying when you need help is the first step in the process of De-Adversification
Always ask for help. It’s a first step in self-awareness, of notifying yourself of your own needs, and your own potential solutions for a problem. That’s how you meet people and that’s how you grow your network, and that’s how you innovate.
This is most true when living abroad. For years, I struggled. I would look to find work at a newspaper or a magazine, and find that I was an interesting fellow, but they simply could not hire me. I didn’t know Chinese. Or, I didn’t know somebody important.
I ended up making my way by tutoring. US$60 an hour teaching English to middle class Hong Kong families. That’s how I became a company unto myself.
What’s a Nice Boy Like You Doing in a Metropolis Like Hong Kong?
In my 5.5 year journey in Hong Kong, I learned that needing help is a common occurence, and that in the process of looking for help, one can often create his own answers to a problem. But you don’t really know what you need, until you are aware that you really need something. Something, perhaps, is not working in your search to succeed.
Help! It’s not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign that you need more resources, and you alone cannot solve the problems that at the time seem like all the world’s problems. It’s a call to action for yourself. Nobody is going to help you for your own good.
Herein lies self awareness. You’ve called out. You are aware you lack a solution. You are actually at your most vulnerable point, and at the best point for starting over and gaining new knowledge. Lack is filled by invention.
Entrepreneurialism is all about finding new knowledge, where it appears nothing exists. To be an entrepreneur, you need to be in the process of finding help. you need to be in a searching mode. Only then can you build.
For example, I couldn’t find a job after I quit working for a newspaper. I wanted a job. I couldn’t find one because I didn’t know Chinese. I was not useful to anyone. The universe, if you will, was forcing me to recognize that fact.
Here, without resources, I searched. Nobody was going to “help” me get a job.
I realized, “Now is the time to learn Chinese!” I took a tutor, twice a week, reading and writing. Tones and memorization.
There is a certain spiritual belief present here, and I have alluded to it: Around every storm cloud is a silver lining, as the Chinese say. The larger forces of life are revealing to a person in this situation that the answer is in the search. Recognize the search, and find a solution. You will de-adversify if you give into this helplessness. I believe very strongly that even without a job, spending the money learning Chinese was what I was meant to do at that time, even though fiscally it was most uncomfortable. Being without help, having to strive to learn something new was my fate. but I created my destiny, as small as that was at the time.
That is the Way of the Entrepreneur.
I was able to put on my resume, “Learning Chinese.” One month after I started lessons and began acquiring new language skills, I was offered a new job, which enabled me to take on an entrepreneurial role in a new company. I was tasked to work with a team to build their new media and online advertising analysis division. That company is Media Partners Asia, a Hong Kong-based independent media consulting company.