Did you know that Richard Branson’s favorite character is Peter Pan? It’s no surprise considering his love for adventure and playful lifestyle. If there’s an entrepreneur that is still very much in touch with his inner child, it’s Branson.
What may be surprising to you, however, is that Branson considers having a childlike attitude towards life can make you a better entrepreneur. Here’s what being more like a child can teach you.
Maintain a sense of wonder
There’s magic in youth – a certain unmasked and undeterred vitality – which allows the young, and young at heart, to experience the world in all its colors.
This is the opening line to Richard Branson’s blog post titled, Why you should act more like a child. With it, he invites the idea that even as you get older, you should never let that youthful energy burn out.
This isn’t a call for you to start throwing food around or wear mismatched socks (although you could if you wanted to), but to firmly grasp onto that sense of wonder and curiosity that’s so wonderful to witness in children.
Try to always see the best in people and the silver lining in every situation. Look for questions where you thought you had all the answers. Being insatiably inquisitive is an entrepreneurial trait you’ll notice in highly successful people like Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Sarah Blakely. So do the same and never stop exploring.
Overcome the stresses of adulthood
Being an adult is stressful. There’s no denying that. The bad news is that research shows stress can stifle your creativity, throw off your mood, and endanger your health. None of those are the makings of a successful entrepreneur. The good news is stress is one of the few things in adulthood that we have complete control over.
Balancing work and play (or combining them, as Branson does) is a proven way to reduce stress and help you live your best life. Whether you sign up for a dance class, read a good book, or simply spend time with your loved ones – you should always make time for some joy in your life.
Granted, children are always stress-free because they have no jobs or taxes to worry about, but they can still teach you a thing or two about using your imagination to make the most out of your life. Every hour of the day has at least five minutes to spare where you can send a funny text, make a call, or dream up a plan for the future. Life is about finding joy in the little things. Be a child and seek out the fun in every corner.
Stop wasting time on unfulfilling ventures
Branson once said, “Entrepreneurship is about turning what excites you in life into capital, so that you can do more of it and move forward with it.”
Finding what excites you in life is sometimes the hardest part. We jump between careers, jobs and hobbies, trying to find that magical activity we both love and have a talent for. The problem is not everyone finds it soon enough, we lose patience and do the worst thing imaginable: settle.
“If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing then you shouldn’t be doing it. It’s that simple,” says Branson in his blog post. Children don’t do what doesn’t make them happy, and that’s something you can learn from them. Don’t waste your time doing things that don’t make your eyes light up or fill you with a sense of purpose.
Even if your current situation doesn’t let you spontaneously quit your 9-5 job, you can still connect with what makes you happy in your free time. Start small and gradually work that hobby up into your full-time venture.
Prioritize happiness in business and in life
According to CNBC, Branson’s daughter, Holly, decided to take a break from medical school and intern at her father’s airline company for a while. During her internship, she discovered that her father’s child-like passion for seeking happiness in every area of his life reflected positively on his business.
His employees were happy, which in turn made his customers happy. Holly writes that her father’s motto has always been that “business should make lives better.”
Branson has successfully pushed that motto beyond Virgin Airlines and into the community. In 2004, he founded Virgin Unite where he spends his time supporting projects ranging from LGBT rights and drug policy reform to challenging climate change and the death penalty.
In Richard Branson’s case, he prioritizes bringing happiness not only to himself but to others. Your priorities may be slightly different, but science does show we are happiest when helping others. So, if you’re indecisive on whether to move forward with a business idea or not, ask yourself if what you’re about to do will make people smile. If the answer is yes, then do it.
There is no greater thing you can do with your life and your work than follow your passions in a way that serves the world and you.
– Richard Branson