I often coach entrepreneurs when they start their businesses and, in doing so, get to the core of 'why' they want to go out on their own. I love it when dreams of boatloads of money surface.

And then I ask THE question : 'How much is enough ?' I continue : 'If I give you 1 million dollars right now, would you be happy ?' 'How about 5 million ? 10 million ? (etc)' The conversation quickly turns to how much is needed to live well, what living well means and what the real priorities in life are.

Somewhere during the entrepreneur's soul-searching, I take out a fantastic study that was done many times and taken up by a University of Wisconsin group. There are similar stats on the web, this one comes from the good people at www.100people.org.

Miniature Earth have also made a video with older stats but still very poignant.

It's enough to make the entrepreneur reflect on his true priorities and just how much is really enough.

Important note : I'm certainly not coaching entrepreneurs to NOT make money. I am simply getting them to reflect about their situation on a global scale and realize just how blessed they already are. I also try to bring the entrepreneur to develop other reasons than money to start a business.

IF THE WORLD WERE 100 PEOPLE:
Gender
50 would be female
50 would be male

Age
20 would be 0-14
67 would be 15-64
14 would be 65 and older

Geography
5 would be from North America
9 would be from Latin America & the Caribbean
12 would be from Europe
61 would be from Asia
13 would be from Africa

Religion
31 would be Christian
21 would be Muslim
14 would be Hindu
6 would be Buddhist
12 would believe in other religions
16 would not be religious or identify themselves
as being aligned with a particular faith

First Language
17 would speak Chinese
8 would speak Hindustani
8 would speak English
7 would speak Spanish
4 would speak Arabic
4 would speak Russian
3 would speak Bengali
2 would speak Malay-Indonesian
2 would speak French
45 would speak other languages

Overall Literacy
82 would be able to read and write
18 would not

Literacy by Gender
87 males would be able to read and write
13 males would not be able to read and write
77 females would be able to read and write
23 females would not be able to read and write

Education
76 males would have a primary school education
72 females would have a primary school education

66 males would have a secondary school education
63 females would have a secondary school education

1 would have a college education

Urban/Rural
47 would be urban dwellers
53 would be rural dwellers

Drinking Water
83 would have access to safe drinking water
17 would use unimproved water

Food
17 would be undernourished

Infectious Disease
<1% would have HIV/AIDS
<1%would have tuberculosis

Poverty
53 would live on less than 2USD per day
50 would live in poverty

Electricity
69 would have electricity
31 would not

Technology
34 would be cell phone subscribers
17 would own a computer
1 would be be active internet users

 
 

Rarely a day goes by that I am either asking for some form of help or getting asked for help. It's in my business with clients, suppliers or employees. It's in my family with my wife and kids. It's in my church with the teens I mentor. It's in the startups I coach with those fantastic wide-eyed new entrepreneurs. It's in my social involvement.

In all honesty, I have more often been asked for help than the other way around. I could justify it by saying 'it's because I have more experience than most', but in reality, it's because I was taught that I should be able to fix things on my own.

Asking for help was seen as a form of weakness. Ever thought that ?

So I've started reflecting on the value of helping others and, especially, asking for help in return. When I look back on the great help I've received in any sphere of my life, I start to notice some interesting patterns, which I now apply.

First: I seek to understand...
- the other person's moral base, values and 'non-negotiables';
- the other person's life priorities;
- the other person's particular and contextual situation and how it may differ from my experience.

Then: I seek to demonstrate...
- what my moral base, values and 'non-negotiables' are;
- what my life priorities are;
- what my particular and contextual situation was;
- what I learnt from the experience and what I would do differently.

I can't stress this order enough. If I don't understand you first, how can I help you ? My ultimate goal is to help them determine their own path to maximum happiness according to their values and priorities (not mine).

Finally, if I give them advice, I try to underline the fact that I won't be offended if they heed it or not. Just seeing them reflect on these very personal questions is validation enough for me.

It never ceases to amaze me how this simple process has had long-reaching effects in my life. Little do they know that in this exchange where someone is seeking advice from me... it was I who was the most helped.

 
 

There is a story I often use to talk about true commitment.

'A chicken and a pig were walking down the street one day and noticed some poor children who looked as if they hadn't eaten anything for days. Moved with compassion, the chicken said to the pig, 'I have an idea! Let's give those children a nice breakfast of of ham and eggs.' The pig contemplated the chicken's suggestion and said, 'Well, for you, that would involve a small sacrifice : but for me, it would be a total commitment!'

I love it. Total commitment. This notion permeates everything I do. As an entrepreneur, am I totally committed to the satisfaction of all the actors involved around me ? As a father and husband, does my family see me enough to say that I'm committed to them ? Does my social involvement limit itself to donating money or do I also give my time, my knowledge, my experiences and my feelings ? Do I just pay lip service to my values, or am I willing to die for them ?

I don't want to be a chicken who just lays the eggs and then leaves.... I want to be a pig who gives himself to the cause.