I’m pretty sure my father had that innate drive. While family security was important, he had the urge to take on new things. His limited efforts in this way were not met with success. For a number of reasons.
My wiring definitely has some of that. I have stepped out aggressively more than once, raising capital for a new venture. And then I helped my wife start a publishing business several years ago. Additionally, I helped launch two nonprofits. It’s fun to be in the “start with a dream and see it work” business.
The verdict on whether genetics is involved is mixed. But what seems to be a very common indicator for success is a little more clear. And it has to do with…family money.
First, an Inc Magazine story on this topic reports findings from The Department of Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology at Kings College, London. In short, their research concluded:
• 37 to 48 percent of the tendency to be an entrepreneur is genetic.
• The tendency to identify new business opportunities is in your genes.
• Self-employment income is heritable, which means that genetics affect not only the tendency to engage in entrepreneurship, but also the ability to perform it.
• The tendency to have personality traits such as extroversion, openness, etc., has a genetic component. This suggests that your genes could affect your tendency to be an entrepreneur by influencing the type of personality you develop.
But the success factor of entrepreneurship comes from a second article. It’s titled, “Entrepreneurs don’t have a special gene for risk—they come from families with money.” (http://qz.com/455109/entrepreneurs-dont-have-a-special-gene-for-risk-they-come-from-families-with-money/)
Here we learn that “the most common shared trait among entrepreneurs is access to financial capital—family money, an inheritance, or a pedigree and connections that allow for access to financial stability.” When basic needs are met, it’s argued, it’s easier to be creative. Safety nets encourage more risk taking.
A University of California Berkeley study of entrepreneurs revealed most were white, male, and highly educated. Not all, but most. And without family money, success chances drop quite a bit.
On the personality trait side, resilience stands out, along with extroversion and openness as noted earlier. And genetics do play a factor here. It’s still risky business. But as one woman who runs in circles of entrepreneurs says, “Following your dreams can be dangerous.”
This information was quite revealing to me. If I was counseling others on whether to take the leap and start a new venture, I would now have an even more cautious mindset. At least as it applies to business startups.
To the contrary, the spiritual life often demands from us a “leap of faith.” Hebrews, chapter 11, is a classic piece of scripture on the “halls of faith.” Here are a few verses specifically about Abraham:
“It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise. Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.” (Hebrews 11:8-10 NLT)
For a person to have an authentic spiritual life—which will certainly impact our work life as well—faith comes into play. To move confidently into areas where insecurity dwells, it is best to know the voice of God. The sensitivity to hear God’s voice comes by abiding in Him. Leaps of faith are not such big jumps when our hearts are properly tuned.
And in terms of “family wealth” as a safety net, remember: God not only owns the cattle on a thousand hills…he owns the real estate as well.
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