“On the neck of the young man sparkles no gem so gracious as enterprise” (Ralph Waldo Emerson).
AS AN ECONOMIC PHILOSOPHY, “FREE ENTERPRISE” IS FAMILIAR TO US, BUT WHAT IS “ENTERPRISE” ITSELF? A typical dictionary might say something like this: “industrious systematic activity.” But enterprise is more than an activity; it is the spirit or attitude that motivates such activity. The attitude is often related to profit-making, but it can be seen in a wider sense as well. I suggest there are four or five interesting characteristics of the enterprising person.
Goal orientation. Those who are enterprising have formulated clear goals that strongly direct the way they spend their time. And not only that, but their goals tend to be imaginative and venturesome. They are looking to do much more in life than play it safe.
Initiative. Enterprising individuals are self-starters. They don’t have to be held by the hand and encouraged to get busy. Active rather than passive, they can often be described as bold. They go out to meet life head-on because they are stirred by aspiration and hope.
Energetic effort. Enterprise is a hard-working trait. The enterprising are industrious and earnest in their endeavors. They build their lives on the principle that if a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing well. They will get up early and stay up late working on their goals.
Systematic effort. To be enterprising, one must not only “work hard” but also “work smart.” These are the folks who are eager to learn how to accomplish their goals in the most advantageous way. They are eager, inquisitive students of the “best practices” in their line of work.
These four characteristics are crucial to success in nearly every endeavor. Whether the goal is economic or not, being enterprising is important if we wish to go places that are worth going to in life. But enterprise has a fifth characteristic, and I have deliberately saved it until last: enterprising people take personal responsibility for their goals. They don’t wait for someone else to improve their lot. They understand what the fellow meant who said, “Go, wake up your luck.”
“Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him” (Dwight D. Eisenhower).