Nothing in Life Happens by Accident!



So many people spend their life led by the view that “this is the way it’s always been and is the only way,”… doing things right rather than doing the right things.  We limit ourselves by refraining from doing what we desire to do … by doing things that we are able to do rather than doing those things we are passionate about … those things that come naturally to us … those things we were born with the talents to do.

Increasingly, we are developing nations of drones, otherwise known as employees, who do what they are capable of doing most often without passion and without purpose. We are even educating our graduates to go into a world that doesn’t have the jobs suited to their leaned skills. We plod through life taking any job space that is unfilled, doing what we do because we must if we are to survive. Sadly we go along as though we are somehow unable to do anything about it.

Today, society at large today tends to marginalize women, demonize the elderly, ridicule the disabled, and feel somehow responsible for shouldering the problems that plague low income and poverty-level families and we talk endlessly about education, employment and living standards.  This ever deepening socio-economic downward spiral in which the world seems to currently find themselves, however, there are lights going on – there is a glimpse of hope in those who recognise the evolution revolution that seeks release.

There is, at this very moment, a change in perspective taking place that governments, entrenched bureaucrats and corporate greed cannot stop. There is change – a paradigm shift – moving steadily forward that will shake the very foundation upon which our seemingly coveted systems – from business to education to government itself – are built. This change is well underway and is being embraced by those people in the groups mentioned above. It was noted Social Scientist, Alvin Toffler, who said, “Those who resist change are doing something equivalent to scrambling to find deck chairs on the Titanic.” Change affects us all in matters of life and work and with regard to the very social fabric of our lives.

People are waking up and rather than relying upon our governments or our media to think for them, they are thinking and creating for themselves.  This is no accident.

Everything that happens, happens for a reason – up to and including the global socio-economic state of affairs.  We each make choices every day … how to think, feel, act or react.  It’s simple really. We make choices and things happen. Do accidents happen? Of course.  My experience to date, however, has lead me to the inescapable conclusion that my life is no accident and that everything that has happened – past, present, and future – happened for a reason and is rooted in my choices. Why things – both good and bad – happen are a mirror of my own perception of all that I am and all that I know and don’t know.  Do I know who I am and the impact my presence and my choices make on this world?  Not always, but I live to learn more.

It is my choice then… and one that you can make for yourself too.  It is no accident that you are who you are and all that surrounds you. Whose life are you living? Whose body are you walking about in? Whose mind do you use?  For whose purpose are you living on this earth?

“NO,” I hear you say, “my life is a series of unfortunate accidents!” The word that leaps to mind is – resistance! “I can’t do this and I can’t do that … I am a victim of circumstance. I am controlled by my job, my boss, my partner, my kids, my elderly parent … they all control me.”

The truth is … everything in life is a choice and every choice carries with it a cost. The way we think, feel, and act on or react to life’s circumstances holds the key to releasing whatever bonds we have placed upon ourselves.  Our responsibility to own our life path is our greatest challenge … and the responsibility to own my ‘accidents’ as well.   Ownership … if we are to change what is into what I would like things to be … has to be firmly accepted and embedded in our mind, heart and body as the shift will impact everything – not just in a material way but in a truly fulfilling emotional and socially committed way.

If we accept that our life path is not an accident, we can start to discover the steps we need to take along the way to make the transition mentioned above.  They are there … they just remain covered up at this point in time. If, however, you begin trying by taking steps without planning, if you are logging junctions, measuring the mileage, or setting the final destination, you will block the flow of set aside for chance, fate, karma and destiny and you will never know anything beyond that act of ‘trying’ … which could easily lead to your giving up.

A reasonably long-term advocate of the “there are no such things as accidents” school of thought for much of my life, the last two years have definitely taught me that ‘accidents don’t just happen … life does. That said, it makes complete sense that we are the beneficiaries or victims of the choices we make and it is certain that the choices are ours.

The many faces of Pauline CrawfordSome 3 years ago I was living a good life, as such, but growing sticky and threadbare emotionally.  The steps I took were always positive, upbeat … taken with a certain trusting courage, but still I did not feel totally fulfilled.  I was on my own yet surrounded by loving, caring family and friends.  My passion for a strong, intimate and complete family life was dinted by being divorced 15+ years and without any current sign that my unattached status would change anytime soon. I was content with my life but with the realization that I was not necessarily happy. I was certain, however, that it would evolve into the dream I had set the intention to realize only a few years prior. That dream was one of companionship, partnership, deep love and collaboration and yet … I did not yet have that on a personal level.  I was sure that my life would work out that way… yet it seemed to be taking an inordinately long time manifesting itself.  I never gave up and yet my will was dinted more than once as I passed each birthday … 60 … 61 … 62. But then my life changed … but was it by accident?

Over the course of the last two years, I ‘accidently’ met the man who is today my husband. Jim – from the USA – and I met him in a country foreign to both of us. More interesting perhaps is the fact that neither wanted nor planned to attend the business conference that we found ourselves participating in. And that was just the beginning.

I ‘accidently’ managed to stay connected via Skype and email over 6 months (and 45,000 words) and flew to the U.S. to visit him in May 2012. In October 2012 we were married just 9 months after meeting. We have since survived his two major surgical procedures, relocation from one country to another, a major change in both cultures and life styles and yet we continue on a path that has enough twists and turns to make it sound like pure fiction. Still we are here, we are together and we are moving forward.

malaysiaOur life is a living novel that is being written in real-time. Having spanned the world with our love, one might think that we ‘accidently’ travelled between the USA and UK many times, and ended up in Malaysia, after an ‘accidental’ visit there in May of this year. Since then amazing people have appeared from our past and in our present and we know they will be part of our future. Each appeared in our lives at the right time and in the right place for us to continue to live and pursue our dream.

So let’s look at this realistically. Absolutely nothing happened by accident.

Jim and I both had a dream to meet our respective soul mate and to create together a mutual vision for the world. We both had felt the possibility was fading as we approach the ages of 62 and 68 respectively. Our joint vision, if you will, was to work and live with our intimate partner, to create not just wealth but a truly healthy, beneficial lifestyle.  One determining factor for us was embedded in the fact that when we met and consequently fell deeply in love, we knew in our hearts that it was no accident.

We recognised each other in some instinctive way.  We had both been going through similar twists and turns in life even though we 1017156_10152051646002222_356049556_nwere half a world apart.  We tuned into each other as friends and never doubted we were meant to be together.  Uniquely we discovered we had complementary expertise about entrepreneurial education that completed our mutual vision.  One half meeting another at many levels.  Since making our commitment to each other and a mutually meaningful goal, we have had huge obstacles seemingly placed in our path health wise, wealth wise, and just ‘yes we want to live together as husband and wife’ visa-wise! Still we have never doubted we are on the right path even when we have not known what the next steps might be. When that happened we simply waited patiently to see them revealed to us.

Living by accident can be incredibly draining, and causes constant uncertainties and fear of worsening circumstances.  When we see that life is no accident, we can own our own journey whether unaccompanied or with another. We believe that you need to let unconditional love enter your life, whether for a partner, a peer, a friend or foe. Love helps you accept and own both the ups and downs of the day-to-day.  You need to choose to know that your life is your own whatever the past, present or future holds.

Whatever the reality is, it is meant to be because you made the choice for it to be so.  Jim and I firmly believe that. I am not saying that such acceptance is easy because judgments, impatience and/or complacency have the potential to become entangled in one’s daily discourse. We are, however, living proof that it is not only possible but ultimately advantageous to accept life as it unfolds before you … as it unfolds as you chose it to do.

If the world’s people, at large, adopted a similar viewpoint – if each of us would take ownership of our share of the current ‘accident’ we refer to as the economic crisis – things could be vastly different. We – collectively – have the potential to end poverty, raise the global standard of living and make social mayhem and discord a thing of the past. Perhaps the simple act of allowing people to realize, develop and demonstrate their own value, their personal passion and their natural talents, we would begin to see a new world at play in both our homes and in the workplace.  Joy might just become the end result of the happy ‘accident’ of living life with love, knowing our own value and creative fulfilment!

For Jim and I, our coming together and discovering our mutual passion for a new way to educate entrepreneurs of all ages is no accident…

 … let me explain about “Education for Creative Living”

Tsunesaburo Makiguchi

In 1944, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, a relatively unknown Japanese educator and visionary, died in a Japanese prison near the end of World War II.  He was a passionate advocate of changing the educational system making taking it from educating drones for the industrial war effort toward value creation education. He wrote an inspiring book published in 1930 not only calling for the above stated change, but suggesting a well thought-out comprehensive plan for doing so. He believed profoundly in the creative nature of all people, particularly children. His core belief was that by helping young people realize, develop and magnify their natural talents, free of the constraints and demands placed upon them by prevailing educational system – an archaic system, even then, industrialised by well-meaning academicians and perceived governmental needs – they would intuitively create a better life for themselves and, by default, the community at large. Mr. Makiguchi was convinced that the simple act of allowing people to create their life from within themselves would result in greater advantages and benefits for all concerned. It was certainly better, he would argue, to add value to education rather than continuing to educate people to fill the arbitrary and somewhat capricious needs of industry. Industry’s and government’s needs would be satisfied naturally by those with the desire to become part of those aspects of Japanese life.

He taught in Japan at the turn of that century and he saw how rote teaching inhibited his pupils’ creativity.  The government did not support his hypothesis and rather than allow him to continue his quest, he was taken into custody and imprisoned for more than 17 months … dying before he could be released.  Over the centuries, there have been others like him … others who see weaknesses in systems … weaknesses that are ignored … questions that remain unanswered. To this day the educational model remains the same, and we have yet to implement a system allowing us to release our true creativity.

Much of the educated world today still teaches by rote – across the USA, UK and in many other developed and developing nations. In rote learning, where examination passes are deemed gold-plated credentials, we constrain our natural talent and systemically force students on the path to become another worker … another employee. Once we have made that commitment, we spend the balance of our life doing what we can do while denying our passion … denying what we truly want to do.

Makiguchi realised that if we were to unblock the natural flow of life, allowing people to enjoy developing their own true talent – valuing personal creativity from birth into and through adulthood – he would need to develop a new educational model that would focuses on education for creative living rather than education creating increasing numbers of employees for a shrinking jobs market.  It is no accident that we are now seeing huge numbers of graduates unable to get the job they wanted, and escalating numbers of unemployed because there are simply not enough jobs – any jobs – for those who want them.  Appropriate socio-economic development has been constrained by education rather than set free to bring prosperity to everyone.

Value CycleThere is a Law of Unintended Consequences, which, in my mind, explains that nothing is an accident.  It states that whatever one does deliberately causes other things to occur unintentionally.   The world has experienced, over more than two centuries, what a now outmoded education system can create. The unintended consequence is that for the past 50+ years we have needed a new education. A model not necessarily to replace as much as a new model to, at the very least, offer a choice, focused on the student not the system.

We know what rote learning can accomplish. Now we need to develop a different outlet for bright and creative minds wanting to break away from that unnatural way of thinking. In the last half century, some examples of the bright entrepreneurial minds we are referring to, have broken free and literally created a new world. What we need now is an education model that will encourage and facilitate these entrepreneurs, allowing them the freedom to create a new world of possibilities; i.e. being your own boss – doing something with passion, with deep love, commitment and meaningful purpose – at last fulfilling one’s creative abilities and realizing the human potential to live a healthy, wealthy life.

The ‘accident’ of growth in SMEs across the world is happening right now in vast numbers, young, old, men, women … all desiring the manifestation of their dream – building their business for “creative living”.  This time let us not make the same mistakes by building constraints into our model – elements of failure that constrain that natural creative power each person has to one degree or another.  A paradigm shift in education is needed.  Career and life cannot be separated anymore.

SMEs and one-person enterprises are and will continue to change the way we work and live today at a global level. They will transform our communities and uplift individuals of any age.  This is no ‘accident’ and – for Jim and I – the growth and expansion of our entreprenological approach to education – assisting raw talent in the creative/innovative bid to build a fruitful business – is possible here and now in Malaysia – ripe for picking!

IUE logoOur unintended consequence of being in love yet running out of VISA time in the USA and the UK, brought us to Malaysia this past May in order that we might discover the potential to change our life forever.  Jim and I are not here by accident! Watch this space!!!!!



So you want to be your own boss?

Dr Pauline CrawfordNowadays the buzz word in education and business is ‘entrepreneurship’ and the number of would-be entrepreneurs is rapidly changing both economically and socially.  Young adults exiting university after or prior to graduation are putting ‘being an entrepreneur’ at the top of the list.  As much as 20% of students at major universities like Yale in the U.S. or Cambridge in the U.K., for example, aspire to become successful ‘entrepreneurs.’  Men and women, old and young can potentially become an entrepreneur.  The problem is, however, that the characteristics of the successful entrepreneur are – by the very nature of entrepreneurship – largely unknown and difficult if not impossible to accurately pin down.

Over 40 years ago, my husband’s father presented, for the first time ever, the framework of a new discipline titled ‘entreprenology’ – and it was his wife who coined the word. He knew from his experience as a successful entrepreneur and as a respected and tenured professor in the College of Business at the University of Hawaii, that there was more to creating, sustaining, and managing a successful start-up than could taught through any traditional educational institution of higher learning.  Entrepreneurial enterprises in every sector had broken away from the rigours superimposed by traditional corporations and were creating a truly expansive ‘entrepreneurial mindset’…. 40+ years later the buzz continues.

Men and women in every age group are now considering being their own boss.  They see it as preferable to the restrictions and regulations that define corporate careers. They want the opportunities that open new choices for self-sustainability and perhaps untold riches.  Even the mature adult in their silver years (55+ as a working definition) are continuing on an entrepreneurial path into their 70s and beyond.  We will address this phenomenon specifically a little later.

Nowadays entrepreneurship is ‘taught’ in virtually every university and college where there is a business school or program.  Yet teaching ‘entrepreneurship’ effectively is the single most difficult hurdle to overcome and one that virtually every conventional school, college and university, cannot overcome. Why?  Because the skills that took Sir Richard Branson or Bill Gates or Steve Jobs to the pinnacle of success simply cannot be taught. Becoming an entrepreneur is not something that everyone can or even should aspire to. For every reason you can think of to become ‘your own boss,’ we can give you a reason that you should not.

The classic argument regarding entrepreneurs poses the question “Is the successful entrepreneur made or is he/she born?”  Can the skills needed to become a successful entrepreneur be taught or are they innate?  The study of what causes one person to succeed and another fail has been, and continues to be, quite elusive.  One thing we do know, however, is that there is no test, the results of which will shed any light on the subject. In our experience, which now spans more than forty years, we have learned that the most critical skills – if the desire is to eventually know success – are those that cannot be taught in any traditional or conventional institution of higher learning.  You either possess these skills – natural, intrinsic or inherent – or you do not.

Bill Aulet, Senior Professor at MIT, head of the Martin Trust Center for Entrepreneurship writes, “Teaching entrepreneurship is difficult because the subject itself is idiosyncratic, contextual and experiential. Unlike chemistry, math or computer programming, there are no definite answers in the start up world. By definition, entrepreneurs are doing the unknown and the untried, so there are no algorithms for success”

In recent review in the Wall Street Journal, Aulet continued along this line of reasoning saying, “Making matters worse, there is a limited amount of scholarship and data that exists on what makes start-ups succeed or fail. As a result, the intellectual and scholarly vacuum is often filled by anecdotes. We’ve all listened to a version of ‘It all started in the garage with $20.’ Entrepreneurs are prone to mythologizing the early days of their businesses, yet these stories mislead those who aspire to follow in their footsteps.”

Of course certain skills can be taught, as we have mentioned, and the entrepreneur needs some core skills in business in order to understand what the business is telling him or her.  One should also have a solid foundation of the product of service being marketed.  The rest, however, and the key or ‘the secret’ to success, if you will, can only be revealed by the simple act of DOING IT!  The most important things you will learn can only be learned through experience:

  • making mistakes,
  • analysing what happened,
  • learning why it happened,
  • asking for another’s perspective if need be, and
  • making the indicated course corrections.

In this way you will begin to develop the mind-set of the successful entrepreneur, or – as we refer to them –  the EMPLOYER.

What is evident, in so many university and college classrooms, is that what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur-employer can neither be learned by sitting at a desk in any traditional institution of higher learning, nor can it be taught by professors having no direct practical entrepreneurial experience of their own.  The key to success does NOT come from an inspirational or motivational speaker promoting mild hysteria with the line “If I can do it, so can you…just go and out and BE SUCCESSFUL.”  Professor Aulet himself confesses that he started teaching by exciting his students in that manner and although he was well received and highly rated by his students, he was unable to say that he was in any way responsible for educating successful entrepreneurs!

Many entrepreneurship programs make the mistake of teaching individuals to use their ‘entrepreneurial’ ability to be an employee …and indeed there is a place for employees within our corporate monoliths.  The true nature of an entrepreneur, however, is stretched when becoming an employer and helping create and encourage the employer mind-set is our mission.  We have spent more than forty years working to give birth to entreprenologists with the potential to rival the Sir Richard Branson, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs of the world … those who see an opportunity, have a creative idea and grow a business that employs others.  The rest … as they say … is history.

Having said that, it should be obvious that we can’t say that everyone who wants to be a successful entrepreneur will become the next manifestation of those mentioned above, but the possibility does exist.  There are always opportunities to be a successful.  Who can say with any certainty who will become the next successful entreprenologist to change the world with their product or service?  What we do know is that the possibilities increase day by day as the economic landscape of virtually every country in the world is changing the way business and life interlink.  So let’s embrace the nature of change as we explore the facts.

As business and life merge, technology sweeps us into new domains as social media connects us all. Changes occur through the shift from big business to the economic and social impact that multitudes of small and medium sized businesses create. Business is no longer separate to our life requirements.

For instance, 4.8 million people run SME’s (SME 99.2% – MSMEs 500 at 0.6%) and account for 99.9% of all businesses today. 75% of SMEs are one person businesses.  There are indeed very few major corporations yet all the attention of the City and Wall Street focus on them.  In the UK for SMEs accounted 59.1% of private sector employment and 48.8% of private sector turnover employees in the UK.  Entrepreneurship appears alive and well.

Further investigations provides more ‘food for thought’ about the nature of entrepreneurs, and we have found a significant group that my husband and I are particularly focused on, that of the mature ‘silver generation’ aged 55-75 – we are recorded as 33% of the SME market in the UK, around 1.6million aged over 55 years and many still growing strong profits in entrepreneurial businesses of over 15 years standing …the demographics of other countries, USA, Canada and EU countries tell a similar story.

Other factors affect entrepreneurship data.  For example more and more women enter the market as self-employed entrepreneurs running a small business, often from home to help support not just their pocket but their life style needs regarding families.  Nowadays technology and social media enable anyone to run a local or even global business from their kitchen table. The economic landscape has changed dramatically. An economic tsunami has arrived and an eager audience is flooding the education sector looking for ‘entrepreneurship’ programmes.  So what impact is entrepreneurship making on our world?  If, as we believe, it’s a major force for survival and growth, and for providing meaning for one’s life, then how do we provide appropriate educate for those who have the desire and the natural abilities to ‘be their own boss’?

This subject, as already mentioned, cannot be taught within tradition parameters – rote learning with single answer examination – by those having no practical entrepreneurial experience.  In point of fact, we don’t even have a widely accepted definition of what or who an ‘entrepreneur’ is.  Is every self-employed person or someone who sets up a barrow on the marketplace an entrepreneur? Is every micro enterprise entrepreneurial?  Given our research and experience the short answer is NO.  Further, we do not believe we should enrol students on a university entrepreneur program who have no idea what he or she even wants to do. We base this on the fact that any number of students who have earned their MBA have told us that they weren’t taught anything that they could use unless they wanted to be an employee in middle management in a large corporation.  In short – there was little of any value in their very expensive MBA program that they could apply in their start-up. In other words – their program was not real world applicable! How, then, do we find a way to help them unlock the skills that are un-teachable?   We introduce them to the Principles of Entreprenology – the art of entrepreneurship. We introduce them to the intuitive, creative nature of the person who not only creates a business, but creates employment for others as they expand their business reach across local, national and potentially global markets.

Sir Richard BransonPerhaps this is where we might find the next Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates or Sir Richard Branson or Steve Jobs … washing ashore in the SME tsunami that is currently beginning to roll across every economy. The lure of becoming a successful entrepreneur knows no age, no gender, no ethnicity, no physical limitations.  The entrepreneurs who ride the wave of the future are not restricted to any particular region because opportunity does not recognize boundaries.  The younger generation, the women who want to blend their business with family life, the mature ‘silver generation’ baby boomers who don’t want to retire…. each cohort respects the other as it moves appropriately forward without expecting praise or applause for doing the right things.

Changing time require new eyes according to Marcel Proust  “The real voyage of discovery consists not of finding new lands but of seeing the territory with new eyes”  

“Students are clamouring for instruction, but it’s hard. There are no algorithms for (entrepreneurial) success.”  Wall Street Journal Sept 2013