EntrepreneurPsychology

November 2023

What does Wolverine teach us about entrepreneurs?

Boy reading a book. Does education help entrepreneurs?

Was Wolverine born or made?

When we ask this question what we really want to explore is whether his abilities were part of his nature or nurtured over time.

It just so happens my son shares Wolverine’s real name and so this is a question we ponder from time to time.

Who is Wolverine? click here

Nature - Wolverine's mutant abilities

Wolverine possesses mutant abilities due to his genetic makeup.

He has adamantium-laced bones and retractable claws, which are part of his innate mutant powers.

These traits are inherent and are a result of his genetic mutations, representing the “nature” side of the debate.

His regenerative healing factor, another inherent power, allows him to recover from injuries rapidly, making him nearly immortal.

Nurture - character development & choices

Despite his extraordinary mutant abilities,¬†Wolverine’s character development and choices represent the “nurture” aspect.

Throughout his life, he has faced moral dilemmas, made tough decisions, and grappled with his identity.

His upbringing, experiences, and the influence of mentors and friends, like Professor Xavier and the X-Men, have played a significant role in shaping his character. 

Wolverine’s sense of morality, his choice to use his powers for good, and his internal struggles are nurtured aspects of his persona.

What has this got to do with entrepreneurs?

Can anyone thrive as an entrepreneur?

The age-old debate about whether entrepreneurs are born or made has been a source of fascination for years.

Some argue that entrepreneurial traits are inherent, while others believe that anyone can develop the skills and mindset to flourish as an entrepreneur.

"Entrepreneurs are born"

The “nature” argument suggests that some individuals are genetically predisposed to be entrepreneurs.

Proponents of this view often point to personality traits such as risk-taking, self-confidence, and a penchant for innovation as inherent qualities.

Some key points from the nature perspective are –

1. Personality Traits
Certain personality traits like high tolerance for risk, resilience, and adaptability are often associated with successful entrepreneurs. These characteristics, proponents argue, are either present from birth or developed very early in life.

2. Innate Creativity
Entrepreneurship often involves creative problem-solving, and some individuals may have a natural aptitude for generating innovative ideas and solutions.

3. Family Background
Some believe that a family history of entrepreneurship may influence an individual’s predisposition toward entrepreneurship. Growing up in an entrepreneurial environment could instill a sense of risk-taking and business acumen.

4. Cognitive Abilities
Certain cognitive abilities, like critical thinking and decision-making, might be more pronounced in individuals with a genetic predisposition for entrepreneurship.

"Entrepreneurs are made"

The “nurture” argument contends that entrepreneurs are made through a combination of education, life experiences, and mentorship.

It suggests that entrepreneurship is a skill that can be developed and honed over time.

Some key points from the nurture perspective are –

1. Education and Training
Many entrepreneurs acquire their business knowledge through formal education or specialised training programs. They learn about business concepts, marketing, finance, and management.

2. Mentorship and Guidance
Mentorship from experienced entrepreneurs can be instrumental in helping aspiring entrepreneurs learn the ropes and gain valuable insights.

3. Adaptation
Life experiences, including failures and setbacks, can teach individuals to be resilient and adaptable. Entrepreneurs often learn from their mistakes and build on their experiences.

4. Skill Development
Entrepreneurial skills, such as networking, leadership, and negotiation, can be acquired and improved through practice and continuous learning.

The reality - it's a dynamic relationship

The debate about whether entrepreneurs are born or made often misses the mark because it oversimplifies a complex reality.

In truth, it’s a combination of nature and nurture that shapes an entrepreneur.

1. Genetics and Personality
It’s undeniable that some people have inherent personality traits that align with entrepreneurship. But even if you’re not born with all the traits, you can develop and enhance them through self-awareness and personal growth. For instance, if you’re naturally risk-averse, you can work on building your risk tolerance over time.

2. Learning and Education
Formal education and training programs provide a solid foundation for aspiring entrepreneurs. They equip individuals with the knowledge and skills necessary for business success. Many entrepreneurs have taken this path to acquire the expertise needed to start and run successful ventures.

3. Experience and Adaptation
Life experiences, including failures and successes, play a significant role in an entrepreneur’s journey. These experiences can be powerful teachers, leading to the development of resilience, adaptability, and problem-solving skills.

4. Mentorship and Guidance
Having a mentor or advisor who has “been there, done that” can be a game-changer. Mentorship can accelerate your learning and provide invaluable insights, helping you avoid common pitfalls.

While some individuals may have certain inherent traits that make entrepreneurship come more naturally, anyone with the determination and willingness to learn can become an entrepreneur.

It’s not a question of nature vs. nurture, but rather a matter of how these elements interact and blend to shape the entrepreneurial journey.

How does a mentor help?

Entrepreneurship is a path that's open to anyone who is willing to embrace its challenges, learn continuously, and persist in the face of adversity.