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Don't let the ________ grind you down

Taken from Acrobat, by U2 (circa 1991).

Don't let the bastards grind you down…

There is a moment (many moments) in business, of self-doubt and 'dark nights of the soul' where you question everything.

Why am I doing this? Is this just a waste of time? Was it a really bad idea to begin with? I'm out of ideas and I can't see a way forward… the dream is dead.

You're surrounded by brick walls. You wonder if you're a sell-out, a hypocrite, a fraud.

But there is also a moment where things begin to turn around if you hold on long enough. 

The song itself shifts tone with the line, in dreams begin responsibilities…

Sometimes the darkness is lit only by the dream. 

You have a responsibility to the dream.

You have a responsiblity to the idea, the backers, the people on the street, to yourself - to persevere. 

In dreams begin responsibilities…

Your idea and plan had merit when you began, stay the course. 
Dreams hold responsibility. You have a responsibility to yourself and your dream and your 'tribe' to persevere.

You know that the tide is turning 'round. So, don't let the bastards grind you down…

Don't let the critics grind you down.
Don't let the red-tape grind you down.
Don't let the doubt grind you down.
Don't let the fear grind you down.

What word would you place in the blank?

What grinds you down?

What is the greatest enemy to your dream?


--------

So that was 1991 and back then I was a fresh-faced teenager. But that understanding has continued in my approach to business and life. 

I had spent a number of years working with children and young people on the fringe and realised that traditional education was killing the entrepreneurial spirit and artistry of many kids. Kids who were misfits either because they had an intelligence not catered for by traditional academia or because they were 'too smart' and got bullied, were falling through the cracks. 

So I began to imagine an initiative that valued children as innovators, changemakers and entrepreneurs. More than understanding and applying financial and business literacy, but also enabling them to make a positive and practical difference through social business.

People told me that 10 year olds were too young to understand value proposition, channels, cost structure and social impact. I began to believe them.

But, as the song says, in dreams begin responsibilities and don't let the bastards grind you down.

After numerous attempts and 3 years of hitting my head against a brick wall, an opportunity opened up and the Academy for Young Entrepreneurs was born.

Still in its infancy, the Academy for Young Entrepreneurs (AYE) enables children (primarily 10 to 12 years of age) to activate and develop their ideas, skills and confidence by creating and operating their own micro-businesses that invest in pathways out of poverty for children around the world.

Ideas are conceived by the young entrepreneurs, tested for viability, and simple business plans are developed and pitched. The young entrepreneurs are then supported to develop and run their micro-businesses.

Underpinned by concepts of citizenship and philanthropy, nett profits are disbursed to child and education focused international development projects, as identified by the young entrepreneurs and local program delivery partners.

Had I let the dream die and the bastards grind me down, none of this would have been realised.

Here's a short video: http://vimeo.com/hopestories/aye

http://www.ayevillage.com

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