I write and speak a lot about entrepreneurship, because my purpose and mission is to promote freedom.
I was recently asked whether my real focus is entrepreneurship or freedom, and I responded that they are the same topic. The other person in the conversation was surprised, but after we talked she seemed convinced.
I think a lot of modern people don’t automatically grasp the connection between ownership and freedom, but it is real. History is very clear on this point.
The reason for this is actually somewhat obvious. The central values of success in both arenas are almost identical.
Entrepreneurs succeed when they embrace and embody the values of initiative, innovation, ingenuity, integrity, frugality, tenacity and teamwork, among others. Remove any of these, and entrepreneurialism declines.
These are also precisely the values that are present when free societies flourish. Take these away, individually or severally, and freedom decreases.
Not every entrepreneur promotes freedom, of course, and some even make choices that are hostile to freedom.
But over time a large number of entrepreneurs are always necessary for societal success, prosperity, progress and widespread freedom.
Moreover, long-term exercise of these values tends to increase a person’s skill and understanding of both entrepreneurship and freedom.
One name for a person or group that exemplifies all of these values is, simply, “enterprising.” And enterprise drives both commerce and liberty.
Without voluntary enterprise no nation experiences great progress, and the most enterprising of people in any nation naturally engage in entrepreneurialism.
Take entrepreneurs out of a society, and enterprise disappears — along with innovation, progress and eventually freedom.
In contrast, put a large number of successful entrepreneurs in a struggling or enslaved society and they will inevitably risk everything to promote real change and freedom.
If they fail, at least the society tried to obtain freedom. If they succeed, freedom flourishes.
Sadly, as freedom in a society declines, people stop revering entrepreneurialism or encouraging their youth to embrace entrepreneurship as their life’s focus. This only speeds up the decline.
This is the current situation in modern America. As a result, now more than at any time over the past century, promoting entrepreneurship is a vital way to stand up for freedom. Moreover, unless entrepreneurship makes a significant comeback, freedom will eventually be lost.
Sadly, Washington seems committed to doing the exact opposite — consistently passing numerous regulations that increase the difficulty of entrepreneurial ventures.
The most important solution to this growing problem is to engage entrepreneurship and to teach it to the next generation.
This may seem like a simplistic viewpoint, but until we value free enterprise at a much deeper level (and help others do the same), our freedoms will continue to decline.
Oliver DeMille is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling co-author of LeaderShift: A Call for Americans to Finally Stand Up and Lead, the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.
Among many other works, he is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, The Coming Aristocracy, and FreedomShift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny.
Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.