The Trumpet of the Entrepreneur

Trumpeter Swan in Flight

Photo courtesy D Hutcheson

Over the Christmas break, my wife Dyan read the classic The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White to the kids. She was reading it as we drove to the Creation Museum on Saturday. I was suddenly struck by something as I was listening to the exploits of Louis the swan. It was really a rather strange thought considering that the book is a classic children’s novel.

What struck me was how much of the entrepreneurial spirit Louis exhibited during his journey. I know it sounds strange, but anyone who is pursuing the free agent lifestyle will certainly recognize these qualities while reading the book with this idea in mind.

First of all, he overcame obstacles. He was born without a trumpet voice. As a trumpeter swan, this was a huge deal. Through the support of his family though, he was able to overcome this. His father got a real trumpet for him to play. This became Louis’ passion and he gave it his all. Entrepreneurs should easily recognize these qualities. Most can point to obstacles that shaped who they are. Passion and the support of particular family members, friends, and mentors are all part of the typical free agent story.

During Louis’ journey, he also made sacrifices to achieve his goals. His father had stolen the trumpet that he played. In order to redeem the honor of his family and to make something of himself, Louis began to pursue various trumpeting opportunities. This allowed him to earn money to repay his father’s debt. He did not always enjoy what he did, or who he worked for, but he did what was necessary to achieve his goal. He never allowed himself to sell out though, and retained his dignity through it all. Again, anyone who has pursued a passion and a dream can identify with the sacrifices made in pursuit of a worthy goal.

One of the primary comparisons between Louis and the typical free agent spirit was his dream. To be successful you need to have a dream and a goal that is worth fighting for. Louis had a few. First of all was to redeem his family honor and repay the debt for the trumpet. Secondly, there was a female swan that he loved and wanted to be with. He did the things he did in order to be worthy of her love. Finally, he had the dream of being free and living out his life as he pleased, where he pleased. This included the desire to return to where he was born where he could live in peace and quiet. Every entrepreneur needs to have this overarching dream that makes it all worthwhile. No matter what is happening in the current moment, the dream is alive and worth fighting for. No small thing has the power to create that kind of desire.

I was so impressed by Louis’ unwavering pursuit of his goals. In spite of the great money he was making, his only desire was to achieve his goals and dreams. The money itself held no power over him. It was only a means to an end. We could all learn from this. In the end, the fight was worth it, and his dream was achieved. The price he paid was worth the reward.

I highly encourage everyone to read this story. Yes, it’s a children’s story. That’s even better though because hopefully you can instill these values in your children and they can learn the value of having a dream and pursuing it. Creating a legacy should be the goal of every free agent.