How to Succeed in Business and Happiness Using an Amish Example
Why choose the Amish as an example for happiness and success?
We are using the Amish people as an example because for the most part these are the happiest people you could ever meet. They are passionate about what they believe. With large families to support they have also learned to use this passion in business.
The Amish are a religious group who believe in keeping life as close as possible to what it was right after they immigrated from Europe. It is their belief that being part of the grid is not for them. They keep themselves separate for the most part from the world around them.
They have no problems with friendships with people not of their faith. Those friendships though never run really deep. If ask a question they will either answer or defer you to their local leader. I know as much as I do about them because my stepfather lived next door to an Amish family, and when I lived there I asked questions of my Amish neighbor and any other Amish person I met. There is not a single one I talked to, that the information changed when I spoke with another. They don't allow pictures. This they believe promotes vanity. So I have no pictures of actual Amish people. The mother and granddaughter shown on this article are not Amish, the grandchild though had a nanny who is Amish.
If they choose to run a business they are successful because they learn well knowing their families depend on them. Community to them is important, each are raised as part of a tightly knit one. Keeping their geographic world unspoiled ranks high on their list.
Out of the mouths of babes
Babies and toddlers can teach us that we are born passionate enough to make our world better. From the time children are born they automatically let us know what they don’t like. More often than not let us know non verbally what they do.
During the terrible two’s they become verbally and with actions passionate about their likes and dislikes. Few if any parents or grandparents aren't aware of what these likes and dislikes are. At this time they believe they are the center of their universe.
None of these things are bad as long as they learn to temper their thoughts and actions. Amish parents start teaching Gestalt at this age. Gestalt means accepting authority as well as obedience.
When we become older many of us forget to pay attention to what makes us tick. We know what we like but won’t pursue it like we did as a child. Everyone who has remained passionate in my experience is either happy, successful, or both.
Innovation allowed as children
The structure of Amish life is different than that of others. They don't have toys which do everything for them. There is no television for those in the Amish religion. Time has to be filled with something so they learn to create their own games.
Creating requires innovation. Children learn to use this part of their brain more effectively than many who are raised in the "modern society." This creativity aids them if they go into business.
Where modern parents use the word (no) constantly, the Amish, unless a child is breaking religious rules hear it much less. They are encouraged to create about anything their heart desires. Amish children are taught to be subservient. This helps them later serve their customers if they go into business.
I saw examples of this when my neighbor visited. We were asked that our child not play with toys not allowed by their religion. My step daughter and the neighbors son would play outside for hours.
Beliefs and productivity
Following their beliefs keep them off the grid, which translates to they have no electric lines, telephone lines, or natural gas lines running to their houses or schools. If they want or feel they need something the grid provides the rest of the world they find a way.
They do this however within the confines of their beliefs. They make it happen without disobeying religious rules. This again requires creative thinking.
What lets them achieve is passion. When they figure out what they want, they passionately pursue whatever it is until they make it work. What they don’t know they learn from others in the community.
The people of the community and the person who is doing the innovating make time without taking from other things which they feel are required of, or otherwise important to them. Family is always foremost in their minds.
Their formal education setting by America’s standards today is over a hundred years outdated, and end at grade eight. Each school is a simple one room school house. The schools they attend have no running water, electricity, or indoor plumbing. In each case where a school exists the land was donated by a farmer. All Amish children use outhouses while in school. This I saw first hand. Many of the school houses I passed five days a week during the school year. My step daughters private school was 18 miles from where I lived.
Yet some of these people become millionaires and many others have a standard of living which in ways exceed the bulk of the American population. If they realize they are teaching their children both at school and at home to be business people is unknown. What a person needs to succeed in business is in reality taught to Amish children starting at age two.
Without their Religion and passion these people would have mainstreamed into the American culture years ago. This is something the leaders deal with daily. How do you give a people what they want without them becoming part of the modern world?
The freedom to choose
All Amish children are given the freedom to choose their own future. This also is something important to business people. Mainstreamed Americans take this for granted. Amish children are trained that they will be given a choice.
The training to make this choice starts around age eight. They know their future will be based on choices they make as teens. By the time they are teens they have already learned the values they need to succeed no matter what choice they make.
There is also a price to be paid for some choices which they are well aware of before they are given the freedom to choose. Very few make mistakes which cause them to leave their families and friends. The majority enjoy their time of freedom before choosing to become truly Amish. With the Amish becoming part of the religion by every member is made as a young adult. By that time they are able to make an informed decision, and to understand the costs if they decide not to become a member of the religion.
How does this example pertain to business
Happiness comes into play by our choices. It is possible to be in business and still have time for the things which make us happy. A business choice based on a passion in our lives increases our chances of happiness.
The ability to truly succeed is often helped by the community we create through our associations. Each day in business gives us new choices which can either enhance our business or hurt it. Customer service goes further to cut the cost of running a business than about anything else we can do.
Ninety five percent of Amish businesses remain open longer than five years. This is unheard of elsewhere almost worldwide. It is my belief the way they are raised has a large bearing on this. Because of their upbringing they learn to be creative, never give up, and treat others with respect.
The Amish religion began in America in Lancaster, PA. It is the main headquarters of the religion
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
© 2011 Dennis Thorgesen