Reflections on a ‘Do Good Better’ World

How is what you learned in this class unique to you?

I believe that this class’s approach to learning is EXACTLY what the world needs right now. In the sphere of social innovation, this is how its students ought to be thinking. I learned that the structure of learning is vital to the success of our society. As I’ve previously voiced in class, I believe I’ve found my unique niche—or at least the goal of where I’d like to start heading in the next 5-10 years.

I knew nothing of social innovation or social entrepreneurship before this class. When I began learning about the possibilities of the Ballard Center and the general concept of ‘social entrepreneurship’, I was quite excited, believing to have found the crossroads/intersection of all the things I wanted to do (my passions): Business, Humanitarian Aid, and Advisement/counseling. It finally felt like I could achieve all three. Before taking this class, I had the desire to ‘do good’ in the world, but no real tangible idea or plan on how to go about doing it. As Alex once voiced, “I wanted to do good, I wanted to help out… but I was 50-50 that it was actually going to happen. If the occasion presented itself, I’d definitely follow it. But if it didn’t, I’d pursue whatever other career path did.” I was the same. However, after being in this class, I’m converted. I no longer can be satisfied thinking that I might do good. I am no longer satisfied thinking that the occasion may present itself. I have learned that I enable the occasion, that I can actively bring it out wherever I choose to be. I have to pursue this field. It’s just a part of me that resonates. It’s innovative thinking, mashing-ups of ideas, business principles, etc . etc., all centered on meeting the world’s social needs. This, in my mind, is the purpose of why businesses should exist. This, in my mind, is why we are given the minds and ideas we have. Better still—I discovered that I’m NOT a social entrepreneur. That worried me for a time: I felt it. I gained a testimony. I heard the ideas and the champions and what it takes, and I wanted to be here, in this field. But I didn’t know quite if it was me… the type of person it takes to be the Social Entrepreneur. And Lanee kept encouraging us, and towards the end, really nailed it, that all of our skills and career paths, regardless what we do, could have an impact. I learned what a Social Intrapreneur is.

And I believe in the words she said shortly thereafter: “We need Masses & Masses of intrapreneurs.” This is what brings me to what is most unique for me for my takeaway from this class, that (1) I desire to BE a social intrapreneur my whole life, regardless the specifics of the field I enter; I must. And (2)  my desire to educate and raise awareness for the younger generation concerning this movement. We need masses of intrapreneurs: people who think differently, creatively, for a purpose. We need people within organizations, knowing the ins and outs of the field they are in and the unique language therein and have real relationships already established, etc. etc. and have that passion for making a difference and doing good. Can you imagine if we could harness all the ideas and minds of students of social innovation who began their exposure to the subject at the high school level? What new insights might they bring to us? All with varying aspirations and backgrounds and inputs and stimulus from the media and whatever other exposure they have to ideas, oh the potential outputs and mash-ups and creative solutions their minds could create! If only we could give them a reason to do so, to channel their efforts and give them purpose. I am very interested in this class’s research and data; I would like to apply much of the same principles to high schools throughout the country, Think of the potential to be harnessed! Just think, what if we could change the mindset of why we even get an education: not to prepare us to merely find some routine job to make our way in this life, but to make a difference and start solving real, social problems. And it wouldn’t just be ‘in the future.’ It would be now. I want to see this happen, and it is all because of this class and the passions it has instilled in me. I’ve seen it instilled in other ways my peers as well: we share a similar heat and burning for the subject, unique to each of us. I believe the same feeling will happen for a good number of students whoever really get to spend some contact with the subject: social innovation.

And, a brief word (I had hoped to expound, but seeing as I’m already encroaching on the word limit) regarding the midterm and final: these were, by far, the most unique exams I’ve ever taken. The structure of this class was such that we, the students, we empowered. We’d research, have prompts, and then have discussions—great discussions, which would be full of passion, testimony, and inner questions. This cultivated an atmosphere of such magnificent learning such as I have never before experienced in an educational setting. We weren’t learning for a teacher or for a class; we were learning for ourselves, and what it meant to us, personally. This made the midterm especially exciting: we were asked to pick a potential social problem locally, and then conduct enough research and mapping out of the processes to begin solving it. This was pure hands on genius. I gained more through this experience than any other final I’ve ever taken—all because of the initiative it took, and how invested I became in my project. As for the final, what better way to get started on the real thing, and taking all your passions from studying and discussing together for an entire semester, than to find a mentor, and have them coach you through your passions and potential plan of the future. It required going a little out of your comfort zone, and seeking real council from people who have gone before, ideally in a place you’re hoping to get; it was expanding your network and expanding your vision. It was a very insightful experience.

How will you continue this process of self-reflection and layered learning?

I intend to continue this process of self-reflection and layered learning through a process I like to think of as the Rock Wall vs. Ladder. In the latter, one tries to move up and reach a point through a set of defined rungs, all straight, going straight up. For me, this approach is not how I desire to go about achieving my goals. I see it as thus: I have created a plan, or better said, an accounting of self (which I will address in a moment). Based off of this accounting, I know generally the places things I want to achieve. There are many potential places that could fulfill a number of the passions of mine from this accounting: how do I possibly choose which one to pursue? I just… do it. Pick one. For example, this next semester I’m taking an internship with the Academy for Creating Enterprise. Is it going to be everything I’ve always wanted? Probably not. But will it be valuable? Absolutely! And will I be happy? I’ve identified it as encompassing many of the things which I desire to do, so yes, it will be. That, in my analogy, is a rock on the rock wall. It’s rock climbing. There are so many options: which rock is right? Which do you choose? In all honesty, you just pick one, and work with it. There’ll be some great things to each rock and things to glean and learn. You might not like it entirely, but it got you somewhere, and you gained new experiences, insights, and skills (even if through adversity!). Then, simply, you pick a new rock of your liking… and you keep going. Up and up and up (sideways, back down a little… but you keep moving). I believe this is how I will be with my entry into this field of Social Innocation: I’ve got so many new ideas now… time to test them out, one at a time, reformulate my goals and opinions all along the way, and keep trying my ideas and places I want to be.

I have begun a process that I think is absolutely essential to anyone who really wishes to make some progress in deciding what they want to do with their life, and how they’re going to be happy. It struck me with an article we once read, and also through some activities we’ve had in class. Namely, it is, as I’ve mentioned, taking an accounting of self: Who am I? How do I learn? How do I work? Where do I belong? What can I contribute? What are my strengths? What do I love? If we take the time to do this, actively, and sit down and really try and describe ourselves and our passions and draw a picture of who we are… then all of a sudden, there are so many things you could do, and end up being happy (and lots of places you could try along the way, and always be happy), so long as you judge everything you do by this list. As long as it contains some of these aspects, you know you’ll enjoy it for the most part. That’s my plan of action. That’s how I’m going at this movement. And now I’m tackling the question: what does the world need?