12 Ideas (Plus Two) Worth Spreading, Part 1October 1, 2013
How Instructional Design Can Help Solve ObamaCare’s ProblemsNovember 5, 2013
So,hopefully, last week’s 6 ideas (plus one) inspired you to try something new. Here are 6 more ideas (plus one) to keep the inspiration going.
- Know your strengths and be prepared to take advantage of the opportunities that come your way. Brenda VanLengen is an Emmy Award-winning women’s basketball analyst on Fox Sports. She talked about how to “take advantage of your advantage,” by carving your own path, knowing your strengths, and being prepared to say “Yes, I can,” when opportunity knocks.
Application: It’s easy to get so caught up in the minutiae of daily life—the tyranny of the urgent over the important—that we forget where we’re going. This talk was a good reminder that it’s up to each of us to chart our path and then take steps every day to prepare for the opportunities that will come.
- “If you don’t deal with your emotions, one day they’ll deal with you.” This quote is from the trendsetting poetry of J-Ivy, who talked about how words and self-expression can bring healing to the world. Another inspiring quote: “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for everything.”
Application: In the leadership development seminars I produce, we often include Emotional Intelligence sessions, which some people consider “touchy-feely.” J-Ivy’s quote is a good way to emphasize the value of dealing with emotions, especially for leaders.
- Slow down and think before acting. Walter Reap, the award-wining principal of Germantown Elementary School in Annapolis, MD, talked about “intellectual speed bumps”—objects, symbols, anything that slows us down and makes us think. When teachers complained that students were running in the hallways, Principal Reap could have yelled at the kids, stationed hall monitors, sent letters home to parents…. Instead, he placed in the middle of the hallway a statue of the school mascot, an eagle called Pioneer. When students saw the statue, they slowed down to take a look and then started to ask questions; from that arose a conversation that launched a great deal of learning. Mr. Reap’s student population is diverse and many live in poverty, which creates a number of challenges that can’t be addressed using the same old techniques. He’s used intellectual speed bumps to slow down and understand his students so the school can give them what they need.
Application: When people must comply with rules or standards, we need to look for ways to encourage and support that compliance, as opposed to trying to force it. Too often, managers adopt an authoritarian mindset of “making people do the right thing,” when maybe what’s really needed is a structure that makes the “wrong way” impossible, as well as tools and strategies that result in the desired behaviors and a conversation about why compliance matters.
- Good ideas don’t necessarily come from the experts. When 15-year-old Jack Andraka lost a close friend to pancreatic cancer, he discovered that there was no inexpensive and effective early-detection test that could have helped his friend. So he set out to develop one. He pitched his solution to 200 universities and got 199 rejections and one lukewarm “maybe it could work.” When he met with PhDs to explain his idea, they pointed out all the problems with his approach. Instead of being daunted, Jack addressed each problem meticulously and created a paper early-detection test for pancreatic, ovarian, and lung cancers which costs 3 cents. His solution has the potential to raise the survival rate for pancreatic cancer from 5.5% to almost 100%. And the test can also be adapted for early detection of numerous other diseases.
Application: New ideas are often met with doubt and suspicion, especially from the “experts.” If you believe in your idea, talk with your detractors and work through all the details to show how it can work. Also, if you’re looking for new ideas, talk to others, in addition to the experts.
- Where there’s a will there’s a way. When Nicole Lynn Lewis became pregnant in her senior year of high school, everyone wrote her off, assuming she’d take the typical path of teenage moms into menial jobs and poverty. Instead, she put herself through college while raising her daughter, and then went on to get a Master’s degree. Now, through her non-profit, Generation Hope, she helps teenage mothers get education and mentoring that will help them to create good lives for themselves and their children.
Application: It’s important to remember that the way things are is not the way they have to be. We have the power to solve many of the world’s problems. A problem can be an opportunity for a new business or product. By finding and solving problems that no one else is addressing, we can make a difference.
- Through technology, we can experience amazing adventures. Award-winning adventure filmmaker Elia Saikaly used technology to take kids around the world with him virtually as he summited five of the world’s seven highest peaks, including Mt. Everest. Through his not-for-profit, Finding Life, he “combines adventure, education, technology, film and charitable initiatives to inspire others to FIND their most meaningful LIFE and spark positive world change.”
Application: If a mountain climber can take us with him virtually to the summit of Everest, where else can technology take us to learn and inspire ourselves? Perhaps for leadership development, we could follow exceptional leaders virtually as they deal with their daily challenges. Perhaps new employees could follow more experienced ones to find out how things are done in an organization. Perhaps we could use “real-time expeditions” to offer virtual apprenticeships for those learning a craft, such as how to install technology.
This week’s bonus idea: Although this was technically a “business” conference, there were no signs of spreadsheets or statistical business data. Instead, we were greeted by young people playing music. The session started with a song, and ended with a saxophone solo. Chamber music and jazz musicians serenaded us during lunch. One presenter reached us through his poetry. All of this is a great reminder to look to the arts as we reach out to, inspire, and teach our learners.
If you’ve been inspired by any of these ideas, pass it on. Let us know how one idea led you to another idea and then to action. Share your ideas because they are also worth sharing.