I’ve been ambling around the social enterprise space for a while. It’s been at times exhilarating and at other times infuriating.
The exhilaration comes from that moment when a child gets a glimpse into her future. When a micro-entrepreneur decides that their fate is not determined by gender. When a leader is justifiably awarded with a major recognition for putting their community before their self interest.
It’s infuriating when we wax philosophical on our meaning in the context of other’s suffering. When bright people working on tough issues are treated as merely "do gooders” rather than critical actors in a socially dysfunctional world. When communities allow infighting to paralyze progress.
In all of this, however, I am struggling to find people serious about human development. We ignore the fact that every advancement in humanity has come through the continuous journey of learning another thing, every day. We seem to believe that people in poverty or people in corporations are simply robots. Tell them once, and it’s good enough. Show them once, and they should own the process. At ThinkImpact we learned that that isn't effective. To the contrary, there must be constant engagement. It's what sparked many of the ideas that led to Unleesh (unleesh.com).
Ever create a space for people to openly talk about their feelings, challenges and, worse, their knowledge gaps?
There’s a reason few ever show up to those opportunities. They ignore the need for direct engagement. For meaningful support. For guided, not chaotic, collaboration.
As we work to expand ThinkImpact opportunities for people share ideas and continuously learn I have to admit that I am stunned at how little follow through there is in this space. Everyone forgets most things, nobody wants to admit it. Trainers, teachers, social innovators, and CEOs all ignore it. But it doesn't have to be this way.
There’s no end to our deficiencies when we go unguided. Perhaps this is why mentoring has become such a hit. I’ve had plenty of young people call me with the question: Will you be my mentor? Rough opening.
We are struggling to find ways to meet people where they are, which is, sadly, falling behind. The world is speeding past us, and we anxiously seek silver bullet solutions to social problems. Human beings need to be treated as more than resources with value to be extracted. They need to be trained, nurtured, and continuously trained, again.
Imagine if everything you ever heard, read or watched was immediately available to you. You’d know an extraordinary amount. You would (if you were the only one with this power) win every trivia game, pass every test with ease, and you’d never miss a birthday. It sounds like pretty ideal, right?
Unfortunately, that’s not human. Nor should it be. We are dynamic, creative, flawed. It’s where our passion for life comes from. If we cease to be dynamic, we begin to become objects of the past. Relics. Lost.
We need to remember, the exhilarating and infuriating stuff of life comes because we have skin in the game. I feel something with social enterprise because I’ve put my heart into it and I’ve learned some profound lessons along the way.
Doesn’t everyone deserve a journey like that for their whole life?
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!