Providing Pathways Not New Ways for Change
“You are capable of more than you know. Choose a goal that seems right for you and strive to be the best, however hard the path. Aim high. Behave honorably. Prepare to be alone at times, and to endure failure. Persist! The world needs all you can give.” -E. O. Wilson
We love this quote at The Lewis Institute, and now 5 1/2 years into our journey this quote really speaks to us in terms of how we feel about the dilemmas facing our world. Now more than ever the world needs all we can give. The world is impatient for us to persist at our goals. The world needs people who act honorably, who reflect and who not only endure failure, but use failure as one of the most instructive learning experiences that we have available to us. If we listen, reflect and act differently we can change those things that need changing.
Change isn’t a spectator sport it requires action. “Acting our way into a new way of thinking not thinking our way into a new way of as acting” is a quote that was always used by Jerry Sternin, a friend and mentor who co-founded the Positive Deviance Initiative with his wife Monique Sternin over 25 years ago. They knew how to activate lasting change that redirected the trajectory of millions of people’s lives. Their theory of change was to identify those people within a system who were surviving and thriving and observe what behaviors they were employing to have more positive outcomes than others in that community. Then have those who were suffering observe and learn strategies to act differently for positive outcomes. It wasn’t just about knowing how to change, it was about knowing how to act differently for positive behavior change.
So many students have come through our doors, participated in our programs, reached out to us and our expanded networks because they are seeking pathways to make positive change. They have deep desire to challenge the status quo. They want to express their honorable instincts to do something greater and more meaningful to impact our world through the tools of business and entrepreneurship. Whether climate change, human rights, sanitation, healthcare, education, malnutrition, maternal and infant mortality, access to water, food insecurity etc. there are so many dilemmas our students care deeply about and are looking for pathways to make a difference.
Many believe that a pathway has to be a new way and we encourage all of you who want to activate change to look at what is working. Lasting change is happening and it is part of our job as change agents and social innovators to observe where it is succeeding rather than always creating the new new thing. Social Innovation is not just about the what, it is about the who and how. It is about the cultivation and reconfiguration of relationships and resources to produce positive outcomes.
It takes courage, radical curiosity, keen observation, empathy, and most importantly the ability to coalesce teams of teams in order to activate and sustain change. So, when you walk through our doors, and engage with us because you have a desire to make something better or challenge the status quo in a particular domain, we will always help you create a pathway. It might not be a new way and that is perfectly fine. In fact, maybe better.