Stories & Reflections
Pamela Hartigan, director of the Schwab Foundation, drew up a list of ten points common to people whose dissatisfaction with the world around them drove them to create their own work. I think that Pamela’s list reaches far beyond this new mechanism called “social enterprise” and can be applied to many of our everyday activities:
Impatience: those who seek their dream do not wait around for things to happen: they see yesterday’s problems as today’s opportunities. Their impatience often makes them change course, but this adaptation is what matures them.
Conscience: those who seek their dream know that they are not alone in the world and that each gesture has a consequence. The work that they are doing can change the atmosphere around them. By understanding this power, they become an active element in society, and this sets them at peace with life.
Innovation: those who seek their dream believe that everything can be different from what it is, but it is necessary to pick a path that has not yet been traveled. Although always surrounded by old bureaucracy, the comments of others, and the difficulties of penetrating an unexplored forest, they discover alternative ways to make themselves heard.
Pragmatism: those who seek their dream do not hang around waiting for the ideal resources to start their work – they roll up their sleeves and get to work. No matter how little progress is made, it increases their confidence and the confidence of those around them, and the resources eventually turn up.
Apprenticeship: those who seek their dream usually have a deep interest in some particular area that can reveal new solutions to old problems when looked at in detail. But this apprenticeship can only be achieved through practice and constant renovation.
Seduction: no-one can survive alone in a competitive world: those who are aware of this and seek their dream manage to interest other people in their ideas. And these people become interested because they know that they are in the presence of something creative, committed to society – and above all else, economically lucrative.
Flexibility: those who seek their dream have an idea in their head and a plan to turn it into something real. However, as they move forward they realize that they have to adapt to the realities of the world around them, and from that point on their social responsibility becomes an important factor in changing the environment. For example, in order to reduce the rate of child mortality in a given city, it is not enough just to care for the children’s health – one has to change the sanitary structure, the nutritional system and so on.
Stubbornness: those who seek their dream may be flexible in their ways but at the same time concentrated on their objective. On account of their innovative ideas and because they are always moving in unknown territory, they never say: “I tried, but it didn’t work.” On the contrary, they always seek all the possible alternatives, and that is why the results eventually appear.
Happiness: those who seek their dream undergo difficult moments, but are happy with what they do. The occasional confusion and mistakes have nothing to do with their inability, and they are capable of smiling when they make a mistake – because they know that they will be able to correct that mistake further ahead.
Contagiousness: those who seek their dream have the unique ability to make people around them realize that it is worthwhile following their example and doing the same thing. That is why they will never feel alone, even if from time to time they feel misunderstood.
Pamela Hartigan closes her study offering the example of a Brazilian, Fabio Rosa, who developed a system to use solar energy after seeing that his community was spending a lot on non-renewable fuel. Fábio’s work, which contains the ten points listed in the study, is now known all over the world, has “contaminated” large corporations, and will soon benefit millions of people in addition to contributing to preservation of the environment.
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