I finally surmounted the daunting task of resurrecting this blog plagued with figurative dust. Inspiration comes in threes, thanks to the renewed energy infusing our office from our newest cohort of University Innovation Fellows: Ed Finn, Hayfa Aboukier and Daniil Gunitskiy and three vignettes about inspiration.
At my undergraduate institution there was a vice president with a reputation for adopting students with aspirations of changing the world. I say adopting, because his guidance went beyond mentorship. He served as a connector, motivator, problem solver, educator and coach. As a result of his efforts, more students launched ventures, created community partnerships, applied for programs like Teach For America, and did so with a defined and resilient sense of purpose that will last a lifetime.
Every year he accumulated more students in his pack while maintaining ties with the students of years past. One would assume that eventually he would have to focus on current students and cut ties with graduates or to institute a moratorium of sorts. Even my math major self could not figure out how he avoided reaching some sort of tipping or saturation point.
In May 2006, as I posed for a graduation photo with this mathematical enigma, all I could think was, “We need more of him on every college campus, but he’s one in a million.”
What I’ve realized over the past five years is that although the world would be a better place if we replicated this individual, it takes more than one change agent to create a culture of collaboration and innovation, especially at a university with over 70,000 students to adopt.
We need a more networked, cyclical and sustainable version of the Pay It Forward model (“three big favors for three other people” who in turn help three other people) illustrated below and in this video. Instead of favors, why not partnerships, connections and problem solving?
Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 of Inspiration in Threes about how ASU’s Changemaker Central will launch this network in fall 2011.