The Future is Scary
Jim Correll, director Fab Lab ICC at Independence Community College, Independence Kansas
A coworker, about my age, once said to me “When we grew up in the 1960’s and 1970’s, we wanted to change the world. We don’t challenge these students today to change the world.” It’s time we challenge today’s students to change the world. They’re up for the challenge. A few years ago, we invited 250 area high school students to town for what we called the ICC College Planning Conference. I believe about 180 came. I was privileged to be asked to provide the welcome on behalf of ICC and speak a bit about Fab Lab ICC. I challenged these young students to change the world.
“The future is scary. I’m sure many of you have wondered just what the world will be like when you finish school and go about the business of making a life for yourself. You are not alone. Nearly every generation has faced a scary future. Those living during the Civil War, then World War I, then the stock market crash of 1928 and the Great Depression of the 1930’s; all of them wondered what the future would hold. Add to that list World War II and the Korean War. I assure you I wasn’t alive during any of those times, but I do remember the Viet Nam war. I barely missed being drafted but I remember the tragedy and anxiety it caused at home. Then, there was the Cold War for nearly three decades until the late 1980’s, a situation where, all through school, we worried about two super-powers blowing up the whole world with nuclear weapons. Today we have terrorism and conflict around the globe, especially in the Middle East and increasingly at home. Most recently, the specter of a Cold War of nuclear weapons has resurrected itself.
“Yes, the future has always been scary, but there’s one difference between all those previous generations and you young people right now. Everyone in this room has the opportunity to change the world and solve the problems that are sure to plague our future. In the past, the individual didn’t have much opportunity to really change the world, so we have relied on governments to solve the problems of our social condition. You may not have noticed, but governments are not very good at solving problems. The real solutions are going to come from people like you. Technology and the Internet have leveled the playing field so that anyone anywhere can change the world.
“So, what does it take change the world? It takes a mindset. At ICC, we call it Entrepreneurial Mindset. Entrepreneurs have a special way of looking at problems as challenges that need to be solved. They are very good at coming up with creative solutions. Whether you go into business for yourself or choose a career working for others, you’ll need an Entrepreneurial Mindset in order to be the best problem solver. Easton LaChappelle has an Entrepreneurial Mindset. Easton grew up in tiny Mancos, Colorado and in about 2010 when Easton was just fifteen years old, he decided there should be a better, less expensive prosthetic hand. With no experience and starting in his bedroom, over the next five years Easton developed a robotic hand that can be controlled by thought emanating from a $100 head band available at Amazon.com. In January 2015, he released his design to “open source” so others could build on it. That changes the world.
“No matter what you do with your life, it should be about solving problems for others. With the right mindset, you can build a life of helping others while doing something you really like and are really good at. This is true whether you have been labeled a gifted student or a troublemaker. The world needs you to solve problems.
“We built Fab Lab ICC to help develop Entrepreneurial Mindset and what David Kelley at Stanford University calls Creative Confidence. If you spend a couple of years with us at ICC before you continue your journey into the world, we’ll help you develop the type of thinking and confidence you will need to be successful no matter what your interest; business, the arts, science, medicine, public service, or even the ministry. You study the disciplines you like while we also help you develop the mindset and confidence you need to change the world.
“You won’t find anywhere else in the world where you can attend a school like ICC with small classes and personal attention and yet have access to a world-class Fab Lab. It’s available to all of our students regardless of their area of study.
“Like Easton LaChappelle, you don’t have to wait until you get out of school to think about ways you can change the world. Come to ICC and we’ll help you start to change the world before you’ve even finished your two years with us.
Jim Correll is the director of Fab Lab ICC at the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship on the campus of Independence Community College. He can be reached at (620) 252-5349, by email at email@example.com or Twitter @jimcorrellks. Archive columns at jimcorrell.com.