Recently I returned to England as an alumni to attend a celebration of student achievements, including entrepreneurship breakthrough Awards, and to deliver a lecture.
When I first started to give lectures on entrepreneurship I half expected to be thrown out on my ear! Not surprising since my first lecture was entitled ‘Failure is an Option’. I thought that a message that destroyed the whole concept of permanent success through the education system, leading to a good class degree that would lead to a job for life was not what the educators wanted their students to hear.
However, over time I have been very encouraged to find that the students react very favourably to a message that identifies their strengths as a result of the education conveyor belt, but also identifies the weaknesses that such a system can create.
I focus specifically on the areas of creativity, risk, and fear of failure and I try to show that loss of these skills is not terminal but can be regained.
Let me say, at this point, that the university I was visiting had several examples of people that had held onto these critical values, hence the breakthrough entrepreneurship awards.
But even more encouraging was the way that the young people in the lecture received the message so positively. What I discovered was that many of them had already started to wonder what happened in a year or two when they dropped off the end of the education conveyor belt and that they found the idea of someone telling them as it is was motivational and inspiring.
I claim no credit for motivating and inspiring, only for carrying the message that resonates with them. I believe that young people look forward to the challenges that a fast changing world creates. It is the older people that cling to the known rather than preparing for the unknown.
I came back from England very encouraged as I always do when I interact with young people. I discovered young people that wanted to embrace the future, that were keen to be creative and who were not afraid of taking risks. I also witnessed education establishments that were embracing the new paradigm and were much more open to entrepreneurship.
I have always said that young people inspire and motivate me and that I believe they will take care of the future without being told what to do by us older ones. Now if parents could only catch up with the educators and start to trust our young people to find their own direction then this planet will be in good hands.