One perk of joining the Cohort at 4.0 is getting your own freshly cut key to the office. Though I live in Eastern North Carolina now, I bring my key everywhere. It is of little use in the traditional sense; but I’ve found it to be a vital anchor. When you’re someone who regularly tells anyone who will listen that you believe rural Southern communities can and should be leading hubs of innovation, something as simple as a key can be a helpful reminder of how you got to thinking that such an idea is actually quite reasonable.
I came to the Cohort in the spring struggling with the problem of education in the rural South. I walked out convinced that education was inextricably linked to health and economic factors. Groundbreaking? Not really, but an important conclusion nonetheless. I left having attempted no prototype; instead, I moved. In a way, though, my career was the prototype; and a complete redesign was in order.
More recently, I’ve found myself revisiting a handful of realizations I came to in the spring:
- Sprint, always – Time is your most precious asset, so don’t waste it. If you’re compelled to go after a specific problem, be ready and willing to rework your entire life to pursue it.
- Assume an alternate perspective – Make a habit of assuming uncommon angles with vigor. If that’s hard for you, just repeatedly prime yourself to do so and the habit will follow.
- Get in front of people – say hello, ask questions, empathize, ask for guinea pigs. 99% of people will be willing to help in some way if you’re clear and friendly.
Needless to say, that key is going to be with me for a long time. Now I just have to make sure they don’t change the locks before I get back for Mardi Gras.