Essay

What If We Weren’t Afraid?

The Risk of Embracing Change

Youth are fearless. I’m in the fifth of six weeks of teaching teenagers about sustainability. Their receptivity to new concepts fuels me. It is inspiring and infectious. For the most part, they aren’t preprogrammed about what is possible and what is not. Yesterday, the writer, teacher and environmentalist David Orr spoke to them about moral, economic and political leadership. David has fought his share of battles. “Just because something is new, doesn’t mean it is risky!” he exclaimed to me over lunch, venting a recent frustration with a project. If we’re going to tackle climate change, among other sustainability-related challenges, we’re going to need to engage the new much more readily than we do today. If I could instill my students with anything, it would be the ability to keep embracing positive change, even if it doesn’t initially work out. How can we mitigate our innovation-hindering fear of failure? Perhaps by not teaching it in the first place. Rather, in the words of Samuel Beckett, let’s show them how to relish it as the way progress occurs: “No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

Peter Nicholson, Innovationist
FORESIGHT DESIGN INITIATIVE

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