Sunday, October 16, 2011

31 (More) Days of #BIF7 - Day 16 - Dale Stephens

Everyone at BIF-7 was feeling it. You could feel the positive energy when the storytellers were onstage and how people were listening intently, connected. During the breaks I observed -- from both my own experiences and the conversations I overheard -- how most of the attendees were assiduously following the telos of BIF-7, and striving to "connect, inspire, and transform". It was all nods and smiles.

And then Dale Stephens slapped the audience in the face. Dale's story focused on his decision to drop out of college. He explained why he did it (he wasn't learning enough and wasn't challenged) and provided reasons why others should consider dropping out too (students accrue massive college debt, college teaches conformity, life itself provides better field trips than college, and more). Even as he was speaking, I knew that some members of the audience were growing uncomfortable. You could sense the nervous energy and shifting body language in the theater. Perhaps some people were considering the colleges their children were attending and becoming defensive. Or maybe Dale's comment that "the purpose of Harvard University was to produce alumni to enrich Harvard University" was a little too irreverent even for BIF. Whatever the causes: it was about time, I thought.

Since innovation often takes place on the edge and pushes dramatic change, there are inevitably moments of disagreement, opposition, and uneasiness. I savor the discomfort and am glad Dale brought it to BIF-7. His challenge to the accepted norm that everyone needs a college degree inspired debate and pushed some people to consider a point of view outside of their paradigm and comfort zone. And it is exactly this kind of openness (to uncomfortable, contrarian viewpoints) that keeps us mentally sharp and combats ossification.

Additional information:

Twitter: @DaleJStephens

BIF Profile Page

This is part of my 31 (More) Days of #BIF7 blog series.

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