Arguably the most important shift in attitude that has taken roots in our social consciousness in the first two decades of the 21st century is the realization that we as humans are shepherds of this planet. It is up to us to preserve it and sustain it for future generations and all of its inhabitants – human or otherwise.
Naturally, bearing this profound realization and seeing the malfunctions of many of our institutions, many young people are growing up with the wish to make an impact– to change the world for the better.
However, while the standard way to exercise this wish is to become an activist, it certainly isn’t the most effective way to enact change. Activism raises awareness of an issue, but often it relies on the very institutions that have created or perpetuated the problems to make a meaningful change, and this is unlikely to happen as these institutions are in a game-theoretic equilibrium. Change is likely to happen only after disruption from an outside force.
Gandhi famously said “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” While taking personal responsibility for your behavior is a fundamental prerequisite of change, in the year 2021 there are platforms where your ideas, if successful, could be amplified a thousandfold.
Who Bears The Risk Of Wrong Ideas?
Instead of demanding that governments mandate electric vehicles by year X, Elon Musk used smartphone battery technology to create a great innovative electric car, to disrupt and rapidly grow the electric vehicles market, and to make electric cars some of the most desired in the world.
Instead of demanding that governments pay for another Apollo program, he created Space X and started working toward sending a human to Mars.
Yes, these examples are outliers, but if you are vaguely familiar with the startup world you know that exponential growth curves mean that it only takes a few experiments to be successful in order to have a profound positive effect on society.
If you demand centralized government-driven change, a failure of the idea would have tremendous social and financial costs.
When entrepreneurs fail, however, they (and their investors and partners) are the only ones bearing the risk, and they bear it willingly. If Musk’s ventures had failed, he would have lost a lot of money, which would not really matter if your name is not Elon Musk. While if his ventures are successful – the whole of humanity benefits.
People Are Willing To Believe In Your Vision
While the first wave of startup founders (Elon Musk included) had a rough time getting people to see the potential in their ideas, they have paved the way for entrepreneurs coming after them.
There are plenty of startup investment funds that are eager to fund technology projects with the potential to change the world (and to reap outsized returns for their efforts). Robotics, AI, green tech, biotech, etc. are some of the industries with the highest availability of startup funding.
If you have a good idea, the process of building a startup is much more standardized than it was two or three decades ago – there are plenty of people and resources that can help you along the way. The same applies to the process of raising funding for your startup.
And while the chances are that you will fail, this doesn’t mean that it would be a negative experience as a whole. Entrepreneurship forces you to learn to deal with a lot of situations that you wouldn’t encounter otherwise. Moreover, working on something innovative is the best opportunity to learn truths that nobody else in the world knows yet.
Consequently, even a failed project will make you into a more competent and capable individual as a whole. This increases the chances that you would be able to make a significant difference in the future.
In one word: go.