Watching the news or reading the paper, it takes only a few minutes to identify major problems in our world.
From the abhorrent behavior of certain NFL players to new terrorist threats in the Middle East, we are surrounded by challenges in every direction. While most of us empathize with these issues, few leap into action.
Three impressive individuals who rose to the challenge aren’t politicians, social activists, or business leaders … they’re college students. From the Materials Science & Engineering department at North Carolina State University to be precise.
Having learned about the horrors of “date rape” on college campuses, the trio decided to invent an early detection system to make women safer. Their big idea: a nail polish that changes colors when it comes in contact with chemicals that have been used to drug women such as Rohypnol, Xanax and GHB.
They are billing the innovation as, the First Fashion Company Empowering Women To Prevent Sexual Assault. Ankesh Madan, one of the cofounders, explained how the team created the idea: “We were thinking about big problems in our society, the topic of drug-facilitated sexual assault came up. All of us have been close to someone who has been through the terrible experience, and we began to focus on preventive solutions, especially those that could be integrated into products that women already use. And so the idea of creating a nail polish that detects date rape drugs was born,” she said, according to a blog entry I read at highereducationworks.org.
While still in the early stages, these young, creative entrepreneurs are well-positioned to make a real difference. Their fresh approach to a real-world problem will likely prevent untold suffering, while also yielding tremendous commercial success.
Each of us has a similar opportunity to make a positive impact by unleashing our imagination to attack the challenges we face.
To proceed, you don’t need to be in college, start a company, or have access to capital. We all have the basic building block of creative problem-solving already at our disposal: human imagination. Rather than ignoring the world’s challenges, or leaping to simple and obvious solutions, let’s raise the bar by pushing our creativity muscles to higher levels of performance.
It’s easy to complain about issues or feel overwhelmed by the negativity in the world. Let’s flip our thinking and use those feelings to fuel our most potent creativity. To begin, attack the very problems that irk you the most. Major advancements throughout history most often come from the frustration of the status quo combined with a courageous, new, creative approach to disrupting it. Instead of getting irritated by the chaos du jour, fight back with your biggest, boldest ideas.
Think of yourself as a problem-solving artist. Today, the world needs your masterpiece like never before.