Social entrepreneurship is a high risk lifestyle.
Axiomatically, a social entrepreneur should – indeed must – advocate for risk-taking status quo disruption on behalf of communities without power, without opportunity and without resources.
Equally true, every social change agent worthy of the name builds and leads a risk-taking organization which endeavors to pioneer innovation, expand the horizons of justice and challenge conventional wisdom.
Less talked about, social entrepreneurs take risks with their own careers. They risk job security. They risk generous financial rewards. They risk the calm stability which comes with a traditional career path. They risk friendships and family as they travel the world seeking to listen and learn from local constituencies.
In the latest Café Impact how-to social change video, three high-achiever social entrepreneurs echo Mahatma Gandhi’s call-to-action, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
In Shake the World, James Marshall Reilly nails the career challenge confronting most college graduates, writing, “The postgraduate internship had become the Experience MBA.” Happily, an Experience MBA is precisely the change-the-world opportunity you need to flip your social justice theory into social justice action.
As Rajasvini “Vini” Bhansali, CEO of the International Development Exchange (IDEX), smartly reminds us, “if we are going to do economic justice work, we need to see what economic injustice looks like.” In social change work, “We can get too comfortable in our titles and our cushy jobs.”
Before you get stuck in a cushy job, learn about economic injustice first-hand. Before you contribute, before you can contribute, learn to observe.
Luckily, at home and abroad there are an infinite number of internships, fellowships and other community-based experiences. You might need to fend off the loving, but conservative, guidance of parents, professors and mentors, but take a risk on yourself and your values.
Take a calculated, committed career risk: Put your tax dollars to work by joining the Peace Corps.
If you feel powerless to make a difference in the world, “dare yourself to take a risk,” says Jerry Hildebrand, founder/CEO, Global Center for Social Entrepreneurship. In 1961, Jerry took a big risk by signing up to be a member of the very first Peace Corps class, found himself stationed in a remote Peruvian village and launched his life-long career of community service.
Existentially, the road to social change starts with personal risk-taking. What is important to understand is – in the matter of risk-taking – social entrepreneurs have no choice.
– Jonathan C. Lewis, Host/Founder, Café Impact (original blog at Huffington Post)