Posted by kari.petroschmidt
What is Audacious? Well, I’ll start by giving you the pared back, simplified version. It’s essentially a competition which aims to facilitate Otago students starting businesses. We begin with round one in semester one, where students are to develop an idea and submit this to a judging panel. Those students selected to enter the second round will receive $500, and the ultimate winner may receive up to $25,000 to start their business.
Now, there have been a few changes in Audacious this year. So before I go on to discuss what Audacious could be in 2012, we’d like to pay tribute to an inspired individual. David Quinn left the program earlier this year, having become involved in the middle of 2011. His energy and passion inspired many of us to have a greater vision for ourselves, to get a taste for some kind of freedom and possibility. It was that spark when we were exhausted, that helping hand when we most desperately needed it. We won’t forget you and the lessons you taught us. They’ll be carried into the future. This is to you David.
So what is Audacious really about? What could it be about?
We spend a lot of our time existing within socially prescribed modes of thinking. What is the status quo? What are the expectations? How do we fit into the social meme? For me, Audacious has been about thinking outside these constructs. Which, I can assure you, is a process and probably a lifelong journey. But let’s start with education.
One can argue that education needs to be systematised, standardised. As human beings we hate to live without structure and the sense of certainty that standards provide. And yet, there’s no doubt it has its failings. More often than not school and University/Polytechnic feel like a sausage factory experience. Get a degree. Pass this paper. Churn out this essay, to stack up the desired grade. Get all your points. Ad infinitum. Where’s the inspiration? Where’s the relevance to real life? Where’s the recognition that there are different modes of learning, understanding and creating value? Doing one paper at University and working at the same time, the contrast has been remarkable. Though my readings can be interesting and my lecturer is clearly passionate, it’s so passive, sitting in a lecture, re-iterating other writers’ thinking, writing pieces that are never going to get published in ‘the real world’. Memorising a tonne of information that I’m going to forget a day later. It becomes about the goal, not the journey, getting the grade, not acquiring the knowledge and doing something amazing with it.
“In fact, I was one of the best at imbibing information, memorising it and spewing it onto a page.”
I remember doing first year law. I was second equal in 2009 and boy did I slave to get there. And I was proud of this achievement. I worked hard, I was rewarded. But don’t for a minute think I was the happiest or most satisfied person in my class. In fact, I remember 2009 as one of the worst years of my life. I sat in a class of hundreds, largely anonymously. There was no community. I wasn’t creating anything I cared about. I wasn’t thinking independently. In fact I was one of the best at imbibing information, memorising it and spewing it onto a page.
Fast forward to 2012 and I am now involved in a number of projects where I feel I am more of a producer and less a consumer. I’m doing what I love and honestly, I’m exactly where I want to be. How did I get there? By trying out as many things as possible to see what worked for me, by thinking for myself and by taking risks. And that’s what Audacious should be about; encouraging people to think critically, independently and inspirationally. That there’s a bigger vision that can exists for ourselves, that we can do something that matters, something meaningful. That’s what we’re all looking for, right?
“And that’s what Audacious should be about; encouraging people to think critically, independently and inspirationally.”
And it’s important to develop this mode of thinking as soon as possible, because if you let it, it can extend into your entire life; that need for security; living up to what you think you’re supposed to do, living in fear, never reaching your potential with cash money being the overwhelming incentive. How’s this for logic (anecdotal evidence, but relevant nevertheless). A law student has a passion for travel so they figure they’ll become a lawyer and they’ll have lots of money with which to do what they love. That is, in the meagre two weeks of holiday they get a year, the small period of respite they receive in between working 9-5 doing something they hate. Yeah, okay. I think starting up is about questioning that system. It’s saying, actually I’m brave enough to take a risk. To figure out what I love and to just do it – autonomously and without fear. To be my own boss, to follow my own passion, whatever that is. It takes time to build up that courage. It also takes community. And that’s what Audacious should be, changing or creating a culture of critical thinking, self-actualization, social consciousness and bigger picture thinking and ambition.
Is this Audacious in 2012? Watch this space.