e-book Insight Out: Get Ideas Out of Your Head and Into the World

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On one side was the chapel, and on the other was the building that housed the men in solitary confinement. We then crossed the large paved enclosure where the men went for fresh air and exercise; it was surrounded by high walls with armed guards in towers. Finally, we reached the room where we met the men in The Last Mile program. Founded by successful entrepreneurs Chris Redlitz and Beverly Parenti, The Last Mile is designed to teach prison inmates business and technology skills that prepare them for life after incarceration.

Along with other volunteers who provide expertise in a wide variety of fields, they meet with a group of forty prisoners twice a week for six months, teaching them about entrepreneurship and helping them develop competence in written communication, public speaking , and computer proficiency. Participants in The Last Mile develop a business idea and build the technical skills needed to implement it.


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At the end of six months, they present their idea to an audience of business leaders and fellow inmates. The most important thing these men learn is how to see themselves as entrepreneurs who can carve a path toward a better future. Just like the students, the men were hungry to launch their lives and to fulfill their dreams. When asked how they would feel if they were only remembered for the worst thing they had ever done, the faces of the young people in the class showed that they understood. The students spent several hours with the men, learning about the challenges they anticipated when released.

They learned that over 60 percent of prison inmates in California end up back in prison within three years. This recidivism rate is a proxy for a lack of hope. Those who are released, often decades after they were first incarcerated, face a world with few options, piercing prejudice , and little guidance on how to rebuild their lives. Many look into their future and see nothing but fog, with no clear path ahead.

Each team picked a specific problem to tackle, ranging from finding work with a prison record to finding suitable housing after incarceration. They crafted hundreds of solutions for each of these problems and then tested their most promising ideas. The goal of this project was to provide the students with a chance to apply the tools they had learned in class and to see how those skills could be used to address meaningful, real-world problems. Many of the ideas they generated were innovative, and some were immediately actionable.

For example, one team designed a family exchange program so that newly released men could live in a home environment and learn skills of daily life. Once they develop the skills themselves, they become hosts for other recently released inmates. Another team developed the idea for a special job search website for former inmates so that they could tell their story to receptive employers.

Skills related to innovation and entrepreneurship are the keys to seeing and seizing those opportunities. People should emerge from school with agency, feeling empowered to address the opportunities and challenges that await them. This is untrue — these skills can certainly be learned, and it behooves us to teach people of all ages to be entrepreneurial, enabling them to invent the world in which they want to live. I believe that this view stems from the lack of a clear vocabulary and a process for moving from inspiration to execution. Other fields — such as physics, biology, math, and music — have a huge advantage when it comes to teaching those topics.

Get Ideas Out of Your Head and Into the World | Psychology Today South Africa

They have defined terms and a taxonomy of relationships that provide a structured approach for mastering needed skills. The definitions and equations allow us to describe fundamental principles and then apply them in constructive ways. When I ask people in any setting, from a classroom to a corporate office, to define creativity, I get a range of responses.

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