“He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future” is a famous slogan. Sounds pretty good to young ears, right? Guess again: it’s the slogan Adolf Hitler used in 1935 to stress the importance of the Hitler Youth. Thankfully, rigid structures like these have since become a lot less appealing to us.
Our new and improved slogan ought to be: he alone, who manages to stay young, will still be doing pretty well in the future.
Experiments conducted by American professors in psychology Alison Gopnik and Tom Griffiths have shown that young people are more creative than older adults. They explain this through the use of two terms taken from computer science: older adults typically exploit existing knowledge, whereas young people go out to explore, if need be.
Creativity is key at the moment, especially given the fact that routine jobs will be delegated to robots and expert systems. After the assembly line worker, the telemarketer, tax consultant and manager are now up for automatization. This means we will have to go looking for a source of eternal youth. If we look within ourselves, we will likely stumble upon entrepreneurship as a possible answer, something all of us do a little of.
American professor Saras Sarasvathy, teaching MBA students at the University of Darden, has noticed how business studies tends to expect entrepreneurs to first come up with a plan and then go on to engage in market research and risk assessment. Something akin to a chef following a recipe, then. She has also noticed how the reality is quite different: entrepreneurs scrape together their means, start their business at a random time, and change their minds along the way, more closely resembling an improvising chef, rummaging through the cupboard and hurrying to the corner shop for some extra ingredients. She refers to the latter method as ‘effectuation.’
Effectuation is everywhere: one might join a Startup Weekend for (young) entrepreneurs, or use ‘engage thinking’ when simply designing one’s local bridge club’s team building event.
Those stuck in their own rigid structures may have to look outside themselves for their eternal youth. Steve Jobs, an entrepreneur if ever there was one, was very open about the fact that he had helped his imagination along by using LSD. We may not have had the iPhone or MacBook if it weren’t for recreational drugs. Meanwhile, the Design Museum in London has put on an exhibition by the name of ‘California – Designing Freedom,’ reviewing the roles of both LSD and the current Californian tech hegemony.
In the most recent issue of The Economist’s 1843 magazine, Emma Hogan pays the Silicon Valley elite a visit. That elite likes to engage in LSD ‘micro-dosing;’ they expect minimal doses to increase their creativity. Whether yours comes from within, or can be taken in pill-form: he alone, who owns eternal youth, gains the future.
This article originally appeared on Studio Zeitgeist.
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