5 Superhero-Style Ways to Break Boundaries in 2015 | Net Impact

5 Superhero-Style Ways to Break Boundaries in 2015

Liz Maw Net Impact Conference
Net Impact CEO Liz Maw inspiring the crowd with talk of superheroes at our 2014 conference.

Drive change and make an impact just like Wonder Woman or Green Lantern, but maybe in a more subtle outfit. 

When I was little, I dreamed of having great superpowers when I was older. Think back for a minute: did you ever dream of being a superhero? Or maybe you dreamed of being a real-life hero. When we're little, we have big dreams. We want to save people, we want to be admired for our world-class skills, we want to discover new lands and planets, we want to fly.

Then we get older, and things get more complicated. We still want to be the good guy, but other realities set in, such as money, job security, and what our friends or family think we should do. The bad guys also get a little more complicated. When you’re little, you can vanquish the monster under your bed by turning on the light. When you’re an adult, the monsters are a little harder to beat: Ebola, climate change, poverty.

Well, I’m here to tell you that even though our choices are complicated and the threats are frightening, there are superheroes around us everywhere we look. There are superheroes in our community and superheroes reading this blog post who are driving change and making impact just like Wonder Woman or Green Lantern, but maybe in more subtle outfits.

As a new generation of leaders, we want to build businesses that create social good and not cause social problems. We want to push ourselves out of our comfort zone to collaborate across sectors and with the competition. We want to tackle big, complex, hairy social and environmental issues and not just create products that make life more comfortable for the top 10 percent. And we can’t do that alone.

The social and environmental issues that we’re facing are too hard for any one person, one company, or even one social sector to tackle alone. We need to combine all of superpowers. Christopher Reeve said, “So many of our dreams first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.” Impossible, improbable, inevitable. Together, we can summon the will and break the boundaries in front of us.

Five ways to break boundaries in 2015:

  1. Work on an issue from several angles at once by reaching across sectors, across departments, or across campus.
  2. Sit down and share perspectives with someone who’s working on your issue from a vastly different point of view (watch Debating the Future of Food from our conference for an example).
  3. Collaborate with the competition to solve an issue bigger than your individual organization or group.   
  4. Share your boundary-breaking goals and ideas with like-minded leaders at a Net Impact chapter event and hold each other accountable.
  5. Build your social entrepreneurship skills, your intrapreneurship skills or your leadership skills so that you become even more effective at creating change.

Now get out there and turn an impossibility into an inevitability – superhero costumes optional.

Note: This post was adapted from Liz’s opening remarks at the 2014 Net Impact Conference, which you can watch here.