Students from poor neighborhoods with low college graduation rates?
People dying of starvation in Bangladesh?
A son born without fingers?
Small pox ravaging a village?
We improve our individual prosperity and those of others by achieving our dreams and big ideas. They result in purpose and meaning, love and belonging as well as feeling competent (success) from leveraging our unique strengths and talents. It could be from ensuring our daughters get college degrees, improving relationships with loved ones, opening restaurants, changing careers, improving our communities or maybe competing in a marathon.
To make almost anything happen, it requires the aspirer of a dream or big idea to take action along with many others. We need to be inspired to act, change or fit something new in our lives. Successful aspirers tap into these human motivations that are looking to improve well-being. It’s the well-being coming from solving a problem or addressing an unmet need. It provides an almost singular focus to the aspirer as well as insight into the beneficiaries and people that must change.
Here are 5 problems solved by successful aspirers with this laser-like focus:
1. Reed Hasting began to understand the problem when he had to pay $40 for a video rental he forgot to return. He was afraid to tell his wife. This wasn’t a problem for Video rental provider Blockbuster when most of their profits were coming from these lucrative late fees. So Reed Hasting created Netflix to solve the video late fee problem for him and other beneficiaries.
2. Mike Feinberg and David Levin thought the problem was kids from poor neighborhoods not graduating from college at the same rate as kids from affluent neighborhoods. They created KIPP Academy schools and proved that middle school students from poor neighborhoods can achieve test scores that match any affluent community. Yet, it didn’t fix the college graduation disparities. They sharpen their resolve to create a comprehensive program that successfully followed the beneficiaries (students) to college campuses through to their graduation day.
3. Muhammad Yunus began to learn about the causes of starvation in his Bangladesh community by speaking to village woman. They were paying loan shark rates to acquire bamboo to make furniture, thus trapping them in poverty. Yunus lent $27 (US) of his money to 42 women who eventually repaid these loans generating a $.80 profit for Yunus. The Nobel Peace Prize winner’s creation of micro-lending and Grameen Bank now loans $25B to 100 million people worldwide.
4. Paul McCarthy’s problem was ensuring his son Leon was not negatively impacted by being born without fingers. It would cost $20K-$30K for a prosthesis hand that he would soon outgrow. Paul researched and discovered a Robohand on YouTube. He downloaded designs to a 3-D printer to provide his son a working hand at a cost of $5 to $10. The beneficiary (Leon) liked the fact that “When I outgrow my hand, we can easily make a new one”.
5. Edward Jenner became motivated once the problem of small pox began causing many deaths in his community. After observing that milkmaids with cowpox lesions didn’t get small pox, he injected pus from a milkmaid’s hand into an 8 year old boy. The beneficiary (James Phipps) never contracted small pox and nor did the other beneficiaries who received similar injections from his small pox vaccine invention. This led to the World Health Organization to declare the eradication of small pox in 1977.
If you have a dream or big idea, a clear understanding of the problem you are solving or unmet need you are addressing can provide you focus. It can offer insight into how to tap the human motivations of others. It may be what you need to help you make almost anything happen.