By Carla Tanas
As the Dean of the Institute at ACS Athens, I am passionate about supporting and empowering young people to make a positive impact in the world. At the heart of this mission is the development of an entrepreneurial mindset, which is essential for success in today’s unpredictable world.
This mindset is not just important for those who want to develop their own venture or business because becoming entrepreneurial is a way of being. Developing an entrepreneurial mindset enhances your life, not just your career because it enables you to navigate the unknown with comfort and confidence because you know that you have the tools you need to create opportunities – for your enterprise, for your community, and for yourself.
As the saying goes, “if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.”
Developing an entrepreneurial mindset teaches young people to be adaptable, resilient, and resourceful in the face of challenges by:
- Harnessing their passions toward their purpose
- Listening as a tool to stay true to yourself and open to opportunities
- Learning how to balance perseverance and adaptability to build resilience
- Refining problem-solving skills
- Refocusing problems into opportunities
- Empowering collaboration
Just as a journey starts with a step toward a destination, knowing one’s purpose, either as an individual or a team, is the initial building block of this mindset. This requires the individual to quiet the noise of fear and pressure and listen to their inner voice. Much like the finish line of a marathon, or Ithaca in Odysseus’ journey home, defining one’s purpose is powerful because it enables the entrepreneur to focus on his/her values and what is important despite distractions and setbacks.
Perseverance and adaptability are two important skills built through this mindset. Great ideas don’t become reality by chance, they happen by design. Building a successful venture or business requires hard work and dedication, and setbacks are inevitable. Entrepreneurs must be able to pivot quickly when their plans don’t work out while still staying focused on the priority at hand, and this skill is just as valuable in any other area of life. A growth mindset teaches young people to overcome adversity and keep going even when things get tough. Once a young person realizes that challenges are surmountable, resilience is steadily built.
Entrepreneurs are constantly seeking new solutions to the problems they encounter, and this mindset teaches young people to utilize a variety of problem-solving skills to approach problems with creativity and innovation. When you adopt an entrepreneurial mindset, you see through a lens that refocuses problems into opportunities awaiting solutions to address unmet needs. When you adopt an entrepreneurial mindset, you must listen for clues when facing problems because what presents as an issue could actually be an opportunity in disguise. When you listen without processing information through your own or others’ filters, you can pinpoint insights and see through a lens that refocuses problems into opportunities awaiting solutions to address unmet needs.
Utilizing one’s own strengths is a one-dimensional way to address challenges, but developing a strength in building collaboration is a more robust approach to achieve success.
Whether we speak of collaboration with each other or collaboration between humans and machines, collaboration, now more than ever, is key to our success as humanity, which is why educational institutions must take on the role of guiding students, particularly those teaching children during their primary years when they are defining their identity, character and fundamental values.
Fostering this type of collaboration is one of the main goals of the Institute of ACS Athens, which serves as a BRIDGE connecting ACS Athens (our students, faculty and our families and friends) to other organizations, companies and universities.
Earlier this spring, the Institute of ACS Athens launched ACS Athens OPEN to inspire and support students in developing their entrepreneurial mindset. This pilot initiative, now in its second phase, invited students to submit innovative ideas for creating new solutions on campus, promoting sustainability, enhancing the learning experience, and advancing conscious citizenship. Through ACS Athens OPEN, we are helping young people develop the skills they need to be successful in whatever they choose to do.
We believe that by fostering an entrepreneurial mindset, we are enabling “21st century being” by equipping young people with a toolkit to make a positive impact in the world and create a brighter future for all of us.