To hack used to be something I did ‘to be useful’ out in the “back forty” with one of these – you swing it back and forth thus ‘hacking’ the weeds down to something more manageable for a mower unit on a tractor to cover, or to till the earth without having all the seed heads getting into the dirt and creating even more work in the long run.
Hacking hasn’t been that for me for a very long time, primarily because in the early 1990s I landed a MarComm Manager role at a tech company spun out of the IBM, MCI and Merit called, then, ANS CORE Systems, Inc., shortly thereafter, changed to ANS Communications. At that point, amidst towers, air conditioned closets, vast pyramids of empty cans of Mountain Dew and Coca-Cola, my awareness of hacking shifted dramatically; hacking became something our team of programmers protected our Fortune 500 client base from happening to their information systems with firewall and VPDN solutions. Each and every one of my colleagues possessed the technical skills capable of breaking into, rather than protecting, IT systems but each had the moral compass to ‘do no harm’. They were (and continue to be) innovators – way ahead of the technology curve that most of us deal with on a daily basis and obsessed with achieving perfection in code – my job was to shine a spotlight on the product suite they developed and have it gain adoption with our core audiences.
The general public is a bit more aware of hacking today – security breaches abound from crowd-funding platform Kickstarter, to Forbes and Neiman Marcus – it’s generally a rather nefarious association to hack something. But thankfully hacking is emerging from doing “a hack job” to something about fostering positive disruption of a less-than-ideal status quo by applying the creativity inherent to each and every one of us.
To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science.
— Albert Einstein
Several months ago I sat enraptured watching Logan LaPlante’s TEDx presentation on hacking his education – I am not a mom, but had I been such I would so want to create an environment for learning and living life for my kids as his parents clearly have. At the end of the day it is Logan doing the heavy lifting on his life with a maturity that far too many of us (insert any nationality) do not possess. Self awareness, discipline, creativity and curiosity drive him (as much as his love of skiing on fresh powder). The seminal article by Dr Roger Walsh referenced by Logan encompasses eight building blocks of a happy and healthy life and are referred to as Therapeutic Lifestyles Changes (TLCs) and I can’t help but wonder why (like Logan) this path to living has not become more mainstream – well, in fact I do know why, as do most of us.
The paradigm of happiness is treated like a Holy Grail instead of something common to our experience and when our reality fails to ‘live up to’ the perception drilled into our psyche by the media we chose ‘medication’ (pills, alcohol or on the psychiatrists’ sofa) rather than stepping into the void. The core outcome of hacking is innovation ~ seeing the possibility of doing something easier, with greater style or more efficiently, fostering positive impact for ourselves and the world around us all of which exist at the core of social responsibility.
There are hundreds of thousands of ‘hackers’ whose efforts have produced totally cool end results, but I want to share two extremes of creative thinking with you that I believe have real possibilities of fostering paradigm shifts in many of our lives. Though I don’t personally know any of these people the term lifehack comes immediately to mind when I think of Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin of the Swedish firm Hövding who have created a cyclists dream come true – a bike helmet that is essentially a personal airbag, and the disruptive microfinance and financial inclusion technology model created by the Croatian firm Oradian‘s co-founders Antonio Separovic, Andrew Mainhart, Julian Oehrlein and Onyeka Adibeli. I think it is a reasonable assumption to write that their quality of life is enhanced because each recognised in themselves creativity begging for outlet and then, as a fundamental principle of their businesses, they engaged in work that both stimulates them and which also incorporates ‘service to others’.
Yes, I realise that my perception of any of these, and thousands of others, individuals might be skewed toward something larger than reality but in believing such perhaps the resonance of positive carries forward to inspire more creativity, catalysing innovation and fostering change.
As the Buddha is credited with saying, “All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think, we become.”
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