For countless years I was taught to learn the right answer and then regurgitate it on a test. I learned pretty quickly in life that if I crammed before a test I could memorize a good bit of information and store it in my tiny little head with just enough time to spit it out in 50 minutes on a test. I could parrot information well and if I couldn’t I learned to have exceptionally sloppy handwriting and have points deducted for messiness in hopes that if the teachers couldn’t read what I had written they’d give me the benefit of the doubt based on previous performance.
This served me pretty well. I’d say the only lasting ramification is that I have the handwriting of a doctor but not the brain to match and that I’ve become really good at listening for important facts that might come in handy later.
What I didn’t learn until much later in my education was how to think. When I attended the Whitman School of Business at Syracuse University for their Entrepreneurial Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities Family Program there were no answers and there were no tests. There was only one key idea that I learned time and time again: find a problem and then figure out the solution.
I learned by exploring, thinking and failing. And for one of the first times in my life I didn’t feel stupid if I didn’t know the answer. I just knew I was on a journey where I’d find no concrete answers to regurgitate on a test. I’d just be given the opportunity to look for problems and then tinker around until I came up with an idea for a solution, then I could test it and see if it worked. It felt like being in the science fair only we weren’t rewarded for getting testing our hypothesis and being right, we were encouraged to test and test and try again.
So often I wish I could go back to elementary school and learn not by getting the right answers but by learning for the sake of learning. I wish I could look at the experience with fresh eyes and not care about cramming for a test just to get straight As but rather learn for the sake of satiating my curiosity. In my opinion, as an entrepreneur, viewing business and life under that scope is far less stressful than feeling like I have to produce some magic answer just because it’s the right answer to fill in at the right time.
I wish that when I was a kid I knew I wanted to be a social entrepreneur when I grew up so I could take advantage of all of the learning possibilities that were before me instead of ranking myself against my peers.
Find a problem. Test a solution. Try again.
About the Author
Named Top 100 Leaders by 2012 Magazine, Jasmine Grimm has been nominated for Central Penn Business Journal’s “Top 40 Under 40,” and The Lancaster Chamber’s ATHENA Award.
Jasmine founded Ruby, Inc. a personal styling business that teaches women how to dress for their body types and became a two-time nominee for Inc. Magazine’s Top 30 Under 30 Top Young Entrepreneurs in America. She won the 2013 SCORE Business Development Award, the won the Central Penn Business Journal’s Top 25 Women of Influence Award in 2013 and the 2013 Leadership Award from the MS Society.
She has been a popular guest lecturer at the Maastricht Institute of Entrepreneurship and has been featured in Under 30 CEO and Productive Magazine, was the cover story for Harrisburg Magazine and her writing has graced National Geographic Television and Film, Harvard University and more.
She’s a 5,3,8,3 on the Kolbe A Index and her strengths include input, relator, learner, responsibility and achievement.