#GSP15 - Week 0 (Backstory)
My first words
When I first heard about Singularity University's Graduate Studies Program, I formed two theories about the near-future:
1.) if I got in, I would love it;
2.) it would be a long shot to get in.
Theory 2 was not meant to be critical or even a self-assessment, though my background as a social entrepreneur and sociologist seemed like it would be rather different than at least the plurality of other participants.
Rather, I saw the Graduate Studies Program (GSP) as a long shot because, in many ways, it is. The numbers are austere: 5000+ applicants. 80 spots. First year ever that the program was free for everyone - previously $30,000 - thanks to Google and other partners. Held at NASA Ames Research Center. And brimming with brilliant participants representing 40+ countries.
A long shot for me and anyone, really.
And therein lies a conundrum that, as I now see, the GSP is built to solve: desirable future outcomes are only unlikely insofar as they are not pursued. In the past, and in this situation certainly, what I perceived as realistic was calcified early on in my mind, rather than what could be.
This pessimism almost resulted in a self-fulfilling prophecy: I hemmed and hawed and hemmed some more until I suddenly realized that I was only two days away from the application deadline.
At the time, my rational brain concluded that any application I threw together in < 48 hours would not pass muster. So I missed the deadline, and relegated the idea of Singularity University to a distant, fuzzy future that I would somehow stumble into but certainly not proactively create.
Fortunately, a friend who had attended an earlier cohort reached out to ask me how my application turned out and, upon hearing that I hadn't hit "submit," informed me that the deadline had been extended two weeks.
The rest is history. I jumped into action, managed to corral two very generous references (thank you again, Luke and Erhardt), and got in. And so the first lesson of #GSP15 began before the program start date: it is incumbent upon us to accelerate the future, today in the present.
Ever hear the story of the young scientist who went for a walk and left the bunsen burner on, only to return to find a particle accelerator on her desk?
Long shots are actually too easy. Time to embrace what Peter Diamandis calls moonshot thinking.
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
Here's to the unreasonable person.