What do you do with an idea?

SOURCE: TeroVesalainen (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

By Julie Lehman – Guest Contributor

Everything around us started with an idea.

This building you’re sitting in while you’re reading this? It started with an idea. The technology you’re using? An idea. The clothes you’re wearing? Well, they might not be your mom’s idea, but they were someone’s idea…

Everything around us is here because someone had an idea, shared it with someone else, presented information to a person or group with influence, created a plan for how to make it happen, then followed that plan through until their idea became reality.

You are here at Hesston College because somewhere, somehow, the seed of an idea about going to college was planted in you. Then you probably got 11,000 mailings from various colleges around the country who were aware of your graduation year. Somehow you narrowed your idea down from “I would like to go to college,” to, “I would like to go to Hesston College.” And here you are, 2020, your idea has become reality.

I’ve been around Hesston College for a long time. I was a student here in the late ‘90s. I worked here as a Resident Director in the early 2000’s. Now I’ve been the counselor here for the past 10 years. I’ve heard a lot of ideas during my time on this campus. Some ideas were inspiring: as a student, (need the story)  Some were just fun:on a pick-a-date, someone had the idea to have some friends dress up like aliens, “kidnap” the group in a van with the interior covered entirely in aluminum foil, to take us all back to “The Mother Ship,” aka Tim Goering’s barn, for food and games. 

As a Resident Director, I heard about and witnessed lots of ideas. Some were macro-focused. I was RD during a presidential election year, and some students initiated an informational forum about the candidates to encourage informed voting, and helped get fellow students registered to vote if they weren’t already. Some ideas were about campus-wide changes that students wanted. One year, students had the idea to increase open house hours. They shared the idea with others, surveyed campus, wrote a proposal, answered questions, and presented it to the Dean of Students. Open house hours changed. Other ideas were ill-advised and will not be presented here due to risk of alarming animal rights activists and late-night bathroom-goers alike.

As campus counselor, my work is centered around ideas. Students come to me because they have the idea that something is wrong, and that life could be better. They acted on the idea – they shared it, and together we determine how to move this idea into reality. IMHO, I have the most amazing job on campus, getting a front-row seat to the growth and creation of new realities that you students put out into the world every day. Many of you are working very, very hard to make your ideas a reality.

And what about the ideas that are bigger than each of us as individuals, ideas that might impact our campus, which might then impact our community, our lives, the lives of others as we go from this place? I am writing this essay because of symposium (which, you guessed it – started as an idea, from someone in academics, you can thank them later). A group presented some excellent ideas for enhancing community at Hesston College. And I wondered: how many great ideas are floating around out there that never become reality because you don’t know where to plant them? How many times have you (or a friend) said, “I wish…..” “I wish the cafeteria would be open longer.” (That was an idea a year or two ago, and now we have extended eating hours). “I wish the softball team wouldn’t have to go across town to practice and play.” (That was an idea for a long time that finally became a reality this year!) Those wishes are the beginnings of ideas. Or what about questions that start with, “What if….?” “What if each mod had a mod cook, and that was one way to bring mods together in a unifying and fun way?” (to promote an idea from Jacob, Jada, Blake and Alex’s presentation, which prompted this rumination). What if….. (another idea).

So – what DO you do with an idea?

  1. Share it. Find others who share your idea, who can add to it, revise it, refine it, add energy to it.
  2. Present it to someone. Find a faculty or staff member. Tell them your idea. Entertain questions and challenges. Refine some more.
  3. Create a plan. Write it down. Name your goal and why you think this is a great idea, what good will come of it, what risks there might be in carrying it out. Name what you are willing to do to help make this idea become a reality.
  4. Offer your proposal. Give it to Student Life. Write about it in the Horizon. Did you know? This is YOUR campus, too. Help to give it the shape you want to see.

And you know – not all ideas will become reality. Sometimes even really good ideas. BUT, there’s a quote I love, attributed to Victor Hugo: “There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.”



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