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Looking Closely at Innovation

Innovation comes in all shapes and size, and I think it’s this very flexibility that can make it so powerful.  I started really thinking about this the other day when my English teacher was discussing ways for our class to find ideas for our “innovation projects.”  He encouraged us to look for needs in our communities.  Instead of searching everywhere, we needed to look more closely at the ideas that surrounded us, at the wealth of knowledge at our door steps.  I had always viewed innovation as a huge, daunting term.  To me, it meant finding a way to change the world: discovering a cure for a fatal illness or solving world hunger. It meant tackling a huge issue that I knew very little about, let alone how to solve.

It wasn’t until today the concept of looking closely really hit me.  I was in the girl’s locker room, when I noticed a small piece of paper taped to the wall – in black, bold face letters was the word SMILE  and underneath it was a note signed anonymous.

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“SMILE (: You look nice today! Actually I don’t there’s been a day where you don’t look amazing! Let me just tell you, you and Chuck Norris are at equal levels! You make my day so I hope this note makes yours. Don’t stop smiling and being yourself, because you are just full of sunshine!”

Some people might consider this graffiti but I saw it as art- and more importantly, an undeclared step of innovation. Anonymous had taken up themselves to brighten up the locker room with an uplifting note, despite the fact that they had received no permission to do so and it was against school rules.  It’s important to realize that a crucial step for changing anything is to challenge established norms,  to go against the grain and break the rules.  Because it’s only by breaking the rules that we can eventually  reshape them  to fit the world we would rather live in. More importantly for me, it really ingrained that though we may view innovation on a large scale, often times it’s the smallest ideas that can make the biggest impact.  Because as small and insignificant as that note was, it brightened up my day.

Who knows, maybe nice locker room graffiti will be the next big thing.

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