Yes, You Can Change the World

You want to make a difference in the world — to create a lasting impact that leaves the earth better than you found it. Maybe you hope to help create healthier communities or a more sustainable planet for future generations. Knowing where to start may be tough. How do you channel your passions? How do you combine your interest in technology with those passions? And how do you find the confidence to pursue what you really want to do?

Anousheh Ansari, CEO of the XPRIZE Foundation, has a lot of experience with changing the world. She’s also a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, the founder of The Billion Dollar Fund for Women and the first Muslim woman in space.

On The Girls in Tech Podcast, Ansari shared her thoughts on how women in tech can solve some of the world’s greatest problems. The XPRIZE Foundation has hosted numerous competitions to help commercialize space travel, convert CO2 into useful material, clean up oil spills and make education accessible to underprivileged communities.

We were inspired — and thought you might be too. Here’s how you can start creating the change you wish to see in the world.

Tap into Your Imagination

As kids, our imaginations run wild. We make spaceships out of cardboard boxes, play with imaginary friends, explore alternate universes and swing so high we can fly.

Somewhere on our way to adulthood, though, we lose the sense of awe and wonder that kept our imaginations alive. As for the women who dare to tap into the bold and unthinkable?

“People call them crazy. But guess what! Crazy is good!

In Ansari’s words, the imagination is “a unique gift we have as human beings,” one we need to make sure stays “protected and open and doesn’t have any boundaries.”

The very nature of change demands newness, and when granted proper freedom, our minds can envision beautiful, innovative things that don’t yet exist. Life-changing inventions stem from imagination.

So, where to begin? Write down all your “crazy” ideas. Tap into your childhood memories and re-awaken that colorful giant. It’s in there, and it’s been waiting for your next great idea.

Embrace What Makes You Different

Success can come from unexpected places. Sometimes what makes you different — from your competition, your coworkers and others in your industry — is exactly what will help you excel. So, don’t let those perceived differences hold you back.

The XPRIZE Foundation designs public challenges (that means you — yes, you — can enter) for technological developments that benefit humanity, and they’re public for a reason. According to Ansari, the most important thing is having “the passion and the desire and the curiosity to dig into a problem and try to solve it.” In a recent competition designed to find ways to more effectively clean up oil spills in the ocean, the finalists were a tattoo artist and a dentist. With the right partners, their unique angle was able to create something truly amazing.

Be open to new experiences. You could have an impact in the most unexpected place. Who knows? You might be exactly what the world needs right now.

Give Yourself Permission to Fail

Living a life with no regrets is much easier said than done. But all it takes is that first step.

Ansari teaches us that good grows on itself.

“When you take that first step and succeed, taking a leap won’t feel so hard.

“When you have an idea, when there’s a new career path you want to go after, when you want to learn a new skill, do it, try it,” Ansari says. “it doesn’t mean you will succeed … but at least you never have to ask yourself, What if?”

Ansari’s dream started with a desire to see the stars up-close and has evolved into countless successful endeavors promoting STEM education, youth empowerment, female entrepreneurship, space travel, world peace and so much more.

So, try. Acknowledge the little achievements. Don’t expect to be good at everything you do. In the end, it’s about giving yourself the chance to be as amazing as you can be!

The world needs you.