The Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative
Issue 3 | March 2022


“Return to Purpose: Learning in an Age of Collapse”

In his fascinating paper from the Journal Intersections, Ahmed Afzaal writes about the dynamics of higher education leadership in the face of an unstable future. While obviously beneficial within his own academic sphere, the piece illuminates common errors within many human systems. These basic assumptions are, in essence, that we can return the world to a stable “normal” and that we do not need to question our leadership and management models when solving problems.

As Afzaal explores, any successful professional can stray into what he calls “single-loop learning”. Also called problem-solving, this means of addressing crises relies on the belief that the world functions in a fixed way. Therefore, we do not need to reassess our assumptions when solving problems. This model works fantastically in a fixed system. But the world is not static. He proposes an alternative, “double-loop learning,” where feedback from testing out solutions illuminates not only flaws in our strategy but the underlying assumptions informing our solutions. 

Afzaal expounds on the increasing rate of global crises, from financial collapse to pandemics and the climate crisis. This discussion then leads to his ultimate points. The first is that while colleges are very adept at teaching, in order to adapt and remain impactful, they need to become better able to learn. Learning from their failures, testing new assumptions, and adjusting how they measure learning are important places to start. His final conclusion is that organizational culture will also be better suited to return to purpose by learning to learn. Unfortunately, many organizations fall into an obsession with their bottom-line financials without considering the humanity of their own system. 

How can we apply Afzaal’s thoughts to the systems in which we operate?  

Hat tip to Bree Langemo, Ice House Facilitator and former president of ELI, for sending us this piece.

Return to Purpose



“How thinking about 'future you' can build a happier life”

If someone were to ask you to think about your future self, who would you imagine? In this piece from the BBC, the author discusses two general ways people answer this question. One is a relatively vivid picture of the self who is well connected to the person’s current identity. The other is, in many ways, a stranger to the present person. Interestingly, the difference between these is that the former are often individuals who make decisions with their future in mind. However, the latter individuals tend to make decisions without their future best interests at heart. 

“You could almost think about your future self as a relationship that needs to be nurtured and cultivated.” This article goes into the philosophical theories and psychological research that validate this “relationship” with our future selves. By practicing empathy with our future selves, studies show that we start to make choices that not only benefit our future selves but help us in the here and now. 

We at ELI often talk about the power of goals and vision. So why not start with ourselves?

Love the Future You

“The resilience imperative: Succeeding in uncertain times”

As we have examined this month, there are significant ways we should explore our personal and organizational frames of mind. To become resilient to an ever-changing future, we need to adjust our assumptions. This piece from McKinsey shows a direct call to action to make our organizations more resilient. 

The article outlines the imperative for organizational resilience while also describing the various dimensions of resilience we should consider. The authors offer up some strategies for companies and organizations to take to instill resilience in their culture. What is very encouraging about their strategies is the emphasis on using these initiatives to foster more substantial outcomes before there is a disruption. A blend of methods is available to shore up a business, and the article posits that a blend of all can best prepare us. 

Lastly, the authors offer us ways to assess our current resilience, how much we might need for the future, and therefore a means of designing a path forward.

Get Started



“Essential Life-Learnings from 14 Years of Brain Pickings: Choose Joy”

We end this month’s Top of Mind by reflecting on “choosing joy” from the blog formerly known as Brain Pickings (now The Marginalian).

Maria Popova writes beautifully about how we should choose joy “at first consciously, effortfully, pressing against the weight of a world heavy with reasons for sorrow, restless with need for action.” She urges us to choose joy despite all that the world throws at us in order to make it habitual. Practicing this choice helps us tend to the “little joys” that are often “the slender threads of which we weave the lifeline that saves us.”

Let this brief piece be a meditation on the importance of how we view the world and its power over the course of our lives.

Choose Joy


Top of Mind  


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