The sun was shining yesterday in Oxford, as the 12th Skoll World Forum kicked off its three-day convening of 1,000 delegates eager to accelerate entrepreneurial approaches and innovative solutions to the world's most pressing problems.
On the agenda hosted by Stephan Chambers, who helped found the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship 10 years ago, was a conversation about belief.
They discussed belief's ability to inspire change, and propel us forward. To help start the conversation speakers such as founder and chairman of the Skoll Foundation Jeff Skoll and Archbishop Desmond Tutu shared their personal beliefs. One common theme was that belief is often rooted in the lessons that we learn from home--but it is for us to decide which ones we choose to carry forward.
Jeff was interviewed by Mabel van Oranje of Girls Not Brides, and shared his belief that we are all interconnected--that there is a force greater than all of us. Jeff's beliefs are based on the values instilled by his parents, and by past experiences--seeing the dire way that people live in other parts of the world; loving to read as a young boy and being inspired by the power of stories; and as an entrepreneur, believing that anything can be accomplished when people rally around shared values.
Jacqueline Novogratz, CEO of Acumen, challenged us to think about other aspects of belief: What are the beliefs that make us more beautiful, and allow us to bring our best selves into the future; to bring our best selves to a world that is waiting for solutions?
Archbishop Desmond Tutu shared an infectious smile, commenting that when you come to believe that you count, you have a worth that is unquestionable. His daughter, Rev Mpho Tutu, shared that the faith she brings forward is one that she lives and experiences, not one that is written.
The Terrorist's Son author Zak Ebrahim talked about being taught by his Muslim extremist father about the kinds of people he should associate with, and said that it was the isolation that was one of the most important ingredients to being indoctrinated. When he started to have more diverse interactions, it was those relationships that helped change his perspective.
Finally, Ophelia Dahl, president and executive director of Partners in Health and daughter of the writer Roald Dahl, grew up in a creative home, which inspired her with equal parts imagination and pragmatism. It is this perspective that gave her the inspiration and belief that she can change the world.
In the days to follow, the conversations around belief will continue to resonate throughout the halls of Oxford. What are the beliefs that inspire you?
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