Since seeing Al Gore's movies and speaking in person in November, I've wanted to share what I see as the next step in leading people to live by their environmental values. I love what Al Gore has done so far and could learn more from him than he could from me, but I think the next step of environmental leadership will come from leaders living by their environmental values far more than any I know of are. An environmental leader causing more greenhouse gas emissions than the IPCC recommends, for example, is like a Surgeon General who smokes or eats sugar cereal. Changing his behavior without losing effectiveness may look hard, but I believe he can do it and will increase his effectiveness, though only by doing so will he figure out how. Whatever the initial challenge, he and his teams will find more ways to make themselves more effective, increasing his and their environmental legacies.
I recorded a preface to episode 142 because I got the backstage pass, attended the meet and greet, shook Sam's hand, and asked him if he was open to alternatives to conversation and violence. I won't be able to do his answer justice here, but his views of conversation and violence were broader than mine, so if he hears episode 142 without this preface, I suspect he'll think I don't understand his views. In a funny way, I hope he sees I misunderstood what he meant by conversation and violence because, as he'll recognize, I recorded that episode before his explanation, but more because I hope my being open to his more expansive view will open him to mine. He asked me about alternatives. I suggested a few, closing my answer with Mandela, Gandhi, King, and Havel. He described, as I recall and my hearing and memory aren't perfect, nonviolent civil disobedience as a mix of conversation with the people going to do it and violence in the form of disrupting others. But my not being able to give alternatives in the moment isn't a statement about there being alternatives, but my talking to him for the first time in a pressured situation, given the dozens of people waiting to talk to him.
In End of Faith Sam Harris says "We have a choice. We have two options as human beings. We have a choice between conversation and war. That's it. Conversation and violence." I like his podcast, listened to most episodes, read several of his books, support him with cash. I will see him in person this week for the first time at the Beacon Theater in Manhattan with Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman. It looks like I'll get back stage passes so may meet him. One of my goals with today's recording (that isn't obviously about the environment) is to prompt the chance of meeting in person. I support his initiatives on free speech, not just for myself and people who agree with me, freedom from religious oppression, identity politics, and more. I'm glad and grateful that he's approaching issues others fear to, even when I disagree with him.. Anyone who knows me knows I support and act for equality, diversity, freedom, environmental stewardship, universal education, healthy food, and access to all these things. Also empowering the individual, integrity, honor, personal responsibility, not victimhood or blame. As much as I support him and his message, this view that conversation is the only alternative to violence, or even the main one, is holding him back. In fact, he knows this. Where he has experience influencing other ways, he doesn't rely on conversation. For example: meditation. He created an app at great cost in time and money to give people experience meditating. He changed tremendously as a person from his experience meditating. As with many fields, he learned by practicing the basics and teaches that way. He would never consider propagating the practice of meditation by lecturing or merely sharing conversation about meditation except to promote acting on it. Acting is where change and learning comes from. Same with Brazilian Jujitsu. This episode is about how I believe Sam can reach potential beyond his current horizons, by leading, by which I don't mean manipulating, seeking compliance, and so on. In the end I invite him to appear on each other's podcasts. Cheeky? Gumption? I'm not sure, but I think we'd mutually benefit and be glad we did.
Today's post covers a dramatic proposal I see as a clear winner. It's big and bold but everyone benefits from it. Its challenges are in garnering support and implementation, but once started I see it sustaining itself as a national jewel. First some context. I've talked about my return from Shanghai a few years ago to a crumbling airport, creaky trains, and crumbling train stations. Anyone can see this nation's crumbling bridges, roads, and infrastructure. Same with my train trip across the country. Amtrak is a third-world train system. It measures its delays in hours. First-world train systems measure delays in minutes and seconds. As a New Yorker I see our subway, which carries billions of rides annually, has fallen to disrepair. Its slipshod weekend repair schedule means you can't predict what lines will work or how long to plan a trip. First-world systems have built whole cities worth of systems. Other cultures update old systems instead of starving them like ours. We act like a few new stations are a big deal. That pride is a shame. From New Orleans after Katrina, Miami's regular floods at high tide, New York after Sandy, California after earthquakes, Puerto Rico, Flint, MI, the list goes on, of our poor preparedness. Same with the aircraft carriers we send around the world after natural disasters. We do the best we can, but far from our potential. The climate-based challenges are only increasing as the planet warms. The future's normal is a world where such challenges are normal. We'll have to move cities. The nation lacks readiness to respond to aging infrastructure and climate change. Those problems are our future. I propose a civilian service academy. Its goal would be to teach trades -- construction, carpentry, electrical, programming, engineering, and so on. What we'd need to rebuild cities -- in the style of military academies, requiring academics, physical training, sports, arts, but civilian, not military. It would embody a culture of rigor that would include uniforms, marching, honor, service, and military precision, but not military. More like engineering precision. Making beds, teamwork. Elite opportunities. Leadership through practice. It would provide the leadership among and for the millions of students, veterans, and young people of McChrystal's program. Listen for more depth.
This podcast has featured some world-renowned guests, with more renown to come. Popular downloads include Dan Pink, multiple #1 bestseller, 40+ million TED talk views, Beth Comstock, former Vice Chair and CMO of General Electric, Marshall Goldsmith, #1 ranked leadership guru and author, Frances Hesselbein, Presidential Medal of Freedom honoree, Elizabeth Kolbert, Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Ken Blanchard, author, The One Minute Manager, over 13 million sold, Jonathan Haidt, #1 bestselling author, 8+ million TED talk views, Vincent Stanley, Director, Patagonia, David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, over 1 million sold, Dorie Clark, bestselling author, Jordan Harbinger, top 5 podcast, 4+ million monthly downloads, Doug Rushkoff, #1 bestselling author, producer, media theorist, Dave Asprey, founder Bulletproof, NY Times bestseller, Bryan Braman, Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagle, Marquis Flowers, Super Bowl highlight reel star New England Patriot, John Lee Dumas, top entrepreneurial podcaster, and more. Upcoming guests include an Olympic gold medalist, TED speakers with yet more views, and more. I'm speaking with a Victoria's Secret model and a Nobel laureate. I love meeting and talking to successful people who have overcome challenges, and I presume you do too, but I'm serving two goals: Materially measurable environmental results Emotional reward in doing so, meaning joy, discovery, meaning, purpose, and such as the leadership part I seek out renowned guests to achieve these goals. This episode explains the connection.
People seem to have a hard time imagining a world without growth, specifically economic growth or population growth. There's personal growth, but I'm talking about materially measurable growth. People seem to believe that economic growth is necessary. I've looked and haven't found any reasonable proof of its necessity. People say you need inflation to keep motivating people, but I don't see any founding for such a belief besides their unfounded, and apparently self-serving, idealism. We understand people and our motivations better than they used to when these economic theories started. Sadly, our financial and political systems keep operating on these flawed understandings. On the contrary, I've found societies that have lived for tens to hundreds of thousands of years, stably, which disproves that you need growth. Nobody thinks that if a thousand people were stuck on an island that had resources to sustain a thousand people indefinitely -- imagining a time without satellites and our modern ability to find any group of that size anywhere -- that those people couldn't figure out how to sustain themselves on those resources. Actually in such a situation, everyone sees growth beyond a thousand people would be a problem. We are in such a situation, only a bigger island. Today's post explores this view from several angles, including how it might guide living one's individual life.
When I played sports competitively, I once watched a pass go by me without trying because I thought I couldn't make a play on it. A teammate asked why I just watched. I said, "Because I couldn't reach it." He said, "At least try!" Larry Bird said something similar: "It makes me sick when I see a guy just watching it go out of bounds." The view has stuck with me. I haven't gone for every pass I could, but I respect when an outfielder sprints to the wall even when he know the ball will carry over the fence. The difference between watching and trying is meaning and purpose. I try for as many passes as I can. The pervasive environmental view, "If I act but no one else does then what I do doesn't matter," and the passive behavior it leads to, embodies a meaningless existence. I try in part today because I tried then. Today's post explores this view and several related ones in more depth.