In “Leadership and the Environment,” which matters more: leadership or environment?

April 14, 2018 by Joshua
in Leadership

A friend sent a link to an article about how we can save the environment.thinking man

People consistently suggest potential guests for my podcast who do environmental things. I’m glad that they’re thinking about the environment. but they don’t get what I’m doing. There are already plenty of people working on spreading environmental facts, knowledge, tips, analysis, and telling people what to do. It got us far, but I think they’re missing what will get people acting, which is leadership—creating meaning, purpose, joy, and other rewarding emotions, plus teamwork, community, and so on.

People hear “Leadership and the Environment,” fix on the environment part, and miss the leadership part.

For context, I’ll share what an architect friend once told me. She asked, “In the term ‘affordable housing,’ which term is more important, ‘affordable’ or ‘housing’?”. Her answer was “housing,” explaining that if a place isn’t livable, its affordability doesn’t matter, which made sense to me.

Likewise, as long as we treat environmental action as something special, distracting, depriving, or sacrificing, we will never want to do it. What drives me is the joy, fun, discovery, growth, and most of all deliciousness I gained from acting on my environmental values.

I wrote to my friend who sent a video on some dreamer talking about how we could change the world in principle but with no implementation plan the following (she had started a fitness business based on rowing):thinking woman

Remember how you said you didn’t set out to make a rowing business, you set out to deliver the best workout you could, it just kept coming back to rowing? It sounded important to distinguish “the best workout” from “a rowing studio.” If I read you right, similarly, I distinguish “leadership applied to the environment” from “environmental interest.”

I consider innovating in the leadership part far more important than in the environment part. Environmental innovation is important, such as in technology, and I support it, but we already know we can solve our biggest environmental issues with the technology we have—if we act. The problem is that we aren’t acting despite knowing what to do. That’s a failure of leadership.

Leadership to me is about joy, emotional reward, fun, passion, meaning, purpose, value, community, and so on, which come from living by one’s values. It’s the opposite of guilt, blame, dreaming, or planning without action based in your values.

That video was on the environment but closer to engineering than leadership.

My goal is to bring out the emotional reward, community, and those things I listed above from living by our environmental values. So people stop feeling “I want to act but if no one else does then it won’t make a difference” which is resignation and sad. The video doesn’t lead people to act. It just talks about an idea. But talking about your business doesn’t make your customers happy. Building it did, and delivering what they love.

Again, I’m glad people keep working on science, technology, and education, and I support them. I think most people feel something like “I want to act but if no one else does it won’t make a difference.” People like that aren’t lacking science, technology, or education. Also, problems like Jevon’s paradox undermine or reverse would-be benefits of technology.

We lack leadership.

I’m working on leadership and applying it to the environment.

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