Leadership and the Environment features influencers who care about the environment leading by example by taking on personal challenges to live by their values—a challenge in today’s world. Guests have loved it for showcasing them as authentic, empathetic leaders and giving them a chance to act on values that they’ve put on hold.
Guests don’t need environmental expertise. They including luminaries such as
- Dan Pink, multiple #1 NY Times bestseller, over 40 million TED views
- Marshall Goldsmith, multiple #1 bestseller, #1 rated leadership coach
- Frances Hesselbein, Presidential Medal of Freedom honoree, CEO of Girl Scouts, named “Best leader in America” by Peter Drucker
- Elizabeth Kolbert, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and New Yorker writer
- Michael Bungay Stanier, WSJ bestselling author
- Tanner Gers, Paralympic U.S. gold medalist
- Jim Harshaw, All American Division 1 champion wrestler and coach
- Dorie Clark, #1 Leadership book of 2015 author
- Judith Glaser, founder and CEO of Benchmark Communications
Listen to Episode Zero, which describes the podcast’s origins and goals:
The podcast’s goal is to influence how society views reducing one’s environmental impact, as happened with cigarettes, drinking and driving, and wearing seat belts. We have enough science (though I support continuing research). We have enough people telling others what to do.
We lack people setting examples for others to follow.
I invite guests to choose their personal challenges by their values. Some have them in mind already. Most come up with them during the conversation. Examples include
- Avoiding meat for a month
- Avoiding packaged food for a week
- Not flying for a period of time
- Not turning on the air conditioner for a week if it’s summer
Each guest picks what’s right for him or her.
The general flow of conversation 1 will be
- Show you off for listeners new to you
- Invite you to commit to a personal challenge that:
- Doesn’t have to solve all the world’s problems overnight
- Meets your values
- You choose
- Is measurable
- Is relevant to at least one of: global warming, pollution, resource depletion, population, extinctions, etc
- You aren’t already doing
- Schedule a second conversation for after the challenge
- The facts: what happened
- How you felt
- How you handled unforeseen challenges
- How it affected you
- Will you keep it up
To illustrate, here is an email from a former leadership student, Jay, who challenged himself to pick up ten pieces of litter each day for a month to put in the trash, which I wrote up in this Inc. article. Your experience will be unique, but maybe something like his.
Today is the last day of my challenge, and I didn’t think I’d feel this way before I started, but I feel “weird” if I walk by a piece of trash and don’t pick it up now.
That’s not to say I pick up every single piece of trash I see, but that now it feels natural to want to reduce the waste I produce or the waste I can try to produce. When I see other people walk by trash or drop cigarettes in the middle of the street, I can’t help but think that they’re marginalizing their agency and the impact they can make in their community by just implementing one mundane action.
The first few times I stopped in the middle of the street to pick up a piece of paper and a plastic food container, I felt that same “weirdness” as I feel now if I don’t pick up a piece of trash. But that quickly went away once I reminded myself that I was acting on my values.
Just yesterday, as I picked up a piece of paper napkin someone had dropped 10 feet from a garbage can, I mused over how I’ve heard people say they wish they witnessed live MLK’s deliverance of his “I Have a Dream” Speech, or how they would have denounced the Holocaust had they lived in Nazi-occupied Germany and been non-Jewish Germans.
But if people can’t act on their values when the stakes aren’t high, then how can they expect to act on them when the consequences of their inaction affect not only themselves, but an entire group of people?
This thought wasn’t an indictment of people as being hypocrites, but more so that people either don’t truly believe in the values they purport to have, or know them but don’t challenge themselves to act on them more consistently/broadly.
Since starting the challenge, I’ve started using my A/C less without consciously thinking about it. I’ve started cooking more frequently again since finals and reduced the meat I consume from the meals I make from ~1.5-2lbs a day to ~1lb a day, using legumes to supplement for the deficit.
I like the fact that this challenge was ‘just right’ in that it caused me to consider my own waste production instead of managing other’s waste.
I’m heavily inclined to try going a week without buying any food that comes packaged. I just found a bulk store 5 minutes from my apartment so have no reason to not try it.
Plus I think trying a challenge of this nature is the next step in my first challenge, particularly for testing what ultimately could become a whole lifestyle change or, at least something that changes core parts of my current lifestyle.
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