People want pure, clean, safe air and water but keep polluting. We want to steward this beautiful Earth we inherited. Many feel If I act but everyone else doesn’t, what difference does it make?
Leaders help create meaning and purpose. Leaders help people do what they want but haven’t.
This podcast brings leadership to the environment—replacing doom and gloom with acting on your values, joy, and integrity.
You’ll hear leaders act on their environmental values, struggle, and then say: I wish I had done this earlier. Thank you for getting me to start!
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Our first in-person expert panel featured
Episode 000: the back story:
210: How many children should I have?
How many kids should you have?
I've heard people justify how many kids they should have for various reasons.
I think of how decisions happen. We tend to decide first, based on emotions---the wiring we were born with that helped our ancestors live---then rationalize it to make it feel right now that we've decided to do it. If our motivations don't match what we claim our reasons are, might we be acting on motivations that don't help us or even hurt us?
In this episode I consider how we might be acting against our interests in deciding how many children to have if we have too many.
Laura and I explore the feelings and emotions around our environmental behavior, specifically that we don't like, like throwing away food. I predict you'll find her descriptions of how people feel familiar.
In other episodes I've shared how I find that our emotions are causing our environmental problems, not CO2. The behavior of CO2 simply results from our behavior. That's why I feel what's missing is leadership: influencing people's emotions. Now people consider acting on the environment a chore, distraction. If we want people to like acting on their environmental values, it will help to help them connect rewarding emotions.
Laura describes the emotional landscape of someone not acting on their values, and how to change them. This concept of saying people don't care inhibits people from acting. I find everyone cares. To say the don't makes them feel you don't understand them, which undermines your ability to influence them.
I can't stand people making environmental behavior a moral issue. If you say to someone that they don't care, they think, "I do care. If you think I don't, up yours. You're not superior." But discounting others' emotions and cares create more counterproductive results: it leads them to think of their justification for what behavior affected the environment, reinforcing the feeling you're trying to change.
It's like when trying to attract a guy or girl who isn't showing you attention. I recommend not asking, "why don't you find me attractive?" or similar questions. Whatever feelings they had, you led them to voice them, which solidifies and strengthens them. Now they find you less attractive more strongly.
Tell someone they don't care about the environment and you lead them to keep doing what they were doing.
People have done it with you.
Laura speaks thoughtfully and with experience on how we feel and react, which I consider the major frontier for environmental action now that the science is clear. It's also most people's major frontier to improve their lives.
Remember how enthusiastic Caspar sounded at the end of the first episode?
He made doing his commitment sound so easy. Well, sometimes it is, but not always. He emailed me to postpone, saying he hadn't done as much as he expected. I asked him to consider sharing his actual experience, not a romanticized version of it. This podcast isn't supposed to say changing your beliefs and habits is easy, but to recount how it happens. I believe that when people act for personal reasons, even if it's hard
Change can be hard even for people who speak and coach change. So I commend Caspar on sharing openly, even what likely made him feel vulnerable, but it was valuable to others. It's also what leaders do.
What Caspar shared with his son, I found touching. His son had been sharing with him for longer than he knew. This experience opened him to connecting with his son.
I hope listeners are seeing that people care deeply on the environment and are acting more all the time. People who act today become leaders because everyone who wants clean air, land, and water wants to follow. The longer you wait, the less connected with this community of leaders you are. Also the more dirty your air, land, and water.
Acting on your environmental values builds community, especially with family, the closer they are the more to bond on, assuming they like clean air, land, and water. Episode 2 is coming up.
People tell me they prefer personal stories and stories of humility, not just success.
Well, this morning I messed up my fig tree. I'm still learning about gardening. I felt like a brute.
Plus you can hear about my morning holocaust of bugs.
This episode is about doing what others don't, but want to.
We recorded it nearly 2 years ago when I was still getting into my groove. We start talking what sounds like about oranges but we're talking about leadership -- doing what others want to but don't. It may sound weird at first, but turning one healthy food into two unhealthy foods looks pretty weird to me.
Everyone I know says "You shouldn't care so much what other people think," usually in a condescending voice, but they succumb to social pressure too to keep doing what everyone else does. Leaders find ways to do what they value.
Jeremy shares his journey of addressing what others think and learning to manage it. Look at the guests on his podcast as a measure of his leadership skills. We also laugh a bunch. It was a fun conversation. We talk about sales, athletics, podcasts, and more.
Acting on your environmental values feels weird at first, sometimes, but we have to change our behavior if we expect to avert the greatest disasters that could happen. If you value clean air, land, and water, you'll have to lead others.
Jeremy put his money where his mouth was for the challenge.
For whatever reason, he had low awareness of environmental anything, so taking on a challenge, no matter the scale, seems like a big deal no matter the scale from others' perspective. Lower cell phone usage doesn't reduce power use that much but does something. Regarding this conversation, it puts him up for judgment. Since I know what happened in his challenge, I know that it led to more change and discovery than he expected.
Actually, I learned that while a cell phone may not use much power, using it causes a lot of power use on remote servers. The cell phone's battery isn't as important as their power demands on the internet's infrastructure.
The U.S. is ramping up its Presidential campaigns. The environment is an issue for many reasons. At first you'd think because of global warming, plastic, mercury in fish, extinctions, bees are mysteriously dying, and so on.
But any candidate knows it's important because people care about it. Any leader knows that when people care, a leader can tap into that emotion and motivation. One of my definitions of leadership is helping people do things they wanted to but haven't figured out how.
I'm going to help you, political candidate, help voters achieve what they want but haven't figured out how. Because an overwhelming majority of people can see the litter on their ground, probably on their property, to know our environmental problems are out of control but they don't want them that way. Everyone knows back-to-back 500 year storms are trouble.
Nearly everyone treats environment as problem to resolve.
At root they treat it as a burden or a chore. We don't want to do it but we have to.
We really want to keep doing what we're doing.
Today's post shows how to lead them to change and enjoy it.
I've known Michelle longer than almost any guest. I met her in business school, which would mean 2005 or 6.
She may be the friendliest guest of the show, partly from our being friends. But I've seen her in a room of unknown people where she attracts people. They like her. It happens from skills she learned through practice. She's devoted herself to teach and develop them in others.
I know because she wasn't always that way, nor did becoming that way come naturally, as she shares. She approaches connecting to help you develop your skills and to enjoy your results. To make the work feel good and for you to feel good working.
I have little patience for people whose idea of connecting and networking means exchanging business cards only. I don't know what happens in other fields, but after you write a few books, coach a few executives, and give a few talks, LinkedIn floods you with people claiming to help you find clients, market your books, and so on. They claim to be connectors and to help you connect. They claim. I've found almost none deliver.
Michelle is the opposite. She creates meaningful connections. She creates networks where people want to help you.
Anyway, after our early joking, Michelle gets into her specialty to hear what her book is about. The self-leadership aspect of this episode is rooted in changing your self, your identity, your story, your inner monologue, and such elements of personal leadership. Michelle lives it. She writes about it. She shares it for you to develop.
I consider these skills among the most important that you can earn.
When we get to the environment, I'd say it sounded moderately important to her, but she sounds like she's taking on her challenge with enthusiasm.
Too many people present environmental action as a chore. I try to lead people to feel otherwise. Michelle transformed her frame automatically. I saw unconscious competence.
A friend introduced me to Hunter and I met her in person a day she was teaching in Bard's MBA program.
I felt the root of our conversation was responsibility. We know what to do. We don't need more technology. We lack political will -- leadership. I hear it over and over.
We cover her history, experience working on sustainability, and the people she's worked with. She works with organizations, in contrast with many environmental groups, though she works to replace them, when appropriate.
The big view that got me thinking was the inevitability of the energy transition she expects by 2030. I'm cautiously optimistic about it. You have to hear it in her terms. It's the opening quote in the audio, though listening more will give you the context.
First, wait until you hear what she says about the economic transition.
I hear a lot of people's reasons for not flying, for using single-use plastic, for leaving the air conditioner on when they're not home. I know them not just because people told them to me. I know them because I'm human and we all think similarly. When I want something that pollutes, I feel my mind justifying why getting it should be okay.
It took years of training my mind to resist that knee-jerk thinking and to consider not just what I get from, say, flying or using the air conditioner, but how my actions affect others—also known as the golden rule.
We believe we use logic to come up with reasons for doing things. We don't. Our ancestors made choices before we evolved reason. We choose and then back-rationalize those choices to feel better.
In other words, the "reasons" we claim to use to justify our behavior, to fly or own slaves knowing we're causing helpless, innocent people to suffer, aren't reasons. They're rationalizations. The motivation comes from I feel like it, usually to preserve ourselves from feeling bad, like facing how much we're violating the golden rule, or not working hard to change the system that we claim victimizes us, lying that we have no choice but to fly or continue owning and beating slaves.
The upside to all this is that we can change these feelings. Not only, can we. Doing so is the greatest skill to improve our lives. It's what Viktor Frankl did to feel bliss and love amid Nazis torturing him. It's what leads us to prefer broccoli to Doritos. It's how I feel closer to nature while picking up other people's garbage than passing it by, despite my actually touching plastic.