Working on the book proposal, I finally saw how to illustrate what’s missing from sustainability. It’s simplicity almost embarrasses me that I didn’t think of creating it before, except that I remember that simplicity comes from more work, not less.
The Venn diagram below illustrates what we’re missing. We don’t lack facts or bold ideas. We lack leaders experienced in
- Science and complex systems
- Living sustainably, not just talk.
It won’t come from scientists, professors, journalists, or politicians—the “experts.” I put the term in quotes because, however brilliant and effective in their fields, they don’t know how to lead effectively. Facts, figures, and telling people what to do rarely motivate, especially longstanding habits and culture.
Leaders in other fields who don’t know science promote plans that sound good but don’t work.
Scientists who haven’t led lecture without motivating. They tell us the problem but make us feel frustrated for not feeling motivated.
Either without experience acting sustainably are like a doctor who smokes, giving useless advice people ignore. Or an alcoholic telling people not to drink.
Do you know anyone in the green overlap? I believe I belong there. I can think of maybe one or two others. I’d love to learn more.
To go into more detail, a world-class sustainability leader needs excellence and experience in many areas:
- Nature and science
- Leading in general
- Leading in sustainability, not lecturing, preaching, coercing, cajoling
- Starting organizations and building teams
- Managing teams
- Acting in stewardship—not just speculation
- Public speaking and media appearances
- Writing, ideally a bestseller
- Impeccable credentials
A leader must also not:
- Say one thing and do another
- Tell others to do what they don’t
- Lecture, preach, coerce, or cajole
That’s a yet smaller region of overlap in a Venn diagram.
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