675: Derek Sivers, part 1: Leading versus Exploring Frontiers
I bring leaders from all areas to sustainability. The challenges to changing culture to sustainability aren’t in technology, science, journalism, activism, or politics, though all those fields are relevant. Their practitioners generally aren’t skilled in what changes culture: the social and emotional skills of leadership. Most people don’t know that living more sustainably improves their lives, not the reversion to the Stone Age or Mad Max apocalypse our culture teaches us to fear.
From the start of the conversation, Derek distinguished that he sees himself as an explorer, not a leader. He’s exploring the frontiers of life following his whim or what he finds around him. He suggests that leaders give more direction to others to help them follow. He acknowledged with a “touché” that he does have a lot of followers, one of my main measures of a leader.
The next day, he posted to his page some related thoughts in, Explorers are bad leaders, which sparked lively debate in his comments. Many suggested more overlap than you might think.
His distinction led me to consider my role. I hadn’t thought about seeing myself as exploring the frontier, but I have been. When I’ve had the option of leading others and exploring more frontier, I’ve generally chosen to explore more frontier.
Some examples: avoiding packaged food seemed impossible and took me six months to start. When I succeeded, instead of helping others follow that difficult challenge, sharing recipes and how I did it, I then chose not flying. Avoiding flying seemed harder than avoiding packaged food. When I succeeded in making a better life without it, instead of helping people along, I unplugged my fridge, then my apartment.
Maybe I’m exploring the frontier of sustainability more than leading. Still, it’s funny to call a frontier territory where all humans lived for 300,000 years. I’m working on developing leadership skills and techniques that work.
Anyway, listen to the episode to hear how Derek got me thinking about my role and what’s next for sustainability. We geek out on emacs, vi, and such things. I think I can safely say he sounded intrigued and will likely be back.