What leadership brings to sustainability
Nearly every effort I see for sustainability use methods that don’t work, that promote resistance. They don’t inspire.
They tools like cajoling (â€œHere are ten little things you can do for the environmentâ€), coercing (â€œpeople will suffer if you donâ€™t actâ€), convincing (â€œIf you value your kidsâ€™ future, you should changeâ€), and authority (laws). Such methods imply nobody wants to do the things. You may gain compliance but reinforce the systemic values causing the problem. Nobody promotes Drinkless Driving Tuesdays or Seat Belt Wednesdays. We say never drink and drive because we believe sobriety always benefits everyone behind the wheel.
I inspire, people tell me. Not all, but most of my podcast guests enjoy the experience, do more than they promised, come back for second episodes, and refer me to peers.
Because I start with their intrinsic motivations. We all love nature. Lecturing about CO2 acting like a blanket or rate of extinction doesn’t connect with people’s passions. You might get compliance but not inspiration.
What happens when you inspire based on their passions and love for nature?
Before our emotions are extrinsic. After they are intrinsic.
Before we are told we have to act. After we get to.
Before we act to save ourselves. After we act to help others.
Before we fear running out of time. After we think we have little time so better act fast.
From â€œI donâ€™t want to bother people about thisâ€ to â€œI want to share my results so they can experience the joy too.â€
From â€œtechnology will save usâ€ to â€œwe will save ourselves.â€
From guilt about ourselves to compassion for past generations who unwittingly got us here.
From hoping in vain that the rich and powerful will do something to feeling we canâ€™t wait for the rich and powerful to get it and act with their resources too.
From not wanting to be lectured at to wanting to learn more.
From feeling we need to know more before actng to learning by doing, not waiting.
From â€œwhat about the most vulnerable?â€ to â€œsustainability helps the most vulnerable.â€
From thinking â€œonly governments and corporations can act on the scale we needâ€ to â€œthe fastest, most effective way to get governments and corporations to act is for me to start here now.â€
From fearing a nightmare future to acting enthusiastically in the present.
From â€œwhat I do doesnâ€™t matterâ€ to â€œI love what Iâ€™m doing, my results, and whom Iâ€™m becoming.â€
From â€œhavenâ€™t I done enough already?â€ to â€œWhat more can I do?â€
From helping myself first, even at the expense of others, to seeing that helping others helps me.
From believing that the beauty of the world is elsewhere, in places I have to fly to, to natureâ€™s beauty is everywhere, worth preserving, and worth restoring, and that flying destroys it.
From â€œwe have progressed linearly since civilization beganâ€ to â€œwe may have made a wrong turn at some point.â€
From believing that our culture must be the best ever to learning from other cultures.
From feeling we have to keep doing what got us here to being open to alternatives.
From fantasizing about a Star Trek future of unlimited clean energy to learning from a sustainable past and other cultures in the present.
From feeling constraints limit us to seeing constraints breed creativity.
From always craving, wanting more, never satisfied to meaning and purpose.
From â€œI need helpâ€ to â€œI can help.â€
From seeing our situation as an unprecedented disaster to finding role models who achieved comparable changes in similar time scales.
From wondering how to coerce, cajole, convince, manage, legislate, and use authority to sharing joy, fun, freedom, connection, community, meaning, purpose, and other rewarding emotions.
From trying to force people to sacrifice and deprive themselves to sharing joy with them.
From â€œWhat am I supposed to do about it?â€ to â€œHow many people can I bring aboard?â€
From â€œMore people is always betterâ€ to â€œOvershoot can lead to collapse.â€
From â€œMore people means more geniuses who can solve this problemâ€ to â€œif Jesus, Buddha, or Einstein were born today in a favela or slum, heâ€™d never reach his potential.â€
From â€œHow can I save myself and my family, no matter whom I have to abandonâ€ to â€œHow can I help? What example can I set? Whom can I lead?â€
From â€œitâ€™s too late to avert disasterâ€ to â€œthere are levels of disaster and everything we do can help alleviate suffering.â€
From feeling that accounting for how everything affects everyone is a burden to realizing that connecting to every living thing creates oneness and connection.
From â€œwhoever dies with the most toys winsâ€ to â€œstuff is a burden and less stuff creates freedom.â€
From â€œwe need clean energy first to reduce using fossil fuelsâ€ to â€œthe fastest, most effective way to create alternatives is to stop using fossil fuels.â€
From just wanting more bike lanes to first wanting to close car lanes.
From wanting quick fixes enough to fall for scams to changing based on our deepest values.
From seeing my changes as extreme to seeing me as a role model.
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