Transition Leadership Stories
Original voices, thoughts, approaches and accomplishments from leaders in transition.
Profiling diverse perspectives on the transition to a low carbon, socially equitable economy from business, academia, government and the non-profit community.
When we work in climate leadership, we’re functioning in a space that shines a light on people’s fears, anxieties, prejudices. There’s so much denial and guilt in this space, deep-seated emotional conflicts that people work extremely hard to contain.
Typically we each enter the field of sustainable business through a particular door – extreme weather perhaps, noticing changes in our local bird populations, maybe conversations with our children. Once we open the door and really start to see the scale of the challenges we face, the stark facts of the science, it can be overwhelming. And frankly, if you’re not overwhelmed, you’re not paying attention.
That overwhelm, however, can quickly lead to burn-out. When we start to see how everything is connected to everything else – that migration and the rise of anti-immigration and identity politics is connected (not always obviously at the moment) to crop failures and extreme weather, to habitat loss, to the widening rich-poor inequalities … where do we start? Where do we stop?
Now, in societies and ecosystems already stretched to the breaking point, arrives the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, a global crisis destabilizing the very fabric of our lives. It is casting into sharp relief the questions of what we really need, and for many, presenting opportunities, the space and time to reflect on our impacts and our choices.
In this time of crisis, how do we each recognize the problems and continue to find strength and act to address them?
The point is that with all this, it’s vital we are also looking after ourselves, our mental health, our ability to function and not burn ourselves out. We have to find ways to deeply connect to who and what really matters to us and build in capacity for self-care to ensure our resilience. And I’m speaking as one who is rubbish at it!
Whatever it is that enables you to recharge – connecting with others digitally, being on your own, spending time with family, being outside and in nature, exercise – those become ever more important.
It’s these changes, these personal resilience priorities that matter. And finding the people too who share your values and who mentor and inspire you. Your tribe.
Focus on purpose
In conclusion, in the fine words of Peter Block …
“We might put aside our wish for safety and instead view our life as a purpose-filled experiment whose intention is more for learning than for achieving and more for relationship than for power, speed or efficiency”.
If we could each do a little more of that – focus on purpose rather than achievement or needing to get the credit for results – paradoxically we could together achieve an awful lot.