Our society is at once highly individualistic and yet deeply integrated. If the physical technology that granted mass intercontinental travel hadn't done it, the internet has now truly connected our species across the globe. As with any major change, disruption is part of the process and we can definitely see and feel it in our workplaces, which are struggling to adapt to new technologies and demographic changes. And while it is good to celebrate the progress that has been made in raising standards of living, we must accept that our way of life and our global systems are putting an immense strain on the earth's biodiversity and climate - to the detriment of ourselves and the more-than-human world.
So how do we fix this problem?
Through my experience working in the sustainability world with many different types of people, I have learned that teachers are everywhere if you are open to perspectives. This is how nature works - in community, with each organism bringing unique contributions to the wider ecosystems. If we want to thrive in this world, we are going to need to learn from nature and embrace ecological thinking.
This type of thinking opens doors to new possibilities for how we live, work, and play. We are a species that came out of this world, and as such have the capacity to belong to it. When we widen our sense of self to include the environment we inhabit, our relationship to it changes. From a business perspective, some people have described this way of thinking as the circular economy, doughnut economics, or the regenerative economy. In principle, it asks how we work with nature rather than against it.
Our society is struggling to respond to what nature is asking of us. What happens if in our attempt to meet the moment, our responses discover new ground? As Rilke said in Letters to a Young Poet:
“try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue...Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
Rilke is pointing at a universal truth: we must become comfortable with the ambiguity and unknowingness that accompanies growth and change. The familiar feels safe because it is known, but it has also created the problem that we are now trying to solve. How can we make the unknown feel safe? That is a question I love because it is evergreen, shapeshifting with every new situation. And it is pointing to a way of being.
Aldous Huxley wrote in The Perennial Philosophy that knowledge itself is a function of being. Therefore, to change our way of being is to change how and what we know. And we have all experienced this. Think of how a moment of vulnerability between yourself and another can completely transform your relationship with them. The neighbour whose politics you can't stand shares that they're worried about losing their job and not being able to help their kid go to university. Moments like this present a choice. Remain closed, or become open and create a new space in which the two of you belong together.
Business as usual is an unworkable way forward. We need both individuals and organizations to embrace the challenge of embedding the values of sustainability, equity, diversity, belonging, and mindfulness into this emerging generation of workplace culture.
Every person can and should introduce an element of ecological awareness into their responsibilities. Through storytelling, workshops, dialogue, coaching, and mindfulness my passion is to transform individuals and teams so that we can transform systems. We all have a role to play, let’s discuss the questions that help us do so from a place of Good Being. Check out the services page to learn more or to book a discovery call.