Are you looking for a guaranteed fail-safe way of bringing about sustainable development?
Well, as a species, we’ve never made the transformational leap from globalised unsustainability to a sustainable society, so I’d guess that we don’t, yet, know how we’ll do it.
We’ll make the path by walking.
We do know which attitudes will help us.
We have to experiment. We have to take a leap of faith. We have to do something.
And, at the same time, we have to be patient and wonderfully alert to the impact our experiments are having. We have to just sit there.
‘Doing something’ and ‘just sitting there’ is quite a trick to pull off.
‘If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’
We need to go far. And we need to go quickly. So we’d better figure out how we’re going to do both.
The pace of change
Those of us who are helping to create whole-system change towards sustainable development – whether we’re “tempered radicals” or “stones in the shoe” – can feel that we are not moving fast enough, strongly enough or deeply enough. As the signs of unsustainability escalate, how can we be effective and inspirational when we’re feeling downcast about the pace and scale of progress?
From surveys I’ve conducted with organisational change agents, one of biggest tensions they talk about is the gap between the change we can see needs to happen, and the change we see happening as a result of our efforts. My consulting practice specialises in helping change agents understand their options, experiment and reflect on what works.
Support each other
We also feel the agony of incongruence – the recognition that our own footprint is bigger than a one-planet fair share, despite our best efforts and despite setting ourselves up as sustainability change makers. How do we make sense of this without either complacently excusing it, or sinking into disempowerment?
Conversations about these difficult issues often happen ‘at the margins’ – over a coffee or as we’re walking from the meeting room to the lift. People are also starting to build their own support structures: co-coaching, action learning sets, informal networking, e-groups and chat forums, walking and talking together. People are recognising their need for support and finding ways to help each other. My coaching practice came about because I want to help sustainability change makers and those who facilitate collaboration be as effective as possible. And still conversations are a trusting space for peer learning, where sustainability leaders can think aloud without lectures or competition.
By finding people to support us, and by supporting our colleagues, we can stay effective as we make the path to sustainable change. It’s only by sharing our concerns with each other that we’ll overcome our obstacles. By journeying together we can go far. By sharing our individual traveller’s tales we can go faster.
So you may want to ‘just sit there’ and reflect on this. And you may want an action to take. Try this:
- Ask yourself: Who can help me?
- Ask yourself: Who can I help?
Then pick up the phone and talk with those people.
Can I help you?