16 October, 2007

Savouring life

What world are we leaving our children? Sharif Abdullah at the 2007 ICFA conference asked us to visualise a world that valued children first. This world would be nurturing, joyful, playful and teaching and caring would be highly valued vocations. Visualise a world where art and music are most valued, what would it be like? There would be colour, beauty, harmony and less struggling artists. Visualise a world that values money more than anything else and we have our current reality. We have bigger homes with smaller families, more personal debt, more personal consumer gadgets, more pollution and less clean air and less biodiversity to experience. Economically we are the best we have ever been. Yet suicide and depression rates are the highest on record.

It is difficult to know what to do, will our actions make the planet better or worse? Reducing our carbon emissions, recycling water, investing in renewable energies - will this make the planet better or worse? When living in a complex open system where the consequences of our actions are uncertain and future, it makes it more difficult to understand the effects of our choices. Very few people intentionally want to leave a depleted planet for our future generations. These same people are unable to comprehend the consequences associated with their high consumerism. Collectively we are continuing to deplete our earth's natural resources and eating ourselves out of this planet. Sure buying new things feels good, the feeling only lasts temporarily. If we understood the cradle to grave resources and processes that our consumerism creates we would all be more careful of our credit card purchases.

Are we overcompensating on consumerism to make up for the spirit less, disconnected lives we are living? Remember what gives us real joy,e.g. sunsets, nature, children's smiles, friendships, live music, aromas of fresh baking, playing our favourite sport - savouring life and being in the moment. Spirituality is feeling fully energised and connected to each other - all aspects of the planet.

What about another way of being? Imagine slowing down our day, our 24 hours are not rushing by, we are present and feeling the moments. We greet the day, we savour our food, we nurture and take care of our physical body and soul, we connect with nature, we exercise because we want to extend and experience the capability of our bodies, we speak to our neighbours, we create sustainable value in our vocations, we have deep conversations with our partners and friends, we contribute to our community, we exercise our passions and purposes and feel connected to the planet... We have more savouring experiences and less obsessions. We have less activities in our day and more heightened moments. We are full human 'beings' rather than human 'doings'. We are sampling and savouring life. Our challenge is to create connected organisations where all employees can exercise passion, purpose and can create sustainable value for all stakeholders including our biodiversity and future generations.

08 May, 2007

‘Work from the level you are at’

I recently had a catch up coffee with a long term colleague and he gave me some feedback which I found invaluable. He reminded me that my journey on environmental and social issues has been long, nearly 15 years and that I shouldn’t expect people to understand my perspective as most people haven’t even commenced their environmental and social awareness.

This was a great reminder for me. One of the most profound models I took out of Stephen Covey’s book ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’, is that you need to work at the level people are at and not from where you are at. If you are working from a mental model say at level 7 and your audience is at level 3 you need to connect back with them at level 3. Covey’s theory proposes that people can’t skip learning and awareness levels they need to work through each of the levels themselves.

My message for all of us is to work from the environmental and social awareness level to help restore the balance in our planet.

In 1993 I first heard David Suzuki speak live at a conference. I did not know who he was and what his message was about. When he started to explain the facts about exponential population growth and consumption and limits to our finite resources, his message awoke a part of me that I didn’t know existed. At that forum my head was spinning ‘What do you mean the earth has finite resources? Why are species being eradicated faster in our life time than ever before? Why wasn’t I told about our integral relationship with the earth and mother nature, why wasn’t this covered in my geography or biology class…’

We Westerners pride ourselves on our intellect and ability to provide a better lifestyle for ourselves and families. In our attempt to achieve better lifestyles we are working longer hours, experiencing higher rates of divorce, spending less time with our children, having less contact with nature and are experiencing higher rates of depression. Our inability to understand the consequences of our day to day consumerism and the impact on our earth and lifestyle frightens me.

Here are some questions that I hope will make an appropriate connection with your own life:

What is most important to you today?

What gives you the most joy?

What are you most passionate about?

If money wasn’t an issue how would you be spending your time on earth?

Life is not a rehearsal, how much of your day to day time is dedicated to your passions and what gives you the most joy?

When was the last time you walked in the park and really noticed your surroundings?

How do you feel when you are close to nature e.g. mountains, rivers, bushland, oceans, forests, deserts etc?

What gives you the most energy?

In answering some of these questions I hope that a level of environmental and social awareness has been rekindled.

I am not a ‘radical greenie’, I drive a car, enjoy my share of consumerism AND reduce, reuse, recycle and renew. I believe you can have your life comforts AND make a positive difference to our environment and society. I support animal adoptions to maintain our biodiversity, tree planting to offset carbon emissions, global and local social charities and ethical business investments. We compost our food waste, have a water tank, recycle water, subscribe to green energy and are investigating a solar energy solution. I shop locally and support my local community. I am not perfect and I still catch myself purchasing something ‘made in China’ and then having pangs of regret. None of us are perfect. Yin and Yang philosophy reminds us of the balance we all try to seek in our finite life.

My message today is to become aware and then start small changes in our life to restore the balance in our planet. As Nelson Mandela says – ‘it starts with us’.

22 February, 2007

Turn over a new LEAF

Do you want to make a difference and don’t know how?

At our last holiday my partner had a brilliant idea on how to make a positive impact on the environment. The tipping point has taken place and now the masses understand the need for renewable energies, reduction of emissions/pollutions, conserving water and saving our biodiversity. Most people know why, they just don't know how to make a positive personal contribution. We shouldn't wait for Government and Business to lead the way, we all can make a positive change in our world today. If we only knew how... Thats where we come in, we are going to make it so easy for people to make a positive difference today.
We came up with LEAFTM. LEAFTM provides a way for people who care about the environment to leave behind a better world for our children. LEAFTM stands for LIFE ENVIRONMENT ASSURANCE FOUNDATION, pay it forward for a better future. LEAFTM helps us to exercise choices to invest in our children’s future in practical ways including:
-Improving energy usage and reducing greenhouse emissions in the home
-Conserving the world’s biological natural diversity
-Investing in ethical companies that support sustainable business practices

Our role is to package practical home and lifestyle services for you - it is as easy as filling in one form and we will do the rest
LEAFTM is a membership based service and our aim is to make it easy and practical for you to implement change. There are two levels, Green Forest and Blue Sky, each offering a range of services and subscriptions from engage consulting group and our alliance partners. Membership Options
Green Forest membership provides:
Information and tips on saving energy and reducing greenhouse emissions at home to save money
·Membership to Greenfleet, a program that plants trees to reduce car emissions (tax deductible)
·Adoption of an animal through WWF Australia (tax deductible)
·Access to Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) Fact Sheets, events and programs
·A 1hr consultation with a Financial Adviser on Ethical Investing
Blue Sky membership provides all Green Forest membership benefits plus the following options:
·A one hour consultation with a Home Sustainability Consultant from Going Solar or Neco on practical home water and energy savings OR
A ‘Home Sustainability' Product Pack for kitchen, bathroom and around the house OR
If you wish, you can save up your points to the value of the above packages and services and use them for a larger purchase, for example 3 years membership points will provide you with approximately $300 value towards home sustainability products and services.

If you want more information please visit our website: http://www.engageconsulting.com.au/LEAF.html

If each of us made positive environmental changes to our home and lifestyle, we would solve our green house gas problems and provide a better future for our children. As Nelson Mandela said - 'it starts with me'. Be the change in your world.