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’.

No comments: