Together, for better or worse
Mahatma Gandhi -- 'Be the change that you wish to see in the world.'
As human beings we do not always co-create in the most sustainable or successful way. At times we act in constructive, life-enhancing, and responsible ways. And at other times we are destructive, to ourselves, to others and to our environments.
At the same time, the future should not be something we afraid of. There is evidence that humankind can learn from the past. But a sustainable future does not just happen. We create it together. Every year. Every month. Every day. Every minute. Every second.
Consciously stepping into collaborative change
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead
Building a more sustainable future needs many acts. These acts range from little acts of sustainability, such as using energy efficient bulbs, to managing large sustainability acts, such as managing scarce water resources, adapting to climate change, securing access to adequate nutrition, creating responsible value chains or improving energy efficiency.
Yet, what all these acts have in common is that they are easier to accomplish when they utilize new forms of collaborative inventiveness and, above all, when there are people who are willing to implement change jointly at all levels of our global society.
You are one of these people. The journey starts here. With you.
Whether you are already part of a sustainability initiative or a lone leader, wondering how to manifest your dream, or even find out what your dream is, now is the time to find new ways to collaborate.
If you have never consciously co-created, or if your current collaboration initiatives seem stuck in old limited structures, you may ask 'how'. How do I start this important journey?
A fractal crafting the whole
As with everything, your collaboration journey starts with the first step - understanding your own contribution to better co-creation. You are the fractal that can make a difference in the world, the member of a group of thoughtful citizens that can change the world.
You are a leader when you begin to engage with the future, when you draw people into collaboration, when you commit yourself to a larger goal. You are not alone on the journey; you are part of an existing global community for change.
Together we can do it
An African proverb that has been cited many times says:
"If you want to go fast, travel alone, if you want to go far, travel together."
The route to sustainable development is a long and winding road. We can only travel it together.
There is no need for radical break-ups, revolutions or sudden changes in activities, but it is important to listen to what your heart tells you - there is a chance to redefine your leadership contribution.
- Watch you heart - is it involved, where can you feel passion ?
- Act on the urge, no matter how small your steps are.
- Be persistent despite the odds and setbacks.
- Know that you need resilience and the willingness to risk familiar parts of your identity.
- Risk it anyway.
- Keep your heart engaged and your mind open to feedback,
- Notice subtle shifts in values. What was important before, might not be important anymore and new preferences and values will emerge.
- Be humble enough to accept that you are entering a learning process.
- Begin a conscious search. What do other people do? What has been written about the aspects that interest you? Who is meeting where and when on issues that align with your new journey?
- Accept that you need time to search for the place where your redefined contribution will be of most value.
- Allow yourself to enter into an experimental phase. Try out what speaks to you, read more on what inspires you.
- Do not go down one path too quickly, but design your own research project.
- Embrace the present.
- Be aware of the possibilities for change that lie close to you
- Contact people you want to learn from or be inspired by.
- Value the humanness and imperfect aspects of the people you meet.
- Notice and honour chance encounters: sometimes they hold hints and pieces of wisdom that you can integrate into your journey.
- Remember: Other people are also journeying in search of meaning.
- Be on the lookout for fellow travellers: be sure that even in the most rational and pressurizing climate you are still in the midst of human beings with similar searches, aspirations and the desire to contribute.
- See through shortcomings (yours and others') with compassion
- Assume that everybody has a deeper intention to serve the world, no matter how deeply buried.
People who empower each other are able to jointly make a difference. I believe it is time to scale-up this Empowerment.
What will your next step towards collaboration be?
Petra is the author of several books, including the Art of Leading Collectively. She also regularly blogs at her website 'The Future of Leadership is Collective'.