Category Archives: leadership

Ramblings of a ChangeAgent: The Sustainability Challenge Prt1

It’s absolutely incredible the amount of information and theories that are out there and how they are being integrated to better explain our sustainability issues. The first thing that comes to mind is that there is definately and clearly some kind of green revolution or what was referred to by Joanna Macy as “the turning point”  .  Modern civilization has created disastrous outcomes from environmental to social, population and cultural threats to such ills as terrorism, drugs and depersonalization in today’s major cities. It is clear that it is time for a change and it needs to happen soon.  The question is why is it not happening fast enough?  Many proposals, summits, conferences have been done but change seems to be slow? Why? Maybe we need to get to a stage of chaos for people in this world to realize how serious this whole thing is and for change to happen.
 
Humanity seems to embody an essential inconsistency. While our capacity of cognition allows us to clearly see the dangers facing the human race, our ability or our readiness to combat these dangers in a truly resolute fashion and on a global scale is very limited. Our technological advancements and progress in knowledge maybe our downfall.  I think humans are doing what is called the ostrich like approach, disregarding the long term global problems in the hope that they will have no fatal effects within our lifetime and concerning ourselves instead just with today and tomorrow ( which is what I think symbolizes common society).
 
There needs to be an internal realignment and shift in human minds, thinking and way of looking at things otherwise change will never be possible.  There needs to be changes in perception of responsibility not on the institutional leaders but transference to the people.  This cannot be done by systematic reforms, administrative measures and technical tricks.  If we look at how people from different races, cultures regions can all wear the same type of clothes or listen to the same type of music even though they all so different.  I find it interesting that the young people of today are influenced so much by pop music and fashion.  And I wonder what we could possibly learn from such in order to engage not only youth but people in issues that matter such as environmental sustainability and community development.
 
What stood out to me is, how do we create change in a world where there is this push for globalization but at the same time nations are fighting to have an identity. We are heading irreversibly into a multipolar and multicultural world.  It is important to find commonality between the various different groups to bring them together.  And something I found particularly interesting is that I picked up from some articles was the issue of a shared spirituality amongst people.  There is a need for a spiritual renovation to facilitate change in the world and realign everyone.  At the same time by emphasizing the importance of this so called shared spirituality we need to integrate science and the so called spiritual side. But I don’t know if this will be possible since there is a large focus on science and I don’t know it is slightly idealistic to think such integration is possible.
Something else that stood out for me was the systemic thinking in terms of sustainability and ecology. Our greatest challenge is to build and nature sustainable communities that social, cultural and physical environments to satisfy needs and aspirations without diminishing the chances of future generations.    However the meaning of Sustainability has become distorted over the years and used out of context.  So what is sustainability in these communities? Not economic growth or development, or competitive advantage.  
Sustainable communities are designed in ways that technologies and social institutions cooperate with natures ability to sustain life.   To survive this, it may be important to have what was referred to in one of the readings as ecological literacy.    Our academic disciplines could be imprisoning us and  making it difficult to understand and to integrate with other disciplines and work toward sustainability.  so we need to work together.
 
I think is also important to highlight that there is a difference between knowledge and understanding.  Knowledge does not equal understanding.  We as humans need to note that our understanding is fragmented.  And to help this there is need for a new language to enable understanding.
It has been highlighted to me during my time at school that there a difference between having a leadership position and being a leader.  It now beyond the demand and control paradigm and need for a shift to a type of leadership where there is someone who facilitates change and the rotation of power.  Leadership starts with leading yourself and eventually that change can radiate and inspire others to be a leader.  Leadership means leading the process of change:  Become aware of change, Bring about decisions, Build relationships between people, and make resources available.
I have come to the conclusion that maybe due to the leadership shown by some of the leaders of today, it may be impossible to infiltrate and try and change them, even if a space for change is established. 
Maybe if I could use the Blue strategy as inspiration, that we as the future leaders we need to create a space for a new type of leadership and shared responsibility.  Something the traditional model does not offer.  We as the age of social enterprises have the competitive advantage that most governments and businesses will not have and we can become more powerful (in a positive and non-corrupt way of course) and drive for collective change and a collective consciousness where we all feel the creative tension to work towards a sustainable world and work towards eliminating the many of the world’s problems caused by the people currently in leadership positions.  To be a good leader one needs to a good follower.  I also feel like I agree with what was said by Joanna Macy that there are some things that need to be considered.  Changes in values, change or restructuring of our institutions and governments and lastly the type of actions that we do what she referred to as “holding actions”.  There is also an important emphasis on systems thinking.
Since our system and the interrelatedness with these other systems is so complex.  I ask myself is this responsibility I have placed on myself possible?  Will i be able to facilitate change? Will I be able to engage people into issues that matter like sustainable development? Will the world be able to go through this shift in human consciousness in time? If so what qualities should I cultivate?  I think I feel slightly overwhelmed with all these concepts, theories and the actual reality of our socio-ecological system. 
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