Learning from after the sustainability revolution
“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” – Arthur Schopenhauer
I have kept a copy of this quote at hand for many years. You may remember when environmentalists were ridiculed as “Tree Huggers” and when “Save the Whales” was a hippy dippy slogan. Well, today, we are all environmentalists. Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth” is now a terrible reality as the world is devastated by extreme weather.
But what happens now?
The challenge is different and those who led the revolution will not necessarily be the ones leading the world through this reality. Governance is a different challenge to revolution. Every client we have, every business conversation we witness and every strategy we help create has, at its center, the sustainability imperative: in a circular economy less must mean more.
Promoting sustainability is not the same as leading a strategy after the sustainable revolution. It would be like promoting industry after Ford’s Model T. From here on in it is about inspiring adoption of new ways, benefiting from new approaches and appreciating new experiences.
Images of the natural world, outstretched palms with soil or seedlings, happy workers in unhappy places and lonely polar bears do not inspire change because they are not inspirational. Inspiration is an invitation to be different or do something different and for inspiration to work it must be exciting and joyful. It requires the rhetoric of possibility.
The only change you can truly control is the change you choose for yourself. Our challenge is to inspire the change people want to adopt. The good news is that, after the sustainability revolution, people want to change a lot.