It’s been a rough day. I’ve had to be vividly conscious of letting everything flow through me, not hold onto anything that I could not control, and even some that I could, I had to give up because it wasn’t about me.
It brought to mind part of one of my favourite YouTube clips: “The Girl Who Silenced the World for 5 Minutes”. In 1992, Severn Suzuki (now Cullis-Suzuki) addressed the United Nations Earth Summit at the age of 12. In part of the talk, she says “At school, even in kindergarten, you teach us how to behave in the world. You teach us: not to fight with others, to work things out, to respect others, to clean up our mess, not to hurt other creatures to share – not be greedy. Then why do you go out and do the things you tell us not to do?” Good question.
Apply these basic lessons to business:
1. Not to fight with others, to work things out: constructive engagement with everyone, from employees, to colleagues, to shareholders to stakeholders. We could come up with some innovative solutions to current problems.
2. To respect others: empathic listening, accepting others’ viewpoints as equally important as my own, seeing others as human first, and all other differentiators such as race, gender or culture as secondary.
3. To clean up our mess: first, admit there’s a mess. Then, internalise environmental and social costs. Preferably, move onto not creating the mess in the first place.
4. Not to hurt other creatures: from bugs to plants to elephants, if we applied the “do no harm” principle to all living beings, and the systems that support such life, sustainability would be much closer.
5. To share – not be greedy: waste less, give more, make decisions based on real needs not artificial wants, and recognise that ever increasing bank accounts cannot actually deliver wellbeing or happiness once you’re above the liveable threshold.
We are taught these things as children. In what are we so invested that these values elude our adult operating systems? Quick someone, pass the chalk board. Please?