Strange times call for new perspectives in problem-solving creatively.
Start by grounding yourself and those you love in your strengths; and make this the lens to look through going forward.
It is a simple wellbeing exercise, which you can do for yourself, as a group of friends, or as a family.
"Design thinking becomes a thing of spectacular beauty when used not just to create a solution but, to create a solution which places designing for human needs in the context of designing for the wellbeing and flourishing of people AND planet."
Read on in the August edition of Sovereign Magazine at this link...
The tipping points we are at in climate chaos are calling on us to do things differently; to embrace being fully human.
As changemakers, if we are exhausted then we can’t arrive in each day with our problem-solving creativity to challenge the status quo of zero-sum economics. It is harder to show-up with fresh insights, innovative ideas and the capacity to take real climate action.
Thus, the burn-out of leaders, entrepreneurs, impact investors, educators - concerns me greatly. I've been part of this tribe for 25 years, so I know how many of you have experienced, or are, experiencing it.
It bothers me when you’re lonely, tired, heart-broken, lost, jaded, fearful. And, most especially when you settle for a half-way house in your “one, wild and precious life” as Mary Oliver calls it in her poem, The Summer Day.
We are being invited to be braver than ever, not by pushing harder but by walking back into ourselves to design solutions around flourishing, to create a different, better type of nudge.
And what of flourishing personally? It is in noticing and creating the profoundly loving and positive connections that go deep and broad in the micro-moments of our everyday lives. Practice it so that you can build it.
David M Carter, describes how cultivating these positive emotions inspires environmentally responsible behaviours, so actually there is an even higher, useful purpose to you doing this:
“First, positive emotions expand and deepen our awareness that we are each a connected part of a much larger living system; the Earth. With greater awareness of this interdependence, our values, intentions, and actions become transformed. Second, positive emotions broaden our vision, resourcefulness, and capacity to creatively and effectively address environmental problems. And third, positive emotions help us to authentically connect with the things in life that are most precious. This authentic connection leads to greater happiness and well-being, and reveals indubitably that consumption levels in excess of what we need serve no purpose toward our overall life satisfaction.” (Carter, D.M., (2009) Cultivated Positive Emotions Inspire Environmentally Responsible Behaviours. University of Pennsylvania.)
The planet needs you to do things differently. Greta and a whole host of other advocates made a stand this week.
And it needs us to do differently so that we generate this connection to the ecosystems that sustain us. Whatever tidy plans you might have, with your back to back busy, I can guarantee that the Universe will send a messenger first, who will invite you to slip headlong into flourishing (the Arhuaco tribe have spoken); and when you don’t listen, she will unravel you to make sure you do, as described beautifully by Brene Brown.
As changemakers, we are on this path of ‘wrestling with angels’, as Stephen Jenkinson calls it...
“If you wrestle an angel, you will grow muscle. There’s no doubt of that. You will also hurt in places that you didn’t know you had. There’s no doubt of that either. And you will lose, by the normal calculus of trying to engineer the life that you’re sure you deserve. It will not come out as you planned, wrestling angels. Your plans are usually the first casualty of the match. But here is that great secret of it: you will be able to boast of your defeat. You will be able to stand in the wreckage of what used to be your certainty, your creed, your way of doing life’s business, and you can tell wild, true stories about how it all came to ruin. Whatever is left standing - and there is always something left standing when you wrestle angels - is the thing that was true about you and your life all along, as faithful a companion as the Earth that will one day cradle you again.”
To take this path is to commit to the revolutionary act of loving, to live those positive emotions that David M Carter refers to; as a way of opening up your deepest creativity and contribution for the planet, to decrease the suffering of others. This is what is left standing after you have wrestled with angels. The sum total of light in the world that you, being unprecedented, contributed.
I’m also one of those messengers extending the invitation.
So, I’m asking, what if you did things differently? What if you broke the routines of a lifetime that have made you content with safe discomfort? What if you chose ‘more’…given it’s in the interests of saving the planet? What if you designed everything around flourishing?
The moment when someone allows an idea to form fascinates me.
It is like watching the Universe tenderly kiss them on the brow and encourage them out into the spotlight.
Whether a child or an adult, it’s a moment so pure in its vulnerability, a splitting of light refracted as they surrender to that unique expression of their unprecedented self.
It is a moment of great courage, suspended between two shores; a choice to step past fear and shame and doubt to take the risk on what may seem impossible.
The fact that I get to see and share this moment with people of all ages, like the start-up entrepreneurs working in Capacity Zurich’s amazing entrepreneurship programme for refugees and migrants, is a great honour; or the students from British School India in my workshop at the UN last week.
I am filled with an urgency to create these moments with you, because we need to imagine a different future than the trajectory that we are on. We need to imagine it in order to create it; and we need to create it by designing around happiness.
With that in mind, I am prescribing ‘wonder’ for everyone as a fast-track approach for inspiring incredible ideas for doing more good for people and planet.
Diane Ackerman wrote, “Wonder is the heaviest element on the periodic table. Even a tiny fleck of it stops time.”
I’ve been having some chats with Dr Vlad Glavneau, Director of the Webster Center for Creativity & Innovation Unit at Webster University in Geneva, and his working definition of wonder is: “Wonder and wondering deﬁne a particular type of experience whereby the person becomes (more or less suddenly) aware of an expanded ﬁeld of possibility for thought and/or action and engages (more or less actively) in exploring this ﬁeld.” (Glavneau, V.P., (2017) Creativity and Wonder. The Journal of Creative Behavior, Vol. 0, Iss. 0, pp. 1–7)
I love creating the spaces for wondering, as powerful, alchemic places of embedding wellbeing and resilience; as well as the tools for taking action.
Children and young people are so open and passionate in their creativity, it’s like watching a blizzard of butterflies emerge. As adults, you just take a bit longer to get to this place, because you’ve forgotten how to break your rules and take the risk on opening your hearts. Ah, but when you do, it’s a thing of great beauty.
We need more wonder and wondering. It is a reclaiming of being ‘fully human’ in our connection to the planet and each other which needs to happen rapidly. It is a groundswell of more love as a social mission, the start of change, the seed of incredible ideas. Me, I’m a Star Wars watching, wild mountain woman walking under the full moon, rebellious librarian-type of wonderer.
And you? What do you wonder? What do you find wondrous? Take a breath, open up to wondering today. Listen to the revolutionary response inside of you and roll with it.
I’ll wrap up with the wisdom of Alice Walker in The Color Purple, “I think us here to wonder, myself. To wonder. To ask. And that in wondering bout the big things and asking bout the big things, you learn about the little ones, almost by accident. But you never know nothing more about the big things than you start out with. The more I wonder, the more I love.”
Spoken word poetry is a powerful tool for change.
You might wonder what spoken word poetry has to do with making change happen.
This is the ancient tradition of lyrical story-telling reinvented for an age of disruptive social innovators.
What if you spoke about what moves you?
You might find yourself standing in the middle of an incongruity of messages: we want you to think but we don't like the democratic voice which thinking gives you.
If you are there in that place, it's simply that they are uneasy that you might disrupt the safety of their significance and level the playing field.
The truth is that your unique perspective counts. Your creativity is unprecedented.
As Audre Lorde said, "I began to ask each time: "What's the worst that could happen to me if I tell this truth?"
What truth will you speak?
Inspiration for opening up your unique blend of creativity to take action for people and planet