Getting Your Green Mojo Back – 5 ways to get it and keep it
Psst! Ever lost your green mojo? We’ve all been there. Losing it, finding it, keeping it? Time to get green fit. Eco compassion fatigue, and carbon droop, are perfectly natural! No need to worry. It’s perfectly normal to think it’s all too big - or feel inadequate ;o)
The ‘small task’ - of morphing an entire global industry - (all our habits, culture, plans, materials, paradigms, supply chains, manuals, everything!) - into something radically different - is no small challenge. The ultimate goal (zero carbon + zero waste + closed loop) is almost the mirror opposite of what we’ve always done… what we know… what we’re good at… what we once learnt. But that was before we saw the eco buffers ahead.
Here are some proven secrets to an ever more sustainable peak-eco performance?
Tip #1 Find someone who has done it
There are plenty of green superheroes out there. Men and women who have succeeded – on the ground - doing something big, hairy audacious and Green. (BHAG) Speak with them, invite them to speak with your colleagues. Buy their books. Google their videos. If you wanted to be a top boxer, you’d study the best (e.g. Ali) their moves, walk, action. “In theory, practice and theory are the same thing. In practice, they’re not.”
Tip #2 Find someone deeply inspirational
Some achievers are also deeply inspirational. Anita Roddick, Bill McKibben, Paul Hawken, Ray Anderson, Wangari Mattau. The list is long. People who are personally, authentically and whole-heartedly determined to transform the world. Seek them out. Find people who have met them (they will have got their green mojo back!) Such people can arouse a sincere re-commitment throughout your organisation. They can ignite a burning desire - to become one of the leading ecological enterprises.
Tip #3 Be bold
“Rescue Earth Mission” isn’t for the faint hearted. We won’t fix anything by bolting one (slightly less messy) compromise onto another. Be good at ‘going back to the drawing board’. Boldly question the brief - without having to have all the answers.
If the spoken “need” is transport, ask if the real solution is more creative than just building more airports. What about Boris bikes? Pedestrian friendly communities? Light rail? Thinking big got us into this mess; it will be thinking big that get’s us out of it too. Dream Big and Green:- the first zero waste town? - restorative communities that export solution faster than pollution?
Tip #4 Consciously grow your own green motivation expert
The ‘why bother’ question is always a tricky one. I hate to be critical but over the last 30 years we’ve just kept trying the same old tactics: a ‘standard-issue’ motivational toolkit: except all the tools are blunt or broken! For example:
- Do what I say not what I do (bullying?)
- Do it or feel ashamed of yourself (manipulation?)
- Do it and be rewarded (bribery?)
- Do it or we will punish/tax/fine/demote you (government?)
- Do it and you’ll look good (CSR or greenwash?)
I find these very uninspiring, don’t you?
Try this:- Do it because you know it’s the right thing to do.
Tip #5 DIY Be The Change You Want to See In (The Company and) The World
If each of us takes care of our own waste, carbon, consumption and dirty habits, the world takes care of itself right? When we work this out for ourselves, in our own time, and of our own free will, then we will naturally want to get on with it, and set a good example: joyfully, willingly, freely. We will do it because we’ve decided to do something about … <insert word you care about here>
When people act from a place of authentic self-motivation, it’s highly contagious. Others are inspired to follow – because they see we are happy doing what we do – and they see there isn’t a catch – it’s not a trick. It’s a free choice. We can all dive in!
Warning: Don’t overdo it – don’t change everything all at once!
If you do... e.g. you become vegan, sell car, stop flying, stop buying anything etc etc… there’s a chance you will feel unhappy - temporarily (!) - as you detox. So take it slow. Each of us can only shrink our waste-diet at a pace that keeps us - and those we love crucially – happy! If we or they become unhappy – guess what – we inspire people NOT to copy our new green act!! #Green Fail!
Instead, simply, steadily, determinedly green your own act - at your will. If it makes you happier (it usually will) – then your increased happiness will be infectious! You will be a trend setter: a green leader. You will be irresistibly attractive. No perfume or deodorant required.
Finally - Cold Feet?
Ok - but what’s the point if | China does x | population does y | competitors do z | clients do f | planet all goes phut | … anyway?
All good points. But let’s expose this as the psychology of losing. No sports team for the Olympics is thinking “what’s the point of training hard if we lose anyway”
Wiping out waste - happily - can be a central pervasive (and persuasive) theme of your life. It’s fun, sensible, healthy, educational, entrepreneurial and ecological. It’s all these things and more…
BEST of all – it can ALSO be a simple ‘random act of kindness’. This keeps me happy - when tackling my bit of the huge ‘waste mountain’ backlog.
Never underestimate the infinite power of a seemingly futile gesture.
Here is a shovel.
You know exactly what to do with your own waste mountain. Enjoy!
The kids are worth it.
An abridged version of this article first appeared in Construction Manager magazine, May 2011