THREE MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT: DO WE SHARE THE SAME PAIN?

So many of us are feeling ‘the heat’, from this endless summer, climate change and political uncertainty. Is it time for all of us to start doing the right thing?

I’ve just been for a walk. Early. Because later it will be too hot. As I write, here in the UK we’re going through a heatwave. Our green and pleasant land is decidedly brown and yellow.

It could be worse. Sweden is burning. They have asked for international support to help them tackle forest fires. In Greece,
74 people have died in such fires so far. Climate change is now here. Just like so many issues that were once spoken of as warnings, that future is now.

People are feeling ‘the heat’ in many ways. So many things we took for granted – democracy, the way leaders behave,
‘the future will be better’, ‘rainy British summers’ – are wobbling or vanishing. I’ve never before witnessed a situation where just about everyone I meet is fully stretched, and also pained with a deeper malaise.

So much of my walk is taken up by thoughts of failure. For many years I have had a strong vision of a child, not yet born, on my lap, asking: “When you knew the people were hurting, animals were dying, the waters were rising and the old ways weren’t working, what did you do?”

And wanting to say I did something useful for them. Right now, I think my answer would be “Not enough”.

I’ve been writing and co-writing this column for six years. And speaking internationally for longer. The subjects have included: ‘Making a difference’ and ‘What will be the legacy of your work and life?’

And the feedback has been heart-warming – people saying what it has inspired in them and how it has galvanised their organisation or coaching community to do something amazing.

But if I look at what’s happening around me in everyday life, in the news, in my community, it seems the overall impact has been precious little. It’s ironic: at the heart of many of the issues is our inability to understand what ‘enough’ means. And at times I feel ‘not enough’.

Then I take a step back and other thoughts come in. The ones that remind me of the dangers of heroic leadership. That ‘every little matters’. That there is no greater fool than the person who does nothing because they can only do a little. It can sometimes feel lonely.

But I know there are many of us who care. I remember the leaders, teams, catalysts and organisations I have the joy of
working with who are making a difference. They are creating great places to work. Their work is making a difference in
the lives of those they serve. It can feel lonely trying to ‘Do the right thing’. We are not alone.

And I’m reminded of a simple phrase we use in The One Leadership Project: Live Lead Support. It’s useful in culture change work, eg: How can you live these values at work and outside? What part of the changes can you lead? Who’s doing something good here who could do with your support?

So I’d love to hear from you – in what way, as a citizen, is the way you live, the things you lead, and the things you support, making a difference? And what about as a professional? What inspires you? What keeps you going? What have you learnt that can help others?

It would be great to share your stories here.

Contact me: neil@enablingcatalysts.com

 

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