After another working trip out of town last week Maria and I decided to leave the kids at home and head up to the Yarra Valley for a night over the weekend. Saturday was clear and sunny. We meandered our way through the back roads between Yarra Glen and Healesville.
We drove with long periods of silence. The scars of Black Saturday are everywhere.
I have seen the after-effects of bush fires before. But the scale of this and the background knowledge of the fatal horror on the very roads on which we drove was poignant. As we browsed the shops the discussion was still about recovery. The newspapers are still peppered with references. Little known village names like Chum Creek are now legend.
But my lasting memory will be of a phenomena I’ve never seen before. Autumn colour was everywhere. Dazzling oranges and brazing reds were across vineyards and bordering roads at every turn. But we were struck by the green ‘fur.’
Actually, it is not fur, but from a distance that’s what it looks like. Charred trees … covered from base to branch tip with vibrant new green growth, as if being taken over by a parasitic creeper. I think I would have expected trees recovering from a bush fire to sprout new growth from their branches as in spring. Not so. I wondered what happens next.
Trauma rocks normality. I am not a psychologist but I imagine there are parallels in human life. Recovery from trauma probably looks very different than normal growth. When the ‘green shoots’ come, they likely do so in surprising places. I thought more …
Our world is in trauma now. The twin crises of environmental vulnerability and the financial crisis dishing out pain and inviting a new way of being. As in bushfire recovery, I wonder whether conventional cycles of recovery will fail, Rather we will see new growth sprouting from places we didn’t expect. If we are not attuned to the nature of the trauma, the fury ‘green growth’ could be mocked as try hard. Instead it could well be the signs of human resilience and creative hope.
I will have my eyes open for ‘fury green growth’ in the economy.
I feel like I am always banging on about ‘perspective’. The reason is obvious to me, because I know how important I find it myself. This morning was a good case in point:
I woke early and was contemplating the work ahead of me today. There are some meetings and conversations with some pretty important decisions to be made. I felt the level of anxiety rise as I contemplated the different dynamics and responsibilities I have in them. Then as my thoughts shifted to the broader perspective, the outcomes of the projects in which the activities sit, I could sense an immediate shift … my anxiety started giving way to an energised motivation.
The three projects on which I will work today are all great projects. One, in partnership with a Uni, involves the development of a diagnostic for measuring the ‘generativity’ of a workplace, another is a major initiative to cultivate a social enterprise hub in the CBD, and the third is preparation for a sustainability workshop for the regional Board of a global company. Fantastic projects. Focussing on the bigger picture helped me heaps, rather than lamenting the busy activity in isolation.
I hope you can locate your activity today in the context of the broader outcomes you are trying to achieve … it certainly helps me to do so.
I confess to becoming more cynical of late when it comes to business and leadership books. My appetite to feast on the musings of others used to be insatiable. The business section of book stores used to feel like a well worn boot … familiar yet strong. For some time now, even when I habitually seek the places out, it has left me ambivalent.
I had a relapse yesterday.
My mind was consumed with what felt (and still feels) like an impossible problem. Not a totally unfamiliar one, fairly typical organisational dysfunctionality. (refer Albrecht’s Law) What was perplexing me was my inability to get any traction around the issue. It was disconcerting. Like a childhood dream when you are trying to run away from something and feel like you are being held back.
My name is Col, and I’m a bookshop-aholic. The object of my relapse was the unremarkably named ‘Influencer‘. Like most books of its kind, some simple and powerful ideas get padded out with stories and elaborations. Even though I had a few flights ahead of me to digest it … it only took about 20 minutes to be inspired to not give up.
One of the profound ideas, to which my musings here will not do justice, is that you simply cannot verbally persuade people to sustain different behaviour or see the world differently. As someone has famously suggested, “You can’t persuade someone to change their mind about a position that they didn’t ‘think themselves into in the first place.”
The ‘master influencers’ in the study managed to transform people’s lives by cultivating incentive for a few very specific behaviours. Interesting.
This simple refresher thought has put some wind in my sails when I think about my work with others. It also rings true in relation to my own efforts to maintain wellbeing. It pays to identify a few simple behaviours that we know will result in particular outcomes. Discipline, yes. Simplicity, yes.