This article is the Context piece from the Book Rapper issue: Frog Power. It provides a context for the book summary of Steve Zaffron and Dave Logan’s book The Three Laws of Performance.
In the good old days, it was politically correct to sit back and smile as the beautiful blondes in the Miss America pageant were asked what they would like to achieve if they were successful in winning the title. As they fluttered their fake eyelashes, their answers typically were of the order ‘In my time as Miss America, I would like to create world peace’. Whilst one can respect their good intentions, it was pretty obvious that it wasn’t going to happen. Only Superman saves the world, right? And, boy, do we need him right now.
The Mess We’re In
Our planet’s in a bit of a mess. If Earth was taken to a doctor they’d probably send it off to palliative care. We have our usual set of wars going on… Terrorism, Afghanistan, Iran, Israel, Palestine… The problem today is the toys we play war with are big enough to blow the planet apart.
We also have our new friend Climate Change. It’s clear our weather is changing and we’ve built our cities, agriculture and lives in the wrong place. Whilst we can glimpse the damage we’re doing on land, the deeper issue appears to be in our oceans. We’re wiping out our fish population like a bulldozer knocking down a forest. Add the melting polar caps and the changes in ocean currents and it’s fairly obvious why we’re getting more ill-tempered Hurricanes like Katrina.
Plus we’ve got a few too many people to feed on the planet. And, too many of them are going hungry. We have enough food, just a few too many restrictions on who gets to eat it.
Our poor animal cousins aren’t doing much better – and this includes our transformational leaping frogs! We’re letting them die off in record numbers never to be seen again. They’re homeless and hungry too and more park benches and soup kitchens are not going to help!
Fixing Our Desire to Fix
It’s clear we’ve got a few things to fix. And, that’s the real problem. We’re trying to fix things on a world-scale one small step at a time.
- Sure, I’m taking a shorter shower. And that’s not going to clean up the planet!
- Sure, I’m using my car less. And that can only drive things so far.
- Sure, I’m separating my plastics from my vegetable matter. And that effort’s all going to waste!
As our dear friend Albert once said: We cannot solve a problem at the same level at which it was created.
And I repeat, that’s the real problem. We keep trying to solve problems and that’s what got us in this mess in the first place. We did a bit of this, then a bit more of that and then we got this. Now we’re trying to do a bit less of this and a bit less of that and hoping it will all go away. Not bloody likely!
Distracting Ourselves From The Real Issue
Each incremental step we add merely distracts us from the real issue. It lets us think we’re doing something about it and the only thing we are doing is wasting time and avoiding the real issue. The human condition has a wonderful ability to numb the pain if only we wait or distract ourself for long enough. We do it around our health, our weight, our relationships, our money, our jobs…
Zaffron and Logan have too much credibility in the world of business and academia to come out and say what they’re really writing about. The ‘unsaid’ in their book is: this conversational technology could save the world! There you go, they didn’t say it and now I have. Now that the cat’s really out of the bag (hopefully an endangered one), let’s take a look at how we can transform two of the world’s biggest ills.
Let’s start with the wars… What is really being fought over? Forget what the media are trying to tell you. None of the wars are being fought over land or oil or revenge for terrorist attacks. That’s way too simplistic – the answer is even more simple than that.
We all just want to be happy, right? And, the shortest path to unhappiness is to compare ourselves to someone else. And, that’s what these wars are all about. Someone else has something that I want and I’m going to take it from them so I can have it too. That’s it. Sounds like a couple of three year olds, doesn’t it?
Now, it’s relatively easy to sit in the comfort of my own suburban dream castle and tell the world they’re wrong. And, it is much easier when you’re detached from it all.
The Past Hijacking the Future
These wars are all being fought based on past injustices. Their past is driving their future. The problem is they’re trying to correct the past and balance the ledger which simply leads to more conflict. Trying to balance the ledger comes from the ‘fix the problem’ mentality.
- We need both sides to sit down and notice how things are occurring to them.
- We need them to get in touch with their almost certain future of more fighting, more loss of life, more pain, more unhappiness. More hurt simply causes more hurt.
- We need them to complete their past. And that ‘them’ is us! We’re part of the problem for letting it go on for so long.
- We need them to acknowledge their righteousness and wrongness.
Creating a New Future
And, we need them to create a new future for themselves. A future they can live into in a way that honours not just them and their families and their ancestors. It needs to honour and value all of the people who have been hurt, maimed and killed; as well as the ones who have done the hurting, the maiming and the killing.
A compelling future is also what’s needed to stop the flood of violence in our cities. It’s a cry for help by people who are rightly or wrongly feeling alienated. Let’s help them create a future that’s not dependent on destruction. This can be as simple or as difficult as we want to make it.
My tip: this process needs to work at both the leadership and community level. The leaders can provide the symbolic change and the community can breathe life into it. The head needs to be connected to the heart.
Ending Climate Change
Enough of wars! Let’s talk about Climate Change. No, let’s stop talking about Climate Change. That’s the problem!
It has now been confirmed by the best scientific minds and research on the planet that our climate is changing at a higher rate than it has previously – or at least for the past few hundred years. End of story. Let’s accept that and now get on with Climate Design. We know we can influence our climate so let’s be deliberate about what we’re going to create. It’s time to stop trying to fix our past environmental mistakes and start designing our way forward.
Design is deliberate change and it’s time we we’re deliberate about the changes we want to make.
A Global Future
On May 25 in 1961, US President John F. Kennedy invented a future that focussed an entire country for a decade – to land a man on the moon. Forty years after this achievement was completed, I believe we’re now ready for a new challenge. A global challenge.
A challenge not out of fixing something that is broken and not out of righting past wrongs. It’s time for a deliberate challenge that will drive humanity and our planet forward for the next decade or even the next century. What’s going to be the invented future that our current generation is aspiring too? Let’s hope it’s not to get a good job and build a McMansion in the ever-expanding suburbs. Been there done that.
Your Future is My Future
And, who’s going to create it? Whilst eyes are focussed on Barack Obama to be the next great white hope (sic), this is a distraction and an abdication of our own responsibility. Global change starts with personal change. It’s time to stop looking at the world ‘out there’ as our source. It’s time to focus on the world ‘in here’ because this is where our future arises from.
As Gandhi once said, “We need to be the change we want to see.” In the end it’s up to you and me because we are us and them. What’s our invented future?