Leadership and the Environment
281: People don't want to do small things. They want to do meaningful things.
The notes I read from for this episode:
- People don't want to do small things. They want to do things that matter.
- Stop telling people small things they can do except as part of everything. Find things that you care about, that you notice.
- And stop measuring against a global problem. Ask yourself if you care. Do you care when you see litter in your neighborhood, then pick it
- up. If you care, you'll get something out of it.
- If you care about sea level rise, do something big to act on it. For your values. Who cares if you aren't fixing the world's problems all by yourself. If you're improving your life, you'll enjoy doing it anyway.
- What does it do to you to know you're hurting others but still doing it anyway, no matter how much you can say doing different doesn't make a difference. What are you here for, to give up? To do what you think others shouldn't because they are too? Believe it or not, if you want to make a big, measurable difference, whatever you do will achieve it fastest and most effectively.
- In a world where billions are craving someone to follow, several of you who act soon will become leaders of your communities, companies,
- neighborhoods, and countries.
- Do you want a raise at work? Show you can take and fulfill responsibility. Show your values and live by them so they know you.
- Hiding what you care about and blaming others won't get you promoted. Listen to my guests who started companies, reached leadership positions in places like Apple, Google, and the Federal Government by taking responsibility and acting on the environment.
- They are the future. Be the future. Stop pussyfooting around with straws and excuses that the plane was going to fly anyway.
The posts I mentioned:
358: Bald Versus Plastic
Here are the notes I read this episode from:People keep acting like I'm different, that they have to balance things that I don't when acting on the environment.So I'll share a recent decision I made. People I tell have sounded intrigued and delighted to hear it so I'll share with you.First sensed hairline retreating at 19.Not much for maybe a decade following, I don't remember.Maybe 10 years ago started using minoxidil.Don't know if works or not, but used as insurance. Not insanely expensive.Tested on thinning in back, so even less sure if it works.Over the past few years noticed it becoming my greatest plastic consumption.Thought more about stopping.Even stopping flying was reversible. Never decided to stop forever, just kept finding that it improved my life not to fly. Constraints breed creativity.Stopping minoxidil not reversible. Might not do anything. Might go bald. I don't want to go bald. I like my hair.But I'm pitting purely my vanity against reducing plastic pollution.Last bottle of last 3 month supply was running low. Kept thinking about it. Risk balding, but maybe no difference.Last American president elected bald was Eisenhower. Have to beat Hitler to get elected. Women complain they get judged by appearance, but men do too.Felt helpless, yet also recognize the alternative is simply to live with my genes. What chemical shitstorm is in that stuff anyway?But the bottom line was every time I've chosen to live by my environmental values, it's improved my life. I used to have faith, but faith is belief without evidence. Between avoiding packaged food, avoiding flying, picking up garbage daily, plogging, all of which I thought would worsen my life, they've all improved it.So I made a deal with myself to flip a coin. Heads I'd keep it. If every 3 months I flipped, eventually I'd have to end.I started making deals with myself -- just get to 50 years old. It's so little plastic compared to everyone else. Just one more time. I found out you can buy the raw ingredients on Alibaba. What if I found a great price? Rite Aid had almost half off online. Another place even lower prices, but then more packaging.So I flipped the coin. Tails on the first try. I made a rule only flip a coin when I can't decide any other way, then never reverse that decision or it undoes the value of coin toss's decisiveness. Still I started bargaining with myself.Are you getting how hard I found this decision? I was deciding in the moment a choice to affect me possibly for the remaining several decades of my life.I didn't refill. I still went to Rite Aid intending to buy another box, against the coin toss, but the low price was only online. I was going to break my rule, but didn't because of circumstance.Within a day I could feel new breeze on my forehead. Maybe coincidence, but maybe I'll end up bald in a few months. Maybe it will recede a bit and stop. Who knows?I don't see a path to this choice improving my life, but I'm going with it. Talk about your first-world problems, right? But everyone goes through similar decisions too. Should I buy the coffee on the way to work in the disposable cup? Should I take a subway or shared ride?We all do mental gymnastics to rationalize behavior we know is against our principles. I do. My difference today versus me years ago is that I've moved my balance toward stewardship. Each time I do, I find it improves my life. Before long I find role models beyond where I am. I learn from them, for example Bea Johnson, whose family of four produces collectively less trash than I do.The world will see the results.Some relevant posts of mine:Choose easier by visualizing choices, part IChoose easier by visualizing choices, part IIWhy are decisions hard?How to ChooseHow to decide among close options
357: Steven Pressfield: The War of Art and Nature
Steven Pressfield's War of Art is a perennial bestseller. If you haven't read it, I recommend reading it, even if you delay listening to this podcast. Well, listen to this episode since it will prepare you.Before I read it, I could not have imagined someone writing it. I can't think of another book like it. It's helped countless people start acting on passions.Steven shares how the book emerged---things you won't get from just reading it. After we finished recording, he told me how he shared new things in this episode and he's appeared on many podcasts.I also commented on how the resistance he described to the individual on the verge of creating translates almost perfectly to two places, the individual acting on his or her environmental values as well as us in our communities, as a nation, as a species. Listen to hear his comments on that observation, and why his response made me feel so honored, flattered, and motivated to follow up.He's friendly. We spoke a bit after stopping recording. I asked him about an op-ed piece I'm working on that I feel expresses myself well and will serve the world but many people will object to. It feels great to hear from someone who has inspired so many to weather those risks to be true to yourself. Resistance looms large nonetheless.Anyway, I don't recommend that many books, but I recommend War of Art.
356: I was assaulted again this morning. Can I talk about it?
While I was jogging (actually plogging) along the Hudson River around 7:30am, a person not wearing a mask stepped into my path, blocking me, saying the person's shoes had been stolen. The person seemed to let me pass, but then threatened me and threw a bottle that shattered at my feet as I ran past. I kept running, the hair on the back of my neck standing up and my adrenaline high. I don't know if the person had a weapon.I describe more and some of how it affected me in the audio.I was first going to say I was threatened since he didn't touch me. I'm not a lawyer so I looked up the definition. According to FindLaw.com's page on Assault Torts and Injury Law:legal scholars define assault as an intentional attempt or threat to inflict injury upon a person, coupled with an apparent, present ability to cause the harm, which creates a reasonable apprehension of bodily harm or offensive contact in another.Notice the words “attempt” and “threat” above. In tort law, assault does not require actual touching or violence to the victim. We use another term for the touching or contact: “battery.”Here are the notes I read from:The story from this morning runningHappens all the time, not daily but throughout my lifeI don't think he did it because black, but I suspect were I not white it may not have happened. Can't say this time.When I stayed in AtlantaFriends say, you can say to us but careful with othersShared about mugged childhood, but still happeningMaybe there is a secret white suburban life I don't know aboutRecently white friends have started sharing how they've been muggedConsistent with Dov's saying how sharing stories will lead to others feeling they can share tooThat's all background. Here is my point: every time I bring up suffering or being threatened, while I may get some listening, the other person always says, remember others have it worse---not that person, not even someone with their skin colorSo they don't know from experience but they're telling me as if I haven't heard before, and they're presuming to know my experienceI don't know anyone's experience but mine, but everyone absolutely everyone dismisses it without asking, presuming it's the caricature in the mainstream.When I hear white people talking about BLM, George Floyd, there's always this mea culpa. Maybe they are guilty, I don't know. I never hear them speak about their problems. Maybe they have no problems, maybe I'm unique, but that people open up with me when I share and they hear I'm not white supremacist or racist---though in today's world white people even mentioning race without saying how they are allies or something making up for guilt or things like that---then they tell me about their experiences, but they insist on my respecting their confidence, which of course I do.So much of what I hear from white people sounds so similar andinauthentic, I don't think they're being open, honest, or candid. Maybemany are as privileged as they say, but people have told me about being attacked, their lives threatened with weapons, and so on.I think about risks maybe not every day, but all the time. And when Idon't, some guy walks into my path, throws a bottle at me, and threatens me.For a while I feared sharing messages like this because people mightsuspect I'm turning into a white supremacist. I came to terms that ifpeople think that about the opposite, I can't let their preconceivednotions hold me from acting for equality."White Like Me," Eddie Murphy's Saturday Night Live sketch I referred to