Leadership and the Environment

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364: Joe De Sena, part 1: The Spartan Race: Resilience from effort

Ep. 364

Joe DeSena founded the Spartan Race and hosts the Spartan Up podcast. For those who know about me and my burpees, cold showers, rowing a marathon, picking up garbage daily, and so on, you can imagine I love what he does.

Joe has made it his mission to bring the emotional rewards of joy, service, happiness, resilience, grit, toughness, and all those things to the world by creating a culture and community that works for it. Some people expect tough means suffering, but I hope you'll catch what I found at the root of Joe's message and life, which is emotional and physical growth.

I heard fun, connection, playfulness. Physical activity enables these things. It's not the goal. The meaning and purpose behind it and that it creates are. At least that's my read.

I happened to catch him while running a two-week program for kids including an event called the Death Race. You'll hear how the kids respond, how parents respond, and how kids in inner cities respond to similar programs.

As it happens, after we finished recording the audio, Joe picked up his laptop and started showing me around his team and farm. I hit record in time for him to find Henry, the kid he talked about. We're checking with Henry's parents for permission, to show the video of Henry's first-hand account of that struggle Joe described.

We all know that struggle. We can all learn from Henry and his innocence of what most of us have sadly learned, how to make better excuses. I shouldn't say better. Excuses that we believe from ourselves more.

Joe does things. Doing things teaches us to do more. We learn to initiate, take responsibility, find the pleasure in doing things, find the disgust and disappointment in watching life pass us by, and waiting for others to do for us.


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9/21/2020

387: Maja Rosén: Leading not flying

Ep. 387
The not-flying-by-choice community is fairly small. About 80 percent of humans can't fly because they can't, but among people who can but choose not to, we're limited. Still, I can't believe I only found out about Maja recently. A few minutes into her TEDx talk, I knew I had to bring her on.She's avoided flying about double how long I have. I could hear from her every sentence that she's had to face all the addiction speaking of people claiming what I did before I challenged myself to go that first year without flying---"I can't avoid it," "the plane was going to flyanyway," and all that.You know the feeling of understanding and support you get when you talk with someone who has shared a rare experience, nearly universally misunderstood? More than personal understanding, she revealed a situation I dreamed of and intellectually knew would happen, but hadn't heard of.For ten years people in Sweden said what everyone here says about not flying being impossible and all that addiction speaking. Then in the past few years it changed. The logic behind not flying didn't change. The pandemic hadn't hit. Their values didn't change. People talk about how Sweden's culture differs, but this change happened within Sweden, not between Sweden and some other place.She said that when they crossed a threshold of people who considered not flying, people started changing, I believe because their neighbors did. She described how a couple editorials from Swedish celebrities choosing to avoid flying influenced a lot. It sounded like my strategy for this podcast. I'm trying to reach a critical mass of people, focusing on influential people, to where people know someone who has acted.I can't tell you how much our conversation warmed my heart for feeling understood on something I value and for which I felt vulnerable and enthusiastic for seeing a light at the end of a tunnel I've been in now in my fifth year. I can't wait for when culture changes and people treat flying like a rare occasion.I was there. I looked the other way to avoid facing my pollution.There's a way out. We can shake the addiction. The main way out is spending more time with family and your community, gaining more control over your career. It feels impossible. When people around us change, we change. When we change first and others follow, that's leadership. You can help lead us out of this mess.Maja's TEDx talkWe Stay on the GroundFlight Free 2020Flight Free 2020 USA
9/18/2020

386: Bob Inglis, part 1: the EcoRight, a balance to the Environmental Left

Ep. 386
Everyone can lead when everyone around them agrees. How about when your conscience tells you what's right differs from everyone around you?Bob Inglis is a former Congressman from South Carolina---the reddest district in the reddist state, as he puts it. The short story is that he stated he believed the science behind climate change. That was ten years ago. They voted him out.You'll hear in this episode the story of how he transformed to take such a risk, how he responded, and what's come since. Last month he "endorsed Joe Biden for president Monday, arguing the Democratic nominee will help stabilize American politics and restore the country’s institutions."I'm linking to his two TEDx talks, a Frontline interview, and his new organization, RepublicEN, which I recommend no matter your political views. I consider acting on your values leadership. I've met or heard of few people who have led on sustainability as much as Bob. Many people on the left talk about it, but haven't led---that is, they've mostly spoken to people who already agreed with them. They haven't worked with hearts and minds.Most of us want to act on ours but hold ourselves back. I bet you'll find him a role model for actions you've held back on, whether related to nature or elsewhere in life.We talk about meaning, purpose, and faith. I hope we can wrestle the wedge from those at the poles of our polarized society, as Bob spoke at the end.republicENBob at TEDxBeaconStreet: Conservative Climate Change. (No, he's not kidding)Bob at TEDxJacksonville: Changing the Dialogue on Energy and ClimateThe Frontline interview
9/18/2020

385: Coleman Hughes: Race and social media mobs

Ep. 385
I first crossed paths with Coleman at a conference that previous guest Jonathan Haidt organized on promoting viewpoint diversity in academia. I hosted a breakfast panel discussion. Coleman spoke on a panel later that day. He shared views that sounded reasonable and well-expressed, but I also knew social media mobs attacked him, though not often engaged. You hear about situations like that. I wanted to bring someone on who had weathered such storms.Partly, you've heard me talking more about race. My next book covers race a lot, so I've had to practice developing my voice in an area I've seen people lose their careers. Coleman didn't. On the contrary, he recently spoke to the US Congress on reparations, opposite another well-known writer on similar subjects with different views, Ta-Nehisi Coates.In our conversation you'll hear his experience choosing to publicly take on subjects knowing that internet mobs might attack him, being attacked, withstanding it, and coming out stronger for it. I ask his advice on my considering doing so. Not many people take on these challenges and emerge stronger for it. His experience helped me to follow in his footsteps since then.It's crazy to think of how we live in times that everyone seems to recognize as suppressing open discussion---that is, our time seems like future historians, should we not destroy ourselves, will look at as historic low in terms of open exchange of ideas, understanding, listening.If we do destroy ourselves, our lack of open exchange probably will have contributed to not finding a solution.Coleman Hughes's web page