In my first blog I talk about my leadership aim to “inspire eureka” in others. Education and inspiring change is one of our core functions of my job, but something I realised that I was often leaving at work, where actually in fact there is so much more opportunity to influence others and inspire change in my personal life through encouraging family, friends and through other exploits in my free time. Not having a hugely “green-hearted” set of friends and family, I tended to shy away from this in fear of feeling like I was lecturing but now I realise the flaws in my thinking and that indeed it is positively welcomed with my nearest and dearest eager to learn more.
Firstly on the family front: where I’ve had certain family members that have been non-believers and to save the family argument I’ve kept my opinions to myself. I’m sad to admit that, but Christmas dinner is safer that way!! Instead, with my news intentions to be different, I’ve been slowly sowing seeds, engaging them in conservation and dropping undeniable sustainability nuggets of information that I know will be of interest to the family member at hand, e.g. hard core facts from studies on the financial over performance of strong sustainability companies vs weak ones for the finance nuts.
On the friends front: where I usually saved my sustainability passions and converations for when I’m at locally-organised green drinks, or with lunch catch ups with fellow sustainability counterparts at other organisations, I’m starting to share my knowledge and passions with those not normally that way inclined and inviting “non-sustainability” friends to come join me at talks or events related to sustainability and learning in fact they are delighted to join.
What I’ve found SO refreshing from the slight shift in thinking and in the way that I act with my loved ones is that they are starting to embrace sustainability and enjoying it, and I can feel their excitement in sharing with me new ways of living they are trying out, such as a friend that now does “Meat Free Monday” and parents trying out eco home cleaning materials and asking for more tips about what more to do. It feels so rewarding to be able to give advice and share more without feeling like I’m preaching.
I think this has been helped hugely by the fact that times have changed. Gone are the days where you could only get sustainable products that didn’t really do the job vs the non-sustainable alternatives. Sustainability is also everywhere in the media. So I believe people’s minds are ripe for changing with a little bit of nudging. I feel when I first tried to do so and got shot down, it was probably due to a lack of public attention to the topic and also through not using the right levers to convince.
I’ve also realised that there is more that I can do in my personal time by seeking out opportunities to build momentum in the community. On June 14, I organised an event on sustainable food and alongside it had a eco-marketplace where eco food suppliers could come to showcase their product – we had over 100 people turn up. Where I would normally say “I don’t have time” – I decided to say yes and realise now how rewarding and fun it felt to be part of driving sustainability in the community outside of my job.
The other small shift in mindset has been around being open to supporting the next generation of sustainability leaders. I was never not open to that (!!), but now I feel I’m actively seeking it out. In the last month, I’ve had several coffee catch ups with those looking to enter the field that have contacted me on LinkedIn or colleagues kids that are thinking about a career in this space. In doing so I’m realising how grateful they are and how important it is help these future leaders on their way in whatever way we can, be it through advice, introducing them to others in the field and offering to be a future mentor/sound-board as they continue on.
With this challenge I’m trying to find any opportunity I can to sow the seed and inspire eureka. Where I hope to do something more “wow” in time to come for this challenge, I definitely feel my outlook is different and welcome all opportunities to try and create change through my day to day interactions outside of work.
To focus my energies for the remainder of the challenge and to feel I have a clear tangible outcome – I would like to have completed 3-5 more talks at schools and/or universities (with one completed already as per my first blog).
Thanks for reading! And congrats on your efforts!!