The Covid-19 pandemic has clearly shown that a number of transitions need to be accelerated, in order to ensure better adaptation to the Anthropocene era.
And it is a tradition in this case, when a change appears necessary, all eyes are automatically on our leaders and government institutions to effect them.
But if we all agree by now that our systems and culture are proving insufficient to meet our big goals, there is something important we need to know.
Changing a system is the hardest thing to do!
“It ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them.” (Niccolo Machiavelli)
So, if we keep waiting for our leaders to take their first steps, we will be disappointed. We are already very lucky with the Green Deal.
The only reasonable thing to do in my humble opinion is to create a global movement and a wave of change now. It will be led by thousands of co-leaders, ready to help each other meet the mega challenges.
Coming from my research, what we need to know on how to accelerate the massive transformation of our systems:
- Close the distance and engage the periphery in the process of transformation, for the energy for the change is there. Those who find comfort in the system will obviously be less motivated to change anything. They are also the ones who suffer most from the pressure to maintain a form of status quo. All these arguments which show that things will be slower or not as ambitious as they should be, call for a strategy of decentralisation and partnerships.
- Shift to a culture of compassion and care, to support those who want to do good. From knowledge, they are those who struggle the most, who are the most challenged, and probably the least supported in our culture of judgment and blame. Also, note that the doers are often the most criticized in our society.
- Do not make the change brutal (ideally, do not enough announce it). Instead, we will do it in small incremental steps to build our credibility over time (it is a variable of the trust equation). People will join the flow gradually, until our vision becomes mainstream. Ideally it should be a marathon, instead of a sprint…
- Collaborate with the top as leaders must visibly support the movement. But the best option, is to lead the change from bottom to top. The leaders are often the last ones to change.
- Stimulate imagination. We want people to know our strategy works and that’s all. So do not contradict them here, by sharing our difficulties on our way. Reliability is another variable of the trust equation.
What a wave of love can do
Let me use a concrete illustration of the power of a caring culture, because I believe we have never needed a global wave of love so much to accompany each of the transitions.
As you know, we have identified in a previous article some around which to organize and collaborate to develop recommendations for our leaders to follow. But before that, I think it’s time for a love story.
Between 26 and 29 years old; I worked for a famous music festival in Brussels: One evening, as my coworkers and I were trying to help close the site, two men clearly on drugs refused to leave.
Very quickly, the discussion flared up between me and them until one pulled out a small knife of rage.
The young guy was very nervous and ready to show his power over me in the most absurd way for both of us.
Instead of panicking at the aggressive gesture, I decided to shift our energies and looked him in the eye, full of love; before asking him in a calm and compassionate voice, “Would you do that to your dear mother?”
We were both face to face, the knife inches from my chest, when I saw the surprise in his eyes. After a fairly long moment of silence, during which his friend, halt-frozen, was also staring at me, the threatening guy put his knife away, then apologized.
The short yet intense dispute ended up in a hug between us surrounded by the rest of the staff and latecomers, slightly bewildered.
This story ended with love. But I hope you understand that it could have led to a more dramatic conclusion.
I am in a good position to know that when we have lived most of our life surrounded by violence, we cannot imagine that an alternative is possible. We need someone else to teach us, or provoke the shift we need – like I hope I did in a way on that day.
We all have this power to share positive vibes, calm each other and help everyone adapt to the new constraints. So let me ask you, in the collective crisis we are in, what are we doing at the moment to spread the love virus, thus building an exceptional civilisation?
Many people on this planet have no idea what care or love really mean. Sometimes, for example, when I present my initiative, I get comments from some people who tell me that they do not want more care. I find that very sad because the problem they are saying here is that they have no idea what caring really is. For example, caring isn't the same as being in control. It also doesn't require worrying. Care and love are free gifts that we give to people to enable them to become the best versions of themselves.. In fact, my point with this story is to show that we should not underestimate the efforts that will be required to shift to a caring culture. But I know together we can!