It’s hard to believe the year is almost coming to a close. As I reflect upon the last 12 months, I’m grateful for the incredible coaching and consulting clients I’ve had the privilege to serve, and I am excited about serving a growing number of individuals and teams in the impact space in 2019. It’s been a special honor to work specifically with entrepreneurs and leaders trying to make a genuine impact on the environment or society, including a number of women at the helm of emerging businesses. We need many more of these leaders to be successful, and I’m grateful to have played any part in helping them navigate the lonely path of leadership with a bit more equanimity.
I’ve also done my own share of growing, observing and evolving as I fortify our existing services and lay groundwork for new projects and offerings—all in hopes of creating a more positive, generative impact for individuals, organizations and communities. I’ve been on the road either speaking at or attending conferences, and along the way have been busy harvesting and metabolizing great ideas from so many committed leaders who with whom I’ve crossed paths this year.
There are several topics I had hoped to cover in blog posts, newsletters or social media posts, but in my commitment not to multitask, there is only so much that can be done! So as 2018 draws to a close, I’m inspired to share a few thoughts and observations from throughout the year. I hope you’ll find them meaningful or useful in some way.
Women’s collaborative leadership: We’re essentially out of time on climate change, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. I’m inviting every woman engaged in sustainability to join me in a collaborative effort to lead us into the future we all want. How much more effective could we be if we banded together rather than trying to go it alone? I’ve been especially inspired this year by Suzanne Biegel, Joy Anderson and Jackie VanderBrug for continuing to shine a light on the possibilities for collaborative leadership in Gender Lens Investing.
Fearless leadership: Thanks to my annual pilgrimage to the Aspen Action Forum, I was reminded this summer of the need to be courageous and bold. In this moment, for me, what that means is to be bold in standing for the survival of our species: first for the survival of the life systems that support us, which means an accelerated transformation of how we live, work and play.
For my part, I’m doubling down on my original commitment to transform business by incorporating externalities that our current financial system does not account for. It’s not an easy path; it’s much easier to live in deep denial. But at the risk of boring people and pissing them off, this is the only path that I feel certain has any chance of reversing our apocalyptic trajectory.
Systems thinking and leadership: I kicked off the year in Brunswick, Maine for my Academy for Systems Change Fellowship. During the experience, I was reminded of the key fact that systems change begins within each of us, not “out there somewhere.” I’m excited to continue to serve clients with systems perspectives as my fellowship progresses. I’m reminded in my systems work, and elsewhere, that I want to work on challenges and issues by addressing root causes—because it’s all connected.
Why a systems change approach? Because we need to move out of the Anthropocene and into an era where all life is respected, one where we realize that as humans we aren’t separate from nature but a part of it—and in reality, utterly dependent on it. We need to evolve beyond human-centered design toward life-affirming design, for all life. Because, again, it’s all connected. We’re all connected.
Drawdown: As Rich Roll, Dr. Mark Hyman and Robyn O’Brien, three heroes of mine, have been saying all year, “There really is no other conversation that we should be having.” Another hero, Paul Hawken published his Drawdown work last year, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind since. It is the closest thing to a blueprint for reversing climate change that I’ve seen anyone offer us; we should all be committing as much energy as possible to projects that begin to meet these goals. I’m doing my part by incorporating these objectives into the investment fund attached to my Regen Central Valley project, which you’ll be hearing more about in 2019. Stay tuned.
Regenerative economy: This year I’ve been particularly inspired by Kevin Doyle Jones, John Fullerton, Carol Sanford, Hunter Lovins, Kate Raworth, Joel Makower, Jed Emerson and so many others who are working collaboratively to lead us to a future that models what equity, justice and respect for all life means in the context of transformed commerce and communities.
Food is medicine: I’m also inspired to recommit to my long-held passion for food systems transformation. In 2019, we’ll be looking at the interdependence of the food production, healthcare, insurance and medical school education systems that have led to the current chronic lifestyle disease epidemic. Because food as medicine is the best form of prevention. Because it’s all connected. Interested in sponsorship or collaboration? Let us know.
Transparency: This one has been on my mind for a long time, and I continued to see examples of where and how transparency will lead us to greater wellbeing. A few noteworthy examples: Beauty brand Tata Harper’s Ecocert certification, Beautycounter’s transparency leadership, and As You Sow’s commitment to helping retail investors invest their values.
Power: Consider power in the context of money in venture capital, or the dynamic of women in the workplace, or concentrated in the 1%, or among “white” people. As Anand Giridharadas shares in Winners Take All, it can be important to reconsider how people are misusing the power of their accumulated wealth, even when well-intentioned. I’m observing so many systemic misuses of power (implicating myself here as well), each of which reminds me of our responsibility to use power mindfully, even in the most personal and intimate interactions we have with one another.
Energy: Your personal energy, that is. Yes, it’s a thing. Consider how much personal energy you have. Why are you lacking it, or why do you have an ample supply? Think for a moment about how you use it to create, or not create, a better life. What energy are you putting out into the world, and what’s coming back to you in response? In the coming years, we’re undoubtedly going to hear a lot more about the physics of personal energy and how our use of it impacts the way we experience our lives.
Preciousness of time: I’ve already written about reclaiming time this year, but it bears repeating. As we come to terms with how much of our priceless time is being spent on devices, we’ll see a greater call for reversing that trend. This includes how we contend with information overload. How much content is it sensible to try to consume? Feeling responsible for knowing everything is part of what’s creating so much anxiety in our lives. I’ll continue to do my part by working with clients to manage these competing demands for a more relaxed, surrendered approach to life.
Looking ahead to 2019
In the New Year, I will continue working with individual impact entrepreneurs, leaders and teams as a coach and consultant. We’re also looking forward to helping a handful of companies and organizations with strategy, sales, operations and applied systems thinking and leadership. To learn more about how our team can support your success, or to schedule a complimentary initial consultation, please sign up here.
In the coming months, you’ll also start to hear more about Regen Central Valley, the project I’m launching to support women entrepreneurs in the Central Valley. If you’re interested in funding, partnering or learning more about my Academy for Systems Change Fellowship project, I’d love to hear from you.
I’m also proud to announce a few new initiatives: our first digital course, What’s In Your Portfolio? Impact Investing for Everyone, and our Sustained Innovation service to help large companies drive top-line growth by marrying innovation with sustainability. Is your organization ready to take your sustainability to the next level? Want to be the first to know when our impact investing course launches? Let us know!
Here’s wishing you strength, grace and aliveness in 2019.