Dare to replace To-Do lists with To-Be lists

Climate Change Show Your Stripes

Climate Change represents the greatest challenge facing humanity. In 2 centuries of industrial development, humans have changed the very chemistry of the atmosphere and oceans. The challenge is real. The need to adapt is real. Yet how do we encourage change and make it real to each and everyone of us? What better way than what Simon Sinek calls having a Just Cause. Where we, as individuals, contribute towards a bigger, unified and worthwhile purpose.

Easier said than done. Especially in the world of work, where employee objectives are often finite and bullet-pointed. (Often literally to be crossed off a To-Do list). And typically without organisations taking the time to link employee contribution to the larger purpose, regardless of how Just the purpose is. Or perhaps isn’t.

The problem with finite objectives is that they encourage fixed mindsets and short-term focus, limiting employee capacity to think too far ahead. We know employees are the building blocks to every organisation, so it doesn’t take too long until organisational, higher-level focus becomes fixed and vice-versa. As short-sightedness becomes standardised, climate change does too by becoming a distant terror. One which rarely impacts the completion of individual, or organisational To-Do lists.

Defiantly, Sinek coined the term infinite game, where the objective of an organisation is to instead target the most far-off objectives: those which can never be achieved. To be always adapting and striving for improvement. As it turns out, you don’t get to play the infinite game without a Just Cause:

After all, people don’t care what you do, they care WHY you do it.

The most Just Cause for organisations might just be to adapt to the greatest challenge that faces mankind: Climate Change. Pretty inspiring right? So, what’s the hold up? Why aren’t all organisations doing it? Because they’re not being it.

It comes down to the mindset battle between what is right and what is easy, between what we want to do and what we should do. Between a To-Do list and a To-Be list. Business innovation and market-based solutions have been promoted as central to the climate emergency response. But actions so often fall back to the familiar and less threatening goals, giving us inadequate To-Do lists to tackle the issue:

Today I will do:

  • add a leaf to our logo because it’s good publicity
  • measure any increased profit as a result of the above
  • hire a consultant to do all the above

Because the threat of climate change is unparalleled, we must imagine a world beyond the assumptions of ‘business as usual’. An unparalleled threat necessitates unmatched adaptation. It is a challenge of leadership, coordination and collective action. It is about organisations aligning with employees in collectively daring to adapt finite To-Do lists into more extraordinary, more curious and more limitless To-Be lists.

Because only actions create change, here’s an example, highlighting how individuals can directly be catalysts to impact the Just Cause of an organisation:

Today I will be:

  • Be aware of my personal carbon footprint, and how adaptations could influence my organisation.
  • Be transparent in discussing my understanding of carbon offsetting strategies. ‘Understanding’ will come from conversations.
  • Be compassionate to those suffering from the climate emergency. We’re probably not alone in our thoughts.

What does your To-Be list look like? Does it reflect your organisation’s Just Cause

Climate Change Show Your Stripes

Image “Warming Stripes” thanks to Ed Hawkins. Global temperature change from 1850-2018.

For more about this project please contact Jon Gausden

Jon Gausden


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