Dene Stuart is a guest blogger for 6heads. He is the author of the book “Resourceful Me”. He looks at sustainability on a personal level and how we need to create our own ‘renewable energy’.
Sustainability is about energy. Whether it‘s industry, agriculture, diet or fitness, it’s about the ability of an individual or organisation to provide the energy required for the project, programme or effort over a long time.
As individuals we experience ‘sustainability’ issues. Whether it’s a New Year’s resolution we fail to keep, the diet we are always meaning to start or the gym membership that we pay for but don’t use.
We don’t follow through on promises we make ourselves because we lack the energy and/or drive to follow through. Our energy gets depleted through our daily activities and the stresses of our work, relationships and the issues of day to day life.
However, if you look around there are people with bundles of energy. They are always energetically engaged in what they are doing. This is not to say that they don’t get tired, that’s a natural function of our day and night rhythms but they are not drained of energy by the things they do.
The opposite is in fact true. They are energised by what they are doing. They positively feed off it. The difference between the two types is very simple; people who are energised and engaged are attached to their “Why?” They know why they do what they do and why they want to do it.
Someone who is drained from the stress of their life is often because their lives have become detached from their “Why?” They won’t be able to answer that question except for one response. They need the money and they cannot afford to take the risk of change.
However, money is rarely an authentic answer to “Why?” Research project after research project has shown that once salaries reach a relatively low level (c£48k in the UK) further earning does not materially increase motivation and well-being. For some people money is the answer, these people are easy to recognise because they never have enough, they have to keep accumulating. For others money is the outcome of following a different route and answer to “why?”
Tapping into our “why” is about our personal purpose and it is only when you tap into your “why” that your energy becomes self-sustaining.
I have been fascinated by the fervour which Richard Dawkins set out to disprove the existence of God and gods in his book “The God Delusion”. Only someone with a very spiritual purpose would be so driven. It is his “why”. It’s what makes him get out of bed in the morning. He is a Darwinian Fundamentalist. Everything serves a survival of the fittest paradigm.
Then I read Daniel Kahneman’s book, Thinking Fast and Slow, and discovered that we do not behave in a rational manner. We make choices based on wrong assumptions and that despite the best efforts of thousands of years of civilisation and education we are still driven by the base instincts that protected us when we were competing with the wild animals for food and shelter. Mr Kahneman’s book is a logical and rational explanation of why we do what we do.
Both of these eminent scientists are driven by the need to understand. Their “why?” is to answer the big question “WHY?”
Our “why?” or our purpose is our national grid. It is only when we plug into it that we become energised and fully charged. It is the source of our sustainability. The plug can come in many different forms: adherence to science, religion, commerce, caring, art, music . We all have a different answer to our “why” and we all have a different plug into our energy source. There is no single way that works for all people.
What is your “why?”. If you can answer this you are in a very spiritual place and you will be connected to your very own sustainable energy source.
Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action | Video on TED.com http://goo.gl/x9Xmq
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