It’s a strange phenomenon to see a mainstream acceptance of the sustainability movement, and at the same time to see large extractive and degenerative practices amplified in our globalized economy.
The term sustainability has been adopted across just about every industry — even Monsanto is using it to describe their approach to food systems development.
Yet it doesn’t take too much imaginative stretch to see how the concept has been corrupted and used to reinforce the status quo.
To sustain is to hold on, to maintain and to survive. It is embodied by the pattern of the circle, which promises that if we use just enough renewable resources and we recycle a bit that we’ll be alright.
It’s not exactly the inspiring narrative that will push us to reach our full potential as a species and to truly thrive here on Earth.
In contrast, when we look to nature we don’t find static circles — we don’t find life merely looking to hold on. Life in every form is continuously evolving. Energy is circling around, but it is also pushing forward toward higher forms of intelligence, abundance and diversity. It is more of a spiral than a circle. It is more regenerative than sustainable.
There are elements of guilt and shame in our quest to minimize the damage we cause to the planet. They likely come from a deep-seeded belief that we are inherently flawed, that we somehow don’t really belong here.
Until these beliefs are challenged, we will never evolve into the species we are capable of becoming — the species that has the potential to not only survive on this planet but to thrive deep into the future.
The stories that we tell as organizations is where this shift begins. They must embrace the regenerative narrative — one in which the organization is supporting a holistic range of stakeholders to evolve toward their unique potential, to in turn support the evolution of the living systems to which they belong.
This includes the individuals, families, teams, communities and ecosystems that are all connected to the organization in interdependent relationships. How is your organization helping these systems to process tensions, embrace their unique essence and co-evolve toward their own inherent potential? That is the story to be crafted, lived and told.