We live in exciting times. We live in an age of profound disruption.
Global crises, such as finance, food, water, fuel, resource scarcity and poverty challenge just about every aspect of society. We need to pause for a while and ask ourselves:
Why do we collectively create results nobody wants? What keeps us locked into the old ways of operating? And what can we do to transform these root issues that keep us trapped in the patterns of the past?
Last month I had a privilege to attend One Young World (OYW) Summit 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Alongside with brilliant OYW Counselors like Kofi Annan, Arianna Huffington, Professor Muhammad Yunus, Sir Richard Branson, Sir Bob Geldof and others there were 1250 inspiring delegates from 190 countries talking about education, human rights, global business, sports and society, sustainable development issues.
And I was asking myself: There are so many problems in the World, how can we fix it? Should we go and safe people from hunger in Kenya or should we raise awareness about melting glaciers in Peru? Should we fight for human rights in Pakistan or help decreasing obesity in the US? And then I thought we would not make the World a better place by just "giving fish to a man".
Firstly, we have to step back and truly reinvent our definition of success as humanity. What are we collectively striving for?
No doubts, the current development of technology and access to information increases our efficiency. However, I'd debate whether it has been leading humanity to more effectiveness, meaning the capability of producing a desired result. Nowadays we know how to "climb the ladder" faster than ever before, however we are also more doubtful than ever before whether it is the right ladder...
If you think about success in business, the first benchmark that comes to mind is the Fortune 500. So why we spotlight a list of companies that awards success based on revenue alone? What if we created a new list that showcased the growing movement of organizations maximizing their positive impact rather than just maximizing their profit?
If you think about national states' performance, the only measurement that exists globally is Gross Domestic Product (GDP). And here Jigmi Y. Thinley, former Prime Minister of Bhutan, the only country in the World that has Gross National Happiness (GNH) instead, explains why he sees alternatives where other world leaders tend to see none:
The GDP led development model that compels boundless growth on a planet with limited resources no longer makes economic sense. It is the cause of our irresponsible, immoral, and self-destructive actions. Irresponsible, because we extract, produce, consume, and waste ever more, even as natural resources are rapidly depleting. Immoral and unethical because [we have] consumed far beyond our share of natural wealth... Self destructive, because, aided by technology, we are bringing about the collapse of our ecological life support systems. Having far outlived its usefulness, our fundamentally flawed economic arrangement has itself become the cause of all problems. Within its framework, there lies no solution to the economic, ecological, social, and security crises that plague the world today and threaten to consume humanity. (UN Head Quarters, New York, 2nd April, 2012)
The capitalism-based model striving for infinite growth with finite resources of planet earth has led us one bottom line measurement - profit. The more money you make - the more successful you are. Currently we consume 1.5 times the regeneration capacity of the planet. And I don't think this is the way we all want to go further.
Yet, this disruption also brings the possibility of profound personal, societal and global renewal. Wherever you go and talk with people, they already feel that we are approaching a moment of disruption. Most people today feel that we live in a time where something is ending, and something else is emerging.
Profound personal, societal and global renewal is not only possible; it is crucial for our planetary future. What is needed are change makers willing to lead from the emerging future, willing to create companies with multiple bottom-lines, willing to restructure humanity into effective entities, building it on trust, authenticity and commitment to a larger purpose and connecting it as a force for good.
Now what we need is to redefine the notion of success collectively and co-creative the vision and the common will to bringing it into reality.