I was honoured to be invited on Saturday to the launch of the British Antarctic Survey’s Sir David Attenborough. Although for me this meant a 14-hour return drive, it was worth it. The launch was a historic milestone and a significant move towards a safer world. Quite apart from that, the launch itself was quite spectacular.
I’d been loosely associated with this and several other major British Antarctic Survey (BAS) programmes, facilitating annual two-day workshops with the UK’s National Environment Research Council and BAS over the last four years. What has emerged for me is a growing admiration for the people involved and their mission. Working in the Antarctic is as near as you can get to the extremes of space travel without leaving the planet.
As the real Sir David said in his speech, science has shown us how interconnected we are with polar regions. What happens there affects our lives here and vice versa. It was British scientists who first monitored the thinning of the ozone layer in the Antarctic as long ago as 1944.
This new £200 million state-of-the-art vessel will be able to support cutting-edge science over the next 50 years. It will inform governments with accurate longitudinal studies about trends in global environmental systems.
Where is the hope? Well, we manage what we measure. There is hope for this planet. We can see how what we do in Birkenhead or Boston, Buenos Aires or Beijing effects glaciers and ice flows, marine life and oceanic pollution. And then we can act on that information.
Also, as the Bishop of Birkenhead said at the launch, this will inspire a generation of children to engage with science and engineering.
More than that, the culture I see developing with my client organisations gives me hope for leadership in these fields.
£200 million seems a lot as a UK taxpayer. However, it is an investment in hope, which is priceless.
At the weekend I came across this gem of a video posted over six years ago. Marten Mikos, the then-CEO of MySQL who sold the company to SUN Microsystems for $1 billion, gives a candid short interview during the Innovate! conference in Zaragoza, Spain, about his key learnings as an entrepreneur. It's a nine-minute masterclass:
Marten Mikos covers a number of subjects dear to my heart in this short video:
I think offices are so last century. Marten Mikos
At the BCS Business Change SIG last night in London, we had a great conversation. I expected we would, but I wasn't sure what turn it would take. But isn't that the way of all great conversations?
We were exploring the concept of Resilient Hope. In the discussion following my presentation, one person mentioned he'd be reading Daniel Kahneman's seminal work, Thinking Fast, Think Slow, and he referenced what Kahneman had identified as the Loss Aversion Bias, the tendency we all have for protecting our decisions and investments even if they might be wrong and we are losing, by investing, even more, to shore them up. We don't like losing. This works itself out in public, for example, by major projects and programmes, where clearly the business case is failing or has gone, but such is the investment that has gone into it, we pour good money after bad, because we don't to face the fact that we might have backed the wrong horse.
[shareable cite="Dr Dean Ornish"]Joy is a more powerful motivator than fear.[/shareable]
The conversation led on to talk about the climate of negativity in many of our work cultures and why that is.
I'm reminded of a great book by Dr Brené Brown, called Daring Greatly. Dr Brown is known for her research on shame, vulnerability and scarcity, but what emerges from her work, her interviews with parents and others is something transcendently positive. She is able to identify health through connecting with joy through gratitude.However, she has remarked that we find joy "terrifying." She has identified a mental narrative that most of us recognise called foreboding joy. Foreboding joy is where we catch ourselves in joy, and immediately fear that we will pay for it, or fear that something will come along to snatch it away.
However, she has remarked that we find joy "terrifying." She has identified a mental narrative that most of us recognise called foreboding joy. Foreboding joy` is where we catch ourselves in joy, and immediately fear that we will pay for it, or fear that something will come along to snatch it away.
This is perfectly irrational of course. People do prevail in joy. Look at this Oprah Winfrey interview with Brené Brown:
In my presentation, I quoted from Dr Dean Ornish, the leader of a breakthrough programme in leading behavioural change for chronically ill patients from lifestyle-induced illness. He said, "Joy is a more powerful motivator than fear." Indeed it was, as people soon began to see and feel health benefits from a radical and repeated regime. Rather than be motivated by "do this or you will die" sort of counsel, they connected with joy and through that resilient hope emerged.
Maybe we need to take more care of joy in our lives and not snuff it out too quickly.
What do you think?
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