The Start of Something New - the First Post for 2011
About a week before Christmas, I simply slowed down. Just before Christmas Day, I picked up my phone for the novelty of it all and called a few people I enjoy and admire.
The first person I called was @jan_morgan; Jan is one of my most favorite peeps in the #csr community nest of the world created by @elainecohen.
Just before Christmas Joe Sibilia, CEO, CSRwire.com, spoke about his powerful partnership with Jan. My quick summary is that Jan in this last year has woven into the heart and soul of CSRWire giving CSRwire the glue to bind more than 6,000 clients. Jan's enthusiasm, outlook and way of connecting is contagiously empowering and very kind.
Jan was of course working on a day that the office was closed because her staff informed her the day before that she had given them the day off and she forgot! She had booked herself for a day of conference calls.
At the start of our call, Jan told me she looked forward to " my big announcement"……..at the start of 2011.
I laughed and said, Oh…..I can see from how I tweeted that you might think I have some “big biz announcement.” In truth, I don’t think it is a really big announcement, I think it is more about making a statement after the New Year of how I plan to work.
Since early November more than 6 of the new and best CSR books prepublication and published have come to my desk. I am even proud to say I read all of them, including an early prepublication pre-peer review manuscript by @ericlowitt 's, Strategies for the Long Haul.
I began with Elaine Cohen's remarkable book, which is with all its detail is easy to digest through her conversational format of writing. Aman Singh, @vaultcsr, reviewed, recommended and described this book with her journalistic prowess. I took Elaine seriously when she told, “bring it on.” Elaine was inviting me to offer what I really think of her book. I grappled with this for a few weeks and even chatted a bit with Jan Morgan about it and then I realized how Elaine’s book CSR for HR, held meaning for me.
Elaine’s book is going to be featured as part of leadership curriculum that I am developing that will annotate and summarize all the books generously shared with me for review by Elaine, Aron Cramer, Joe Sebelius, Jeffrey Hollender, Carol Sanford, Dave Wann and Eric Lowitt. Okay I confess to am still waiting for @adamwerbach to send me a copy of his book. This annotation will be made available to subscribers of my new sustainability leadership teleconference series that I plan to launch in February. The learning group is for any leader or community organizer wanting to learn to embed a culture of sustainability into a leadership approach of sustainability.
Yet this idea was much too wide. I knew it could span a degree of thought that would burn out anyone. So I spent more quiet time, swimming a bit and meeting friend for for coffee and sharing a few late night calls. I used my meditation practice to find a more narrow sport from which to work that I could sustain and contribute value to an audience I really enjoy relating to.
While thinking through all of this from a professional view, I took sought out personal support as well. I participated in a conversation that began with a community of people linked to Joan Borysenko, @jzborysenko. Joan Borysenko began a personal examination of "burnout" for herself and discovered the topic was perfect for her 15th book.
I was drawn to this topic personally and from the perspective of sustainability. I believe ‘burnout’ holds real relevance to sustainability since CSR and Sustainability practices have grown in rapid popularity this year in response to economic, health and environmental burnout.
Often in the CSR, Sustainability world people express confusion and overwhelm. I think some of this overwhelm is also due to the experience people and company strategists or economic decision makers feel when a recession shadows everything they are doing to survive. Hence not only do many become personally depressed, many economic decision makers and leaders as a result of this depression obstruct change and cultural wellbeing because of what is implied by personal depression and a bottom line decline due to external events no one seems to be able to control.
So as a practitioner, I had to think about how I contribute to that and also how my work and pace was contributing to my own burnout.
Joan’s book arrived at my door just on time for my Christmas break from my twitter, hoot and blog dance.
The book now aptly titled Fried: Why You Burn Out and How to Revive, is a combination of quality neuroscience analysis of the growing rate of depression and its relationship to burnout; stories of how people experience burnout, and the passages for healing that people can consciously chose beyond simply fixing the symptoms with anti-depressants.
Most American in the state of the current economy would not be surprised to learn that Biopharm is in part a sustainable industry due to $9.6B in sales anti-depressants. Yet anti-depressants do not heal depression; they fix the symptoms. So what does it mean that the US gobbles 67% of the supply of anti-depressants on the market? If drugs aren't fixing the symptoms what will and can healing depression and the burnout that it implies lead to a more sustainable way of health?
Joan’s personal candor and sharing of her own experience with personal relationships and how her career is a valuable story for anyone working today in any profession or field. Her story of how she shifted from a career as a medical scientist in an academic medical school research settings led to her becoming licensed psychologist, who midwifed the field of mind body medicine while practicing in the Harvard Medical School affiliated Longwood Medical Area.
In some ways this experience runs a similar parallel to why so many professionals I know who are business leaders, environmental advocates, investors and financial analysts have chosen to become practitioners of CSR and Sustainability. I know it runs parallel to my own. Of a more synchronistic perspective, Joan and I went to the same high school, had offices across the street from each other and similar experiences with our father's end of life cycles that drew us together in FB, while we have never met in person. We even worked within the same medical community and share many of the same friends; but have very different paths.
Certainly this book supports the adage, “healer health thyself.” It also parallels the in depth research I completed in 2009, on the Earth Charter Principle Six, The Precautionary Principle, that invites us to “exercise precaution.”
As 2011 approached, I want to work to make this year blososm into the greatest impact I ccan have for my work. So I sought feedback from people I respect on how to shape that and I looked carefully at how people who engage with me suggest I shape my work for the “sale,’ where the sale does not imply the kind of work I want to do or the best result I can contribute to.
During a conversation with Joan's FB community about boundaries and self-love, I commented,
“If only the world I work in would catch up with this level of consciousness.”