Four Reasons for Hope in Trying Times

If you want an uplifting video to start your morning with, watch the story of Wounda the Chimpanzee being released into the wild after recuperating from a near death experience. It was this video, which went a little bonkers on the Internet last year, that prompted me to read Jane Goodall’s “The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times” while our whole family recovered from Covid this week. Trying times indeed!

I wish every one of you would read this book. Yes, her life story is fascinating and her advocacy work on behalf of animals and conservation has been truly incredible. But it is her gift for simplifying complex topics and storytelling that breaks through the complexity of science, the multitude and interconnectedness of our problems, the polarization of society, and the grimness of the climate data to provide exactly what the title promises: hope. Enough hope, she would like to think, to shake off feeling depressed, disempowered, or daunted by the plethora of challenges at hand and spur us into action. 

Her four reasons for hope are quite simple:

  1. The Amazing Human Intellect. What we have invented is incredible and when we focus global talent and resources onto big problems, as we did on finding a Covid-19 vaccine, we can likely fix anything, and often more quickly than we realize.
  1. The Resilience of Nature. We’ve destroyed and used way too much of it, but she provides numerous examples that nature is way more intelligent and resilient than we understand, and will heal if we give it time, and heal faster if we provide some assistance.
  1. The Power of Young People. She believes that globally this generation of young adults and kids were raised with significantly more awareness and desire to be active around social and environmental problems. They will soon be in charge and will “be the change”. It’s older adults’ job to get with the program and support them.
  1. The Indomitable Human Spirit. She points to that quality in many of us to tackle what seems impossible and never give up, despite the odds, the mocking or scorn of others, or possible failure. The grit to overcome personal problems. The courage to even give up one’s life to save others.

From her perspective, we, as humans, are fully capable of fixing the messes we are in. We just need to move with urgency and be committed to do our part, no matter how small we may perceive that to be. 

As a kick-off to this new year, it’s a great question for everyone, but particularly leaders, to ponder: what part will I play, and will we play, in 2022? How and what can I do, and we do, to help fix these interrelated issues of poverty, climate change, justice and global health? I’m obviously blessed to be leading a company that inspires people to tackle these issues every day, but I know we can reach more faster. I know I personally can do more too.

If you aren’t sure where to start personally, the “9 Most Impactful Behaviors” is a great framework. If you lead an organization, set ESG goals if you don’t have them. If you have them, start getting every single person engaged and involved in hitting them. It’s good for them and good for your business. We can do this if we do it together. We have the intellect and the indomitable spirit, and our young people and nature are ready.

Quote of the Week:  “You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

Jane Goodall

Are you ready to build a better working world?