In the past ten years we have all witnessed a series of events of a global significance that shouted - We are all connected!
Firstly, global financial recession, political uncertainty, the ecological threats and now this pandemic. In another age people might have said that the Gods were trying to tell us something.
I have been studying how to lead in this VUCA age (Volatile, Unpredictable, Complex and Ambiguous) through the work of Otto Scharmer for some years. Scharmer chairs the MIT Ideas Programme and founded the Presencing Institute. I purchased a copy of his book for all my Senior Management Team six years ago and his approach to leadership marries perfectly with the St James Ethos. If you have a business at this time I really recommend Scharmer and his online programmes.
We have used many of Scharmer’s ideas in the last few years including prototyping and Theory U, indeed the Super Curriculum is an example of the former.
In his book ‘Presencing’ Scharmer speaks of Nicanor Perlas, the leader of Nationwide and Society Development in the Philippines; Perlas says that globalisation means we have to become more aware of how deeply we are interconnected as human beings. I think we are all aware now that a wet market in China seems to have triggered the current crisis across the world.
I was reminded of the letter, Chief Seattle wrote to the American President this weekend as I reflected on the current crisis. I share it with you if you have never read it before:
How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?
Every part of the Earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every clear and humming insect is holy in the memory and experience of my people. The sap which courses through the trees carries the memory and experience of my people. The sap which courses through the trees carries the memories of the red man.
The white man’s dead forget the country of their birth when they go to walk among the stars. Our dead never forget this beautiful Earth, for it is the mother of the red man. We are part of the Earth and it is part of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters, the deer, the horse, the great eagle, these are our brothers. The rocky crests, the juices in the meadows, the body heat of the pony, and the man, all belong to the same family.
So, when the Great Chief in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land, he asks much of us. The Great White Chief sends word he will reserve us a place so that we can live comfortably to ourselves. He will be our father and we will be his children. So we will consider your offer to buy land. But it will not be easy. For this land is sacred to us.