My Sustainability déjà vu

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Respect and influence are both essential for effective leadership, and they work together as co-partners to help a leader achieve success. However, if just a phone call takes away the leader’s opportunity, both the partners may suddenly cease to exist.

This interesting insight bestowed upon me while I was writing my speech for a sustainability conference, sitting in a naturally air-conditioned setting. Well, I am not a polished public speaker, but this opportunity came to me through one of my political contacts. So, I am putting my best effort into composing my speech and rehearsing it thoroughly.

Sustainability is an idea or a concept that aims to establish a harmonious balance between society and nature. One World, One Family. This concept or idea enables us to coexist with other species and the environment without causing harm. Interestingly, these concepts, ideas and values are not new; they have been present in literature, religious texts, and history for centuries. The current global climate crisis has brought these ideas to the forefront like never before.

That said, in a world where economic growth is top priority over all else, how to find a harmonious balance that benefits society as a whole? GDP (Gross Domestic product) is the key economic indicator to measure the economic growth. However, this indicator does not provide complete picture of well-being of Society. To measure social and environmental growth, we need an alternative indicator to GDP (Goss domestic Prosperity). But implementing such a metric is easier to preach than to practice.

To understand and explain this topic more deeply, it is important to take real life instances that we encounter. A few years back, a doctor suggested knee replacement surgery for my mother, as her knee had deteriorated due to aging and normal wear and tear. However, my mother refused for replacement and chose to continue with the medicine only, fully knowing that relief of her pain would not be possible without a replacement. This begs the question, why we hesitate or unwilling to change our body parts, even when advance medical science offers diverse options. Why do we choose to endure discomfort and inconvenience instead of the replacement option? Do you see any logic or reason to continue with the same damaged parts, with inconvenience and discomfort? 

For most of us, changing a body part is a last resort. The body stands for our own existence, unique identity, a feeling of self, irrespective of healthy or not. There is a potent emotion attached to it. Losing a body part means a fear of losing a sense of self. As a result, we cannot easily substitute any of our body parts. It does not matter how damaged they are, so long as it sustains. 

It is important to understand here that our own consumption habits and behaviours are the cornerstones of all the sustainability livings that we are talking about today. Though the most straightforward approach for sustainable living is to make our lifestyle choices based on our needs.

However, if we apply the same principles to the things we use in our daily lives, it reveals a stark contrast. We change our cars, clothes, mobiles, devices, and countless items of everyday use much faster than their life expectancy. The mobile phone battery life is 2-3years, while we change mobile phones every two years or even less. We change our clothes or buy even more, though we do not come to the office daily. Now days, our spending or buying decision is based on discounts, easy EMI, cash back, Buy Two get Three and other countless attractive offers. Online shopping with credit option and discount offer is a boom, lures us keep buying. Festive and wedding shopping is a gala affair for us. Even the wealthy do not mind going to abroad just to enjoy an exotic meal crafted by a world-renowned chef.

 In today’s world, Power of temptation and enticement determines or influences our spending decisions rather than actual needs.

It is important to understand here that our own consumption habits and behaviours are the cornerstones of all the sustainability livings that we are talking about today. Though the most straightforward approach for sustainable living is to make our lifestyle choices based on our needs.

Friends, here is the golden quote of our father of Nation, Mahatma Gandhi.

“The world has enough for everyone’s needs, but not everyone’s greed,”

The greatest wealth in life is being content with just minimum things. [ The Speaking Tree]

My phone rang! Call from the Conference Event organizer. With an invisible smile on my face, I eagerly lifted the call. 

However, the news he delivered is far from what I expected. He informed me that the conference event had been cancelled as the main corporate sponsor of the event backed out at the last minute. Their Head office has put a hold on all their marketing and promotional budget with immediate effect. ‘Since it is very big event, arranging an alternative sponsor at such short notice is not possible,’ he said. Of course, he was remorseful about the cancellation of the event and felt extremely sorry about this unfortunate turn of events.

After hearing the devastating news from him, I could not think properly but took a deep breath and sit silently to process the information.

Although I was able to pretend that nothing happened on the call, the truth is that his call deeply hurt and shocked me. I am totally upside down. Getting the chance to be a keynote speaker gives the opportunity to be a leader and, in turn, to earn respect and influence. If in no time, just a phone call takes away, it hurts, it pains. The reality is, I am unable to digest and absorb the shock, and follow the path of increasingly belligerent. Behaving as if someone had stolen something invaluable. And believes there is a conspiracy. I am trying my best to say that whatever has happened, has happened, and I want to forget about it. After all, they have already expressed regret and apologized. What more can we expect? But mind’s counterpoint is, do not solely rely on the word “sorry,” people may use it as a tactic to escape from their accountability and responsibilities. It says it is not a money thing. Opportunity to win respect and influence are rare and difficult to come. Losing one is simply not acceptable, whatsoever the reason. Also argues that the entire world is craving for the leadership position, but this phone call shattered the dream. So, no excuse. Although, I strive to get rid of this situation, but feel powerless to stop the questions of my own mind. No matter how hard I try to pull myself summoning all my strength- just to let it go, but the belligerent mind refuses to budge.

Finally, I could not find a better way to console myself than to say: “Never Mind, Apna Time Aayega.” Remember, a bit of humor to the belligerent mind works wonder. Thank you.

Last but certainly not least, majority of our elderly parents, like my mother, continue to perform their day-to-day routines’ despite of physical challenges or injuries, of course with enduring pain. Let us take a moment to salute their unwavering determination and perseverance!

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