Time For “Swarming”

“Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world.  In fact, it’s the only thing that ever has.”  Margaret Mead

Things are heating up.  More and more people are speaking out about the seriousness of our Global situation.  Extreme weather is constantly in the news. Oceans suffering.  Our way of life as we know it isn’t working.  We read this, we see this and yet we can’t quite take it in.  We may fall into any one of these positions: Feel the sense of urgency and try to convince others of it.  See the problems and expect someone else will do something about it.  See the situation feel hopeless or just ignore it and become absorbed in own individual lives.

In accepting the truth of the seriousness of our current situation for me means not just pointing to hopeful initiatives but also encouraging each of us to be aware of our individual role in this. I sense that I need to “ride the wave”, balancing between outward action and deep inner connection, between knowing and not-knowing, between passion and surrender to what is happening.

Evolutionary leaps only happen when a species is faced with threats to its survival. If adaptive creativity is activated by survival issues, not facing the truth will hinder our capacity to discover new solutions.  This is so for individuals, businesses, communities and countries.

Interestingly evolution has two forces that are strangely opposite in their effect.  One force is called transformation or adaptation and the other one is called stability or resistance to change.  Both forces are necessary for survival.  It is the balance of the two that make creation continue yet not fly off into space.  At the edge of a big transitional leap the stabilizing forces can often prevent the change from happening.  Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey’s popular book “Immunity to Change” speaks to this stabilizing force and gives clues about how to unearth the unconscious limitations that stop even the most desired personal or organizational change.

In a planetary context we see a similar force resisting much needed changes.  Political, corporate and individual resistance to innovative economic, cultural and social approaches are also becoming more and more visible.  To meet these counter forces requires the same kind of approach as Keegan presents – more awareness of the worldviews, values and fears that lie beneath the resistance.  It takes a collective effort to understand why we need to change and what fears or ego priorities might prevent the shift.

To have enough momentum for such a collective shift, each of us has an important role to play.  Mainly to start a movement or to support a movement. Why is a “Movement” important and not just individual change?  In biological evolution the nodes of change show a gathering of individuals to create some kind of a group, like a “swarm” .  It seems that when joining together the individuals develop a collective intelligence that helps them to do more than what they could do alone.  When cells joined together and became organs, there was a big evolutionary shift to a higher level of complexity, opening up the way for human beings.

In our human evolution this potential lies in each individual who first connects with their own passion and then joins with like-minded others. This creates a strong enough area of influence to move the culture into a new direction.

How to do this?  Each of us has something we are passionate about.  It is probable that this area needs to evolve in a some way that will be more sustainable or just.  This is also true regarding business and products.  Many businesses are actually working hard on this. But as consumers, we also have a role to play.  What kind of products and what kind of production are we willing to accept?

Here are some examples of people I know personally.

My sister is passionate about good food.  She supports local farmers and organic co-ops, tells her friends where to buy the most healthy food.  She recognizes an important need to change from toxic food to healthy food. This feels very important to her.  She is doing her part.  But she could also make her voice even stronger by joining a movement for healthy food and against toxic food production. In this way her voice will make these movements more influential. I noticed that  when I posted an invitation to the Food Revolution Summit  on the Facebook HOPE page, she “liked” it right away.  The next step would be to join in this initiative. Consumers can and have changed the world. Some start a movement.  Others join in.

My friend Marilyn Veltrop is passionate about personal/spiritual development of leaders and change agents and her husband Bill is passionate about transforming organizations. They have started a Movement to create a form of Social Architecture that is evolutionary! This movement is attracting high-powered people who are inspired by a vision and an approach that is moving in a direction for a better society and better businesses. Commitment and long-term perseverance has brought this work to the cover of the Santa Cruz Good Times: Bill Veltrop—social visionary, leading architect of organizational design and the revered local who believes the next big thing isn’t a ‘thing’.

My friend Rick Wheatley is passionate about leadership.  He began to wonder how the next generation would be able to lead businesses in a changed world.  This led him to start a Movement for young professionals who want to become leaders for sustainable business.  Through creating a place for networking, videos and learning labs with experts 2Lead has attracted about 6500 followers.  To start a movement takes courage, creativity and patience. But without followers it goes nowhere.

I am not a starter of a movement.  And for a long time didn’t want to be a follower either.  Like to work on my own.  Afraid of getting over committed.  But, as I said in my last post, I finally joined the Shift Movement.  Here I met my friends on the Ten Agreement Course.  We learned that each of us is the leading edge of the Evolutionary Force. We have learned how to align with the transformational aspect so that we can create new ways of being for ourselves and then connect with each other for greater impact.  When we do this we become a movement, working to co-create a new culture on the planet.  I am glad that I joined this movement which aligns with my passion and makes me feel part of a something larger than myself.  And I get to think and act with a network of highly committed people working at their edge.

What seems to be true for evolution at this time is that Human Beings have the potential to actually choose how things will develop. Shall we wake up, grow up, take responsibility together.  Or  shall we be as children and hope someone fixes it for us?  I have learned that each person is actually “solely responsible” for the evolution of the human race by how they act! And in the end this will decide the fate of the planet and the future of our grandchildren.

Maybe it is time for “swarming”.  How else can we make the shift to live on Earth in ways that honor the web of life, each other and future generations? (as so beautifully stated in the Mission of Bioneers.)

Some questions:  What am I passionate about?   What will I do as a consumer for a sustainable planet?  What movement will I consider supporting/joining?

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