Something of a different departure for me in this episode of Making Conversations Count! I’m chatting with Ian C Williams about one of the most important topics my podcast has ever covered – saving the planet.

When Ian Williams first encountered the need for sustainability, little did he know that his journey would lead him to become a tireless advocate for change, inspiring people to join together in the fight for a brighter future. But what will come of this unexpected twist in his story?

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Sticking with the transcript? You’ll read:

  • The significance of personal growth in shaping cultural transformation
  • The crucial role each person plays in mitigating environmental impacts
  • The benefits of businesses that focus on employee well-being and personal development
  • Ian’s conversation that counted

00:00:10 – Wendy Harris

This week we're making conversations about our planet count. What impact are you having? What are you wasting? And today I'm not talking about your sales. In business, there's an invisible threat. But once we're aware, we can act. Today, let's get straight to it. We're making conversations about our planet count. I actively sought you out. You're not on my LinkedIn, you're not in my line of sight for business purposes. We've not met before. This conversation, as it's happening live right now. And the reason that I sought you out was a passion of mine in terms of how we live and how we impact on the things around us, our planet and the people and how we can do better. A big champion for the environment and all of those sorts of things and seriously feel that there's not enough guidance and direction that's easy for us to follow and put into practice stuff that we can do on a day to day basis. So Ian, that's why I sought you out is because that's also your passion. So just tell us all a little bit more about how that came about and what it is that you're up to with all of that.

00:01:57 –

Ian Williams I've basically got two different branches or limbs to my work. One is focused on the individual and what the individual can do to affect positive change in the world. And the other one is on an organizational level, what can organizations do to affect a positive change in the world? When I use the term environment, I use it as a broad umbrella term. Often I'm speaking specifically to the physical environment, speaking to the social environment right, the culture. And then oftentimes I'm speaking to the internal environment right the insides of a person. So my work is kind of birthed out of a fundamental belief and core philosophy that if we're going to solve some of these grand challenges that present themselves to us and our species on this planet at this time, we all have to go inward and do that individual work to figure out what our unique gifts are, our unique traits and talents are so that we can share them with the world. And then I would say the same for the organizations in my work as a coach consultant. There's a lot of, I don't want to say wasted opportunity, but I think missed opportunity for organizations to really drill down and have a greater impact within their community, within the environment. And it doesn't take a lot of work so much as it takes some time to hit the pause button and think critically about those processes. So that's a quick summary, kind of high level overview, but I'm working kind of in both planes with the individual as well as the organization.

00:03:18 –

Wendy Harris And I think that's important, really, isn't it? Because I think from a personal point of view, since moving to Scotland, our recycling, that's possibly one of the easiest examples of what you visually see an impact and a difference in is that we had recycling bins that separated at certain things, but now we have food waste separation, we have green waste, like garden waste separation to a greater degree. And not everything is collected. So you have to physically get rid of it in a safe way. My husband always says, oh, we're really wasteful with food, and actually we're not now that we're looking at it and can see it. And I think that's an easy example because it's what you can see. But I think a lot of the bigger challenges that we have are not evident for us to see on a day to day basis, so it doesn't give us that same impact. So you can have, like David Attenborough saying, the only time is now. Yeah. Okay. David, you've been saying that for 20 or 30, 50 years of you being a naturalist, so the weight of the message can get lost, can't it? So what are the sort of typical examples that you see within businesses that quickly translates to the individuals that we can adopt?

00:04:46 –

Ian Williams Ian yeah, I think you hit on a really good point, which is how do we make this more tangible? And from a media narrative standpoint, one of the things that we're often sold as individuals, as consumers, is you as individuals, as family households, need to XYZ take care of your food waste, set your thermostat lower, drive less miles, or drive a car that gets better gas mileage or whatever. And those things, I think, are all true and very valid. The other side of the equation is we've got massive corporations on this planet that are consuming far more resources than any individual or family or community. And that's the other side of the coin. Right. But to your question about what can easily translate, I think it starts with awareness that's the bottom line is just acknowledging that we all have a role to play in the process, whether we're individuals living by ourselves or in family or in community or whether we're solopreneurs running individual businesses or small businesses all the way up to the Fortune 500, Fortune 100, Fortune Ten companies. I think it just starts with awareness. Fortunately, we're in a place now where I feel like the mainstream narrative is starting to acknowledge, accept and adopt the fact that we have to do something about this. There's really no way around it. You could argue that it's come too late, you could argue that it's come too soon, but the bottom line is we're recognizing there's change. And so that awareness, I think, is really the key piece. And honestly, oftentimes taking the first step is the hardest part. Once we have developed that awareness, then I think it leads to a second stepping stone, which is the critical question what are we going to do about it? How can we affect change? How can we have a positive impact? And that's going to look very different for an individual or family as it will for a small, medium, large sized business. But asking that critical question then reveals to us the opportunities therein. And so from an organizational level, your listeners might be familiar with the concept of scope one, two, and three emissions impact, right. So there are direct environmental impacts that a company is having, which is scope one all the way out to scope three, which is indirect. Right. A little more hard to pin down, might be in the supply chain or whatever. That's a good framework, I think, to just start thinking about it, because once we have developed the awareness and taken the time to ask the critical question, then I think it moves into a phase of evaluation. What can we do about it? What buttons can we press? What knobs can we turn? What levers can we pull to have the biggest impact? And if you look at the science and the data, there's probably a few areas to focus on. Right. And I'm speaking in generalities here because we're trying to draw parallels between the organization and the individual. But thinking about emissions is huge. That's key. And everybody could focus on that in their own unique way, all the way down to operational efficiencies from a business standpoint. And I think those are probably some of the major lessons that we might be able to translate to the individual or to the family. Right. An individual, whether you're living in an apartment building or whether you have a home, right. I live in a home that was built in 1884. I don't know exactly what the building practices were like back then, but I've done some work on this home and I can tell you that there's no insulation in the walls. Right. And so that's the first place to start. Right. Again, if you look at the data from a family home ownership standpoint all the way down to small things like, can I reduce the number of miles I'm driving when I run my errands today? Can I reduce the number of Amazon orders that I put through?

00:08:29 –

Wendy Harris It's an interesting concept, isn't it? Because my husband says, now we've got the cost of living crisis, and I'm pretty sure every country globally is feeling an impact of what's going on right now in the world. And my husband will say things like, oh, you can't just keep popping to the shop in the car and one thing another, and that's all well and good, but I think I was already doing that. So it's whether you were mindful and aware of that in the first place. And if you do see yourself doing more trips than you need to but I saw an advert recently and it's a funny story, but it's quite pertinent, I think, in as much as that whilst there are big companies trying to educate, they're not necessarily doing it very well. And the example I'm going to give is a Scottish water company saying that I don't know what the name in the advert is, but let's say for argument, say it's Mildred has helped affect climate change in 20 years time because she didn't go in the shower. She cut her showers by a minute of time. Well, that's fine, but what people may not do is turn the heating of the hot water down so that they're only like boiling the kettle for the one cup that they're making. If you only need X amount of water heating for a shorter shower, or you're not really saving any energy. Do you see what I'm saying? So you think you might be, but you're not, because the practicality of what it is that you're doing isn't seen through.

00:10:08 –

Ian Williams I mean, I spend a lot of time thinking about this and I kind of zigzag back and forth between frustration and optimism, stopping short of saying the world is overpopulated, because I'm not necessarily convinced that it is. We're short of 8 billion people. It's a lot of people. And that's a lot of resources.

00:10:25 –

Wendy Harris Resources aren't necessarily distributed equally and fairly, are they?

00:10:29 –

Ian Williams Yeah, absolutely. There's that too. Right. But the thing that I find myself thinking about a whole heck of a lot is the power of voting with the dollar and holding institutions accountable. There are organizations out there left and right saying we're going to be carbon neutral by 2030.

00:10:49 –

Wendy Harris Corporate social responsibility statements, isn't it? Companies have realized that if they put these statements out, it's kind of like another sort of fence that people have got to smash through before they get to the truth.

00:11:01 –

Ian Williams And if you look at some of the science behind it, which is still very much emerging, right, in terms of carbon offsets and this whole industry space that's emerging, the science isn't quite there yet. And there's some real challenges around this concept known as additionality. Right? So I heard just a story the other day about an organization that is now carbon neutral, or very near it, because essentially what happened was, to make a long story short, they bought a forest and now they're using that forest as a carbon offset. But the idea of additionality suggests that we actually need to draw down more greenhouse gas.

00:11:39 –

Wendy Harris The forest was still a forest before.

00:11:41 –

Ian Williams That and so there's some real it's easy to put out the kind of whitewash, well, we're going to be carbon neutral by 2030. But for the consumer and your point about education, do we really know what that means? Right. And for those of us that spend our time reading about this stuff, in our free time, we might have a little bit more knowledge and tools at our disposal to really dissect those commitment statements. But the bottom line, in my opinion, is if we really invested a lot of time, energy and resources to help these major international corporations, these multinational corporations really focus on their footprint, I think there's no question that that's where we would get the biggest bang for our buck. But that leads us into a conversation around the global economic model. And many of these multinational corporations are their number one concern is quarterly profits and legally they are required to do what's in the best interest of their shareholders. And so it's not as simple as saying, well, you corporation X, just need to be better. You just need to have better values, better morals, better ethics. It doesn't work that way because the economic model which we've set up in which we're all participating in at a global scale, incentivizes certain behaviors. And so that's why I really think that this conversation, it needs to be more holistic, it needs to be more transparent and those are challenging things to do. Right. Because at least over here in the US, our social dialogue has become increasingly more polarized over the last half a decade or a decade or more. And that's a whole separate conversation entirely. Right? But if we can't really have honest dialogue around this, I think it's going to be really challenging to come together in the way that we need to come together on the timescale that we need to do it in. Right. Because when I talk with people, whether they're in my social circles or business circles, a lot of people are suggesting, well, do you really think we're going to see these effects in our lifetime? And my response is, we're already seeing the effects. I mean, we are alive in the century, but the human species gets to decide how it's going to respond or not.

00:13:54 –

Wendy Harris And is it responsible to leave it to our next generation or theirs? That's kind of like passing the book, isn't it, and saying, well, I'm all right Jack now.

00:14:07 –

Ian Williams Yeah. And I think we're really starting to see some of the power of the younger generations who are they're not even willing to support organizations who aren't thinking about social and environmental justice and impact.

00:14:19 –

Wendy Harris There are people like Greta over in Europe.

00:14:22 –

Ian Williams Absolutely.

00:14:23 – Wendy Harris She speaks such sense for such a young age. She also uses young phrases that I have no idea what she's talking about, but it's how to get people to sit back and listen. That's the hardest challenge, I think. And when you see things like in the UK, we've had stop oil campaigns and people sitting in protest on one of the busiest motorways around London, the M 25 and At Ports and things like this, you just go, well, actually, it's because they're looking for an avenue for their voice, because even our media is tainted. There's no true independence because there is always going to be a leniency towards a certain standpoint, politically, economically, morally, whatever, because this is the beauty of us all being unique and humans, isn't it? But collectively it's about bringing some things into play that we can all do. So maybe we ought to explore some key buzzwords. Ian like carbon footprint, fair trade. You've mentioned offsetting emissions and things like this. So the things that the staff can do in these big corporations is say I don't like the fact that you've bought that coffee. That could potentially be from I'm not suggesting this is a real true scenario, but for example, a ColombIan drug dealing area that is slaving its people or where is our stuff coming from in the supply chain? Is our paper recycled? Are we sending our waste to the right places? What chemicals are we flushing down the toilets? Because if you've got 1000 staff in an office block, your sewage is something to be thinking about. Where can we start? Ian?

00:16:23 –

Ian Williams Well, I think the other important thing to recognize here, again, from the individual standpoint is the scale of this challenge, right? And I am not a scientist and my brain does not necessarily think like one all the time, but we're talking about gigatons here. I mean, this is a massive amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and so while turning your thermostat down a couple of degrees in the winter will conserve energy and yes, if every household on the planet did that, it would conserve a considerable amount of energy. We'd still have a long way to go, right, because we need drawdown. And so sustainability at this point, sustaining the current practices, if that's how you interpret the term, sustainability in effect is just slowing down the approach to the same cliff we need to turn the vehicle. And so from an industry standpoint, there's a couple of things to think about, right? And there's an excellent book out there, it's a great book and it's one that has given me the most optimism as I've been consuming these resources over the years, called Speed and Scale by John Dor and it's essentially a global action plan for the climate crisis. It's not just bullet points of ideas and suggestions, it's an actual plan and he puts numbers to it. So it's an excellent resource for any of your listeners that are serious. It's a big book, but it's a pretty quick read. And there's a couple of different sections or industry spaces that he highlights there. One is we need to fix the grid. Two is electrification from cars to across the board so we stop burning fossil fuels. Third, industry space is agriculture. Agriculture is an immensely consumptive industry space and then it moves into some smaller scale impactors like conserving natural areas. And I think there's a couple of others in the book as well. Again, if we're going to really talk about scale, we need to focus on where we're going to have the greatest impact. Industries like concrete, steel, agriculture, motor vehicles. There are massive amounts of emissions in these industry spaces because of the way that the processes are done. So that's big. That's a big space to start. And so for an organization, I would say go to where to your point about the carbon footprint, what's your total impact from a carbon emission standpoint? Do an analysis of that as best you can. Find a specialist who can help you with that and then focus on the areas where are going to have the greatest impact. Obviously, organizations aren't often dictating where and how they get their energy, but fortunately we're starting to see more opportunity for that, right? You can maybe get your energy from your energy company, but through a renewable source that they have. I know Europe is probably a bit further along in that regard than the US here. So that's I think the first thing, again, it kind of goes back to the awareness. And one of the things that I often say when working individually with people is the solution to all the world's problems begins with sitting still. And I don't mean inaction, I mean pause. Take a moment and think critically about it. Because identifying the target and the concentric rings within the target and the bullseye at the center gives us the best opportunity to have a calculated strategic approach from the onset as opposed to just throwing a wad of spaghetti at the wall and hoping that something sticks. So from an organization standpoint, again thinking about the total carbon footprint, do an analysis, figure out where your emissions are, how much energy are you using when your hundreds or thousands of employees are on zoom meetings for four or five, 6 hours a day, your fleet of vehicles, what impact is that having? How much CO2 are you emitting to the atmosphere?

00:20:01 –

Wendy Harris I would think as well that certainly in the last couple of years with the change of working hybrid, working from home, working from the office, some companies have already adapted some of that. They may not even realize that they're already having an impact because the productivity and the will of the workers has just kind of masked the fact that that's going to help the planet because the motivation was greater than the call for us to do something for the planet. And like you say about looking at the numbers and we all know what the input is, don't we? We all know that. Certainly in my field we need to speak to x amount of people a day. But if you don't have an output of how many need to buy from you or to show that they're going to buy from you, it doesn't matter how much data you put in unless you've got a goal for that to output something.

00:21:06 –

Ian Williams Again, to maybe try and simplify this as best as I'm able, we're at a certain amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. And the concept of just emitting less greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the science would tell us, is not enough. We need to draw down, right? That's where that phrase comes from. We need to reduce the amount. And so getting to carbon neutral by 20 30, 20, 40, 20, 50 as an organization is great, but collectively we need to be thinking beyond that. We need to be thinking about how do we become carbon negative? How are we drawing CO2 and other greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere? And that's a big ask, but I think how do you eat the elephant one bite at a time? You need to take steps in the right direction consistently over time and to try and get to what the IPCC right now is suggesting. 50% reduction in emissions by 2030. Globally, that's seven years away. That's a blink of an eye. Right? And it's overwhelming for me at times to think about how are we going to do this? But the reality is that often for me manifests as inaction. And so it's just not really an option in terms of what can the individual do. There's a couple of things that I think I can extrapolate from focusing on the industry spaces. Right? I mean, getting your energy in your home from renewable sources is huge because if you live in the Northern Hemisphere and you spend half the year heating your home or cooling your home, you're using a tremendous amount of energy. For those that are still commuting, driving an electric vehicle reduces emissions. Now, we can open up Pandora's box around electric vehicles and all the mining that's happening in order to produce those batteries. But if we're just talking about it from an emissions standpoint that's big. If you're still putting on a lot of miles, driving an electric vehicle would help. And then the third thing is that I try and focus on in my own personal life is agriculture. Where are you getting your food from here in the US. In North America? Well, I should say in the US proper. A lot of our food is coming from Southern California. I live in Minnesota, that's nearly 2000 miles away and I eat a lot of produce. But here our growing season is six, seven months. And that's if you're you can extend it a little longer. If you're optimizing with things like high tunnels or greenhouses or whatever. But the law, you know, economies of scale, a lot of our food is coming from a place, the Southwest, where you can grow food year round. So there's a tremendous energy footprint just for me to buy a pound of spinach or greens. And so thinking about that and trying to find support farmers who are implementing regenerative practices, that's a buzzword. We could talk about that too and dissect really what it means. But again, I think it goes back to this holistic conversation and it's not necessarily that there's one silver bullet. I think as humans, we're often searching for that. We just want someone to tell us what the answer is, then we can do that thing and then it'll be done and we can move on with our lives. But the reality is this challenge that we're facing collectively is too complex in order for us to have that silver bullet. So it really is going to take a more systemic approach where we're really focusing on every areas of our lives, every areas of our business, every areas of industry, space, economics, et cetera.

00:24:32 –

Wendy Harris It's about making that start, though, isn't it, Ian? If you don't do one thing, that then leads you to think about another thing and another thing, and before you know it, you've got lots of things happening for you. I want to ask your opinion because I've been flicking through this. It's quite a tomb, but now if you've had a chance to get your hands on a copy I have not. Right, okay. So the Carbon Almanac, the forward is by Seth Godin big name and its sort of headline is it's not too late. And it's a collection of experts in their field that have pulled together all the data. A lot of it is around awareness. If you knew this was happening, would you support it? And going back to the beginning of our conversation, if you were to say to people, well, by 2030, we're not going to be here anyway, if that was the message that our children's children were going to hear, we would be pulled up fairly sharp to do a lot very quickly. So I do think that it is that, like you say, it's that awareness piece, that if you knew what small impact you had that collectively adds up to that impact on our planet, I think we'd do a lot more.

00:25:57 –

Ian Williams Absolutely. And I think you're touching on the subtitle of the book is touching on a really important shift in this conversation over the last years, which is I'm 33 and so there's not the historical context that some people have who, when the environmental movement was birthed right, have. That being said, I've seen a narrative shift away from the sky is falling towards more of an empowerment narrative. We can do something about it. It's not too late. And I think that is a critical shift because the reality is all of this is built upon the success of all of this. And the metrics on that are built upon our ability as humans and individuals to implement behavior modification, which is a historically challenging thing to do, especially when we're trying to do it at scale in communities. But that narrative shift, I think, is key, moving away from, well, I'm not doing anything, or I could be doing more into what am I doing? And it's not to make it soft and fluffy, but it's to help empower us to take the next step. And so there's a couple of things that I often suggest, and these come from my own personal experience in terms of just if you want to make this a little bit more tangible, the first thing I always suggest is get out in nature, right? We have here in Minnesota the Boundary Waters Canoe area. It's a wilderness area. It's massive. It's one of the largest in the US. And for me, just escaping into wilderness is a good reset button to remember what's really important, to remember that I come from nature, and I'm going to return to it and to remember that it's something worth working on behalf of, right? Because Mother Nature provides everything for all of us. And so if we don't close that loop and reciprocate in that relationship, we're driving ourselves towards a cliff. And I also understand that this notion of getting out and escaping into wilderness, not everyone has that option. Not everyone has the resources to do that. Not everyone has the space to do that. But if I'm just looking for an afternoon fix, I'll go to a city park and I'll lay down onto the ground under an oak tree, and I'll just watch the branches sway back and forth in front of the sky, right? I mean, that's a wilderness experience, albeit a little bit different. So that's the first place that I often tell people to start, right? There's the analytical minds out there who want to look at the numbers, they want to look at the data, they want to see, what can I really do? And then I think there are people, and oftentimes that's me, but there are people like my wife, who the numbers don't really work for her. They don't make a compelling case. And so it's just a matter of let's just get out and let's experience it. And then it becomes an emotional motivator, so to speak. So I think that's big, right? Connect with nature and know what you're working on behalf of and remember that we're all tied into this ecosystem. It's a global ecosystem. And to think that we're separate from it in any way, or that we're going to be able to live in underground bunkers, or that we're going to be able to colonize Mars or whatever. I'm not saying that they're not realities. I'm just saying that they're not realities in the very near future, and this is a very near term challenge that we need to solve, is that the.

00:29:17 –

Wendy Harris Reality that you want for yourself and your species? But there's a couple of films that come to mind that I always go back to Avatar and that Making Conversations Count, and you'll probably grin even more because it was my favorite film to watch with my eldest daughter, who's not much younger than you, and that's Fern Gully. And if ever there was an animated story that really gets you, it chokes you up, it gets you here, and it gets you. Here. So it's your heart and your head, and we're all responsible. And I think this is the thing, isn't it? We all have a responsibility. And that responsibility to Mother Nature ought really be what we're taught culturally before the economic side of things.

00:30:14 –

Ian Williams Yeah. And I think we need to be totally fair here that there are many indigenous cultures across the world that are still teaching and have taught that right. For millennia. That narrative is still out there. Yeah.

00:30:26 –

Wendy Harris I speak as a Westerner.

00:30:28 – Ian Williams Yeah, absolutely. And it's often not one that us as white identifying Westerners who come from colonial lineages are taught or exposed to on a regular basis. And so that's a big gap or chasm. I think that some of us need to we need to bridge that gap psychologically and emotionally, because for better or worse, we might not have been taught it, and we might not have had the opportunity to really experience the reality of that truth, that we are part of nature. We're tied into it. And so there's a couple of different ways to go back to the self awareness piece. Oftentimes I kind of have to ask myself, what's the next bit that I need to motivate myself into the next area of change? And sometimes it's sitting down and watching the David Attenborough documentaries and realizing, like, and we got to do this and we got to do it now. And other times it's going to a park and laying under an oak tree or disappearing into the wilderness on a camping backpacking trip. But that all comes from self awareness and knowing ourselves, how we can hold ourselves accountable. And so to use the simple analogy of someone wanting to get in shape, some people are able to just go to gym and do it themselves. Some people need to get a personal trainer because they need to be accountable to someone outside themselves if they're going to hold themselves accountable to the behavior. And I think here it presents some really interesting opportunities. Right. If you're feeling like it's a little bit too overwhelming to take this on as an individual, do some exploration. See if there are community organizations in your neighborhood, in your town, in your city, in your state, in your region that are part of this, and you can get involved in that movement. See if you work for a large organization, see what sustainability initiatives they have. See if you can get involved, become volunteer on those committees. Or if your organization doesn't have one, maybe you're the person who starts one to see if there's any interest from other people at your organization. It's that collective action. Right. And it's oftentimes to go back to this silver bullet comment, we also want a linear solution. I want to be able to draw a straight line from A to B to C to Z. And this doesn't necessarily work that way. This is a complex challenge. And so in many ways, it's just following the breadcrumb trail, holding ourselves accountable to taking the next step. And then once we feel like we've got some buttons to push and some levers to pull and some knobs to turn to have an impact, implementing the behavior modification to do those things and follow through. Because, again, it brings us back to that conversation around behavior modification. Oftentimes it's easiest to do that in community when there are other people that we're held accountable to and other people that are holding themselves accountable to us.

00:32:59 –

Wendy Harris And you make a really interesting point, Ian, is that if you can seek out other people that are interested in making that change themselves and you all come together, you'll all be at different stages of that journey. You'll all have tried certain things because nobody wants to be reinventing the wheel, do they? Yet this is a path that not many people have trodden. So by sharing those experiences of what's worked and what doesn't, just start to give a roadmap to speed up that process. The more people that join in that movement and you can go, well, we tried this. It didn't really work. We tried this. This had the greatest impact. This would be what we would recommend to do. And it's in that shared storytelling mode of conversation and community that I think we can have the biggest impact.

00:33:55 –

Ian Williams Yeah, absolutely. I mean, there's a lot of lessons to learn. And one thing that I often try and draw into my work, or at least my processing around all this as I'm trying to problem solve either with individuals or communities or organizations, is what are those lessons and laws that nature provides, natural law that we're going to be able to implement. And so one of the things that I think about all the time is that diversity in nature is what creates resilience. It's a diverse ecosystem that's a resilient ecosystem. And to your point about working with other individuals, they're going to have their strengths and we're going to have our strengths. That's diversity. Diversity of thought, having conversations, right? Bridging the divide. If you're a Westerner, get outside that Western bubble and go talk to some communities, or rather listen to some communities that are speaking a different narrative, right, and learn from that wisdom. There's a field out there, Permaculture, which I've done some studying on, and the founder has a famous quote, Bill Mollison, which is something to the effect of all of the world's problems can be solved in a garden, something like this. And I think the ethos, or at least what I take away from that narrative, is we just need to go to nature. The solutions are already there. And if we take time to hit the pause button, right, to sit still and to observe and to listen and to witness, we're going to glean wisdom from that process that we're going to be able to embed in our own problem solving. Right? Because we can take a scientific analytic approach, and that's needed, but it's only one slice of the pie. And what's the why in all of this, right. What's at the bottom of your bubbling cauldron that's really going to keep you motivated over a long period of time?

00:35:34 –

Wendy Harris Yeah. You've triggered a memory of reading the Clan of the Cave Bear series. And if you think about, my dad was a raven hippie. And it's before the technology, it's before lots of things. They were just making simple tools, but everything that they needed, they were able to survive and live comfortably. What is the most important thing is warmth, food. So it's shelter, air, water, isn't it? It's that kind of thing. Those are the most basic, fundamental things that we need, that everybody on the planet needs. But when you start to look at some of our greatest inventions or discoveries, like penicillin through mold, and I'm just thinking of all those different things that really nature has helped us along the way, that it's about, like you say, drawing down the good and pushing the bad away. It's being able to identify what's good and what's bad and go in that way. It's like driving down diabetes in our food and the food that we eat, isn't it? They're all side effects and ramifications.

00:36:49 –

Ian Williams To your point about good and bad, I think that the concept of balance is a really important concept here. Right. Because I think it's just part of the human condition to try and push away the bad and only hold on to the good, only experience what's positive and pleasant. The reality is life doesn't work that way. Right. And I think part of what we're well, if we look at the last couple of years in this global pandemic, we've been forced to look at some challenging aspects, right? I mean, let us not forget that Mother Earth brought the human species to its knees in a matter of weeks. With all of the innovation and all of the knowledge that we have, we got a pretty strong indicator of who's still in charge. And that opportunity to sit with that and to ask the question, how is the last couple of years going to change the way that I live my life? Is a really important question to ask, in my opinion, because it's not to suggest that everyone needs to be on this deep, kind of spiritual, philosophical, esoteric path. That's not my point. My point is rather just about intentionality. And if we want to talk about what's the number one thing that an individual can do to have an impact, be intentional about your decision making and your actions and your behaviors. Know the impact they're having on the climate, on the social environment, on your family, on your own internal well being. Be aware of that. Develop an awareness around that. And then be intentional to modify your behaviors, your thoughts, your actions in order to affect the change that you want to have, whether it be internally familiarly, socially, organizationally, et cetera. That intentionality, I think, is really key, and I think it's buoyed and balanced by kind of a more macro awareness. Right. I mean, we need to not every one of us needs to be an environmental scientist who knows the data inside and out. But we do need to have the ability to sift through and do some critical thinking, to move through all of the misinformation out there and find some strategies that are going to have an impact and to be thinking about what more can we do? It's always about that next step because it's going to take that collective shift, right? If we just turn our thermostats down or we drive less miles and we say, okay, I've done my part, the world that you're going to be leaving to your children and grandchildren, they're just going to have a bigger challenge facing them, right. And there's no part of me that's trying to motivate people with shame or guilt. Historically, we know that those are not effective motivators for change, but to be intentional about our decision making, to be aware of the impact that it's having, and to remember that there's a greater good that we are a part of, we are inextricably linked to it. We are intricately connected to it all the time, and that includes Mother Earth herself, is fundamental to all of this work, right? If we don't have that ethos underpinning our life somewhere, at some point, we're really missing a foundational pillar here.

00:39:53 –

Wendy Harris I think it comes to the point in the conversation where I need to ask the question I ask all of my guests, and I never know what's coming next. And that is, is there one conversation that you can remember having, Ian, that, you know, changed your life and career?

00:40:14 –

Ian Williams Yeah, I've had many, but the conversation that stands out to me the most, we'll call it. In the last decade, I was at a permaculture training. And for people who don't know, permaculture is a regenerative design philosophy often used to implement living systems. It's a wonderful field of thought if people are interested in kind of taking the next step on their own environmental journey. And I was talking to an instructor over lunch, and I was expressing what could only be summarized as an existential crisis, right? Like, I want to have change, I want to impact positive change, but I feel overwhelmed with the monumental challenges that present themselves to us. And she said she recounted a story her teacher told her at one point, there's two ends of the continuum, and we need people in the streets protesting, demonstrating, and kind of working to really hold the current systems accountable. But there's another end of the continuum, and those are people that are just out there building new systems. And then what she said was one person cannot be on both ends of the continuum at the same time. It's too much emotional energy to be out in the streets protesting and building new systems. And it was a very quick story. That was the lesson that she shared. But it absolutely changed the trajectory of my life because for the first time, it gave me a lens of analysis. And then it showed me where I sat on that continuum. And at that time in my life, I was out protesting, but there was always something that didn't fit for me. It didn't feel right. It didn't feel like the best use of my time or energy. And in that moment, I learned and realized I'm here to help build new systems. And so that was a monumental shift. It really kind of changed the trajectory of my professional path as well as my internal journey, right. It gave me permission to let go of the angst, the frustration, the resentment, all of that pain wrapped up in what is essentially a victim narrative, right? You, the outside world, are not doing what you're supposed to in order to make this world a safe space for me. That's a victim narrative. And it led me to a more empowered stance of I can be part of this change. And the way that I do that is at the time, just exploring this new direction, what does it mean to build new systems? And so that led me to a series of professional progressions that got me to where I am today. I was using that permaculture narrative and philosophy and thought, okay, I'd learned at that point I'm not the person to get my hands in the dirt, to plant trees, to dig swales, to be on the farm. That's not my area of expertise. I'm interested in it, but I'm not passionate about it. And so once I gave myself permission to recognize that, then I moved into, okay, I'm going to take these laws of permaculture and I'm going to apply them to people, right? Social change. And at that time in my life, I thought, no, that's not ad either. I still have a lot of internal work to do. And so eventually I took those laws of permaculture, the design principles, and I applied them to my internal landscape and I tried to figure out how can I live a more sustainable life internally? Because I knew at that point the emotions that I is experiencing were putting me on a path to burnout and it wasn't an effective motivator of change. So that led me down a pretty what I would call a spiritual journey, which then has now taken another progression into now that I feel like I've done my own internal work to the extent that I think was appropriate at that time in my life. Obviously, there's always more work to do. I can show up more authentically, got a much better understanding of what my skill set is and how I can use that skill set to serve the greater good. But that's the conversation for sure.

00:44:02 –

Wendy Harris What a great conversation. Because I can just imagine how many listeners are sitting thinking, do you know what? I feel angst and overwhelmed and frustrated and nobody's listening to me. And I don't even know if what I'm saying makes has a point that seriously, it is about two ends of the scale, isn't it? You know, there's something wrong. You've got to change something, because where you're sat on that line is not the right place for you to feel like you are in your place, in alignment with what you do stand for and what you do believe and how you can be heard. That's a serious conversation there.

00:44:46 –

Ian Williams Ian we've all had those interactions, right? It's either it's a person who says a sentence person who says a sentence to us, or a comment, or a conversation that we have, or an immersive, immersive experience like a workshop or a training or a trip that just they fundamentally alter the fabric of our life. And I feel fortunate to have had several of those over the years. And ultimately what it's manifested in is a lot of questioning around what can I do about this? And at this point, whether I'm again working on personal and spiritual development and cultivation with individuals or communities, or whether I'm working with organizations on organizational development, employee engagement, social and environmental impact. The foundational philosophy that underpins all of this work for me is the belief that personal cultivation is what's going to lead to cultural transformation. It's us doing our internal individual work that's going to lead to the collective change that we're really searching for. That's what gets me out of bed in the morning.

00:45:44 –

Wendy Harris I talk about this in the consultative work of the training that I do, is that you ultimately have to believe in what it is that you're doing if you're in a sales role or for whatever reason. I really hate the phrase sales because ultimately you're just helping people with a solution, aren't you? But it's labeled sales and it's got its fans and not but it's the same thing. You can go out and deploy this because it's not just a belief, it's your core, how you live. And that's where that true Making Conversations Count with what it is that you're here to do and doing, really. Oh, kid. Thank you so much for turning up today to talk to a complete and utter stranger about such a massive, massive topic. We really could carry on, but I'm conscious of listeners time and your time. So if anybody wants to carry on the conversation because I encourage people to reach out to guests, where's the best place for them to find you?

00:46:53 –

Ian Williams Ian they want to connect with me about personal and community oriented work, whether it be personal development or whether it be climate work or whether it be spiritual development, That's revive If organizations want to get in touch in terms of organizational development, employee engagement, well being, social, environmental impact, that's Stillpointinsight, we'll make sure it's all on.

00:47:25 –

Wendy Harris The show notes so it's easy that they don't have to write it down and get the spelling wrong. Ian, it's been an absolute joy to speak to you. Can't thank you enough and really good luck with the book.

00:47:38 –

Ian Williams Thank you so much. I'd love to continue the conversation sometime down the road.

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