Off we go again, charging into a new decade. Starting off the new year is always invigorating with that momentary breath to stop, reset and focus on what we’ll change in the year ahead. But the start of a new decade should be different, it feels so much bigger than the start of a new year. It holds the promise of a whole new chapter for the whole of humanity, it deserves more than a few individual resolutions. It represents a marker in history where the leaders of the world should come together and rethink how we all work together to build a better future.
That old saying, “Hindsight is 2020” has been bouncing around in my head—that nod to the notion that it’s easy to know the right thing to do after something has happened, and it’s hard to predict the future. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” I hope he is right, but it doesn’t bend itself. Right now, it feels like a moment in history where the decisions we make today will forever affect future generations.
Trying to imagine what could be in the next decade ahead (likely to be one of the most formative in human history) is enough to make your head spin, so no predictions here about the radically transformational impact that the continuous onslaught of new technologies will have on every aspect of how we experience a more connected life. No predictions here either about the impact of significantly more people on the planet (8.5 billion by 2030) and how that footprint will change the way we physically coexist and how space will be at an ultra premium. No prediction here, but there is a challenge to every leader in a position of responsibility—rally to address the urgency with which we all need to adapt to address the climate emergency.
As more humans join our global family and the planet becomes more and more crowded, we will be more interdependent and connected physically and be under greater pressure to show up and treat each other (and the world) with more consideration and care. How we communicate and interact with each other is going to require significant adjustments to how we operate and cooperate. As we look back 10 years from now, success for humanity will be linked to whether we were able to be more empathetic, more effective communicators and more willing collaborators. Success will be measured by whether we have done significantly more good and a whole lot less harm to the world we depend on and each other. Driving responsible growth and progress has me energized and motivated to be a part of creating a brighter future for those who follow, where the connected human experience is well-balanced between the best of humanity combined with the power of technology and science to transform how we live for the better.
Whether you’re a partner, friend, parent, leader, teacher, politician or a combination thereof, we are called to show up and do more good to help fuel a better version of the world we live in. At the same time, we need to ask for more from each person in our lives and in our relationships to make the world spin more smoothly. To the leaders of communities, companies and governments, recognize that our positions hold significantly greater responsibilities that extend far beyond delivering on numbers. We need more from everyone who leads and is in a position of influence. Understand that it’s not about you, it’s about caring for the people you serve and more responsibly stewarding the precious resources in our care. As Gandhi so eloquently said, “You will find yourself if you lose yourself in the service of others.”
Take this month, if you haven’t already, to clarify a vision for how your efforts will shape the lives of others and the world we live in. Let’s be clear about how we will show up and what we are going to do more of that can make our families, companies, communities and our country a better place for others to thrive. As we jump into this new decade, let’s work harder at doing more of what makes humans good and do less to impact the planet we depend on. When I think about where we can do more good, the following are top of mind:
Diversity is humanity’s greatest defense against extinction. It represents one of our greatest opportunities to address the biggest challenges facing the world today. Let’s work together and embrace the strengths of our differences to build a fairer, safer, more prosperous future.
A connected, purpose-driven community on a mission focused on positive change, no matter the issue, has proven time and time again that when passionate people work together they bring back light where darkness temporarily has taken hold, and together they bend the arc of history back toward the good.
As citizens, history just doesn’t happen to us, we make history together. Our shared values guide our actions and our choices, and they in turn shape our character, which in turn shapes history. It’s time to dust off our founding principles and celebrate, elevate or refresh them. Imagine if we all use the power of our voice by voting and the value of our time volunteering devoted to a cause for good.
As we are bombarded with the sensationalism of every slight eventuality, the spew of pontificating pundits and the celebration of violence as entertainment, we must show and demonstrate more care and concern for the suffering and misfortunes of those who are impacted by crisis.
Let’s develop the ability for humans to understand, share and acknowledge how others are feeling and understand how our words and actions impact others, and let’s open the door wide and build more togetherness. Let’s design a class for empathy that’s taught in every elementary class in the world, every police academy and in every leadership (corporate and government) training course.
One of the greatest truths is that when we are grateful for what we have it opens the doors to all of life’s other virtues and transforms how we show up for ourselves and for others around us, and it’s a no-cost choice to put into practice now.
Imagine if we all put the needs of others first, talked about ourselves and thought about ourselves and our needs a whole lot less what a different world it would be. Putting a lot more of our selves into leadership and into relationships is the fuel we need to build bridges and bring more kindness, love, forgiveness and grace in the world. Humility is sexy.
I couldn’t think of a better way to make the case for more love in the world than using the opening from the movie Love Actually, “Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion is starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there—fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge—they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.”
Remember what it was like flying on a plane or riding on a subway with a smoking section? We got that whole tobacco thing way wrong. Climate is now a global emergency and our time on the clock is running out. It’s time for radical innovation and a switch to new solutions for a healthy planet and a thriving economy—just look at Tesla’s market cap for a nod toward how bold moves pay off.
As Americans, we must demand a clear and compelling long-term vision for where we are going, not for 2021 but for 2050. Not a concept statement intended to rally a base, but a vision that inspires and brings us together—one that informs a mission and inventive strategies that unify our country and transform how we live. It’s time to stop short-term thinking and plan for a better future. We must expect so much more from each other and from our leaders.
The music of Blue Oyster Cult, combined with the mystical presence of Christopher Walken combined with the genius of the cast of SNL is a reminder that in the middle of the seriousness we need more humor, more laughter and more opportunities to laugh at ourselves.
I hope that after reading the above you step back and intentionally commit to creating your own DO MORE GOOD list, because our actions will make a material difference to the lives of others. Let’s do “less us” and “more them” in 2020.