Today I want to talk about the word “unique:” the one and only, the rare, the sole specimen, and what this has to do with sustainability (to endure or prolong.) I was reading a June 2012 article by Jaime Gillin in Dwell Magazine about the “Real Cost of Rip-Offs.” I was struck by the thought that when we create something that can be “recreated” with the same ingredients as the original, and we are not substituting essential elements, we create something of lasting value, sometimes a thing that can be used for or lasts for generations. Unlike knock-offs, we don’t find inferior materials or inferior workmanship or inferior ethics (isn’t that an oxymoron?) The integrity of the original idea or thing or business remains in tact. A silver spoon, a fine piece of furniture, a vintage wine, or a business that has been in existence for generations are all unique. Anyone in business wants that too. It spells success.
We quickly learn the difference between doctors, teachers, web designers, coaches, clothing, cars or whatever. These are a one-of-a-kind experience. This is what differentiates our businesses too. As Seth Godin says in Purple Cow, Otaku is the phenomenon that drives people – your customers – to seek you out, not someone else, not a knock-off: the same motivation for purchasing the same wine from a particular winery or the same chocolate from a particular chocolatier also drives customers to buy the information, products or experience from your company. It is what makes you unique.
In order to BE, to live into your uniqueness so to speak, you need to BE healthy. This means being well rested, well nourished, and in good physical condition. No brain-er, right? Well, some folks have lost their ability to know where or how to start, and others are completely denied their ability to live to their fullest. Poverty, socioeconomics, location, and lack of education may be the causes, but as individuals and as a society, we have the ability to change everything, even ourselves. In a recent report from Canada (Citywatch: Mental Health Report shows need for Screening Questions on Food), sited in Nourishing the Planet Project a link is made between mental health and “food consumption, urban green space and natural environments.” Well duh, isn’t that what we have been hearing pretty much from everyone from the doctor to articles in the paper and Oprah? Go check out the quizzes in the August issue of O, The Oprah Magazine to help you get perspective on your own Uniqueness.
Next we’ll talk about some of the creative men and women who can help you achieve that blissful state of Being, whether it’s fitness, diet, spirituality or rest; they all contribute to the foundation that supports everything you do.
You know how important water is for your health and well being, right? I don’t need to reiterate that we are made up of a huge percentage of water (87%) and that for brain function, not to mention everything else to function well, we need to drink plenty of it. Well I came upon this article in the paper on 7/12/12 The Valley News: Salmon Run Ends in Connecticut – an AP story by Wilson Ring about the end of the government program to stock the Connecticut and Merrimack Rivers with Salmon. As the author states “The larger perspective is that trout and salmon are the ultimate indicators of the health of the land because every single thing that we do on the land is indicated by the health of the rivers that surround us.” The rivers aren’t so healthy, so the government isn’t going to spend the money to stock the rivers anymore.
No big whoop for those who buy “farm fresh salmon” at the grocery store, or for those who are lucky enough (and have waders and wallets big enough) to go salmon or trout fishing in places like British Columbia or Greenland, but most of us are unaware of the decline of these wild fish because we don’t see a decline at the supermarket; only these aren’t the same fish. The picture is too big to make the connection between the loss of the wild fish and the health of our environment. The wild fish are biologically unique: they are magnificent anadromous animals, not like the farm-raised fish at all.
The point is two-fold: that water is way important for the survival of everything, including business, and two, the loss of uniqueness is bad for the health of the planet which supports all life. To quote “Life’s Chemical Basis” (Water of Life Sec 2.5): Life originates in water and is adapted to its properties. Water has temperature stabilizing effects and a capacity to act as a solvent for many other substances. These properties make life possible on earth.
“We Are Fluid Systems.” See Emilie Conrad describe this.
Mary Morrissey, a sensitive and gifted life coach, was talking about being “worthwhile” on her blog recently. She made the point that we have to decide to live up to our potential: to be worthwhile.
Each of us is unique, and it is the education we give ourselves, the nutrition we take in, the exercise we perform and the spiritual or mind-freeing meditation we engage in that helps us become the potential within. JJ Virgin, a successful nutrition and fitness coach is running a free webinar starting on July 18th for seven days with seven doctors all talking about your health.
Exploring the information on the internet helps us achieve our potential without leaving home. Over the coming weeks I will be sharing information about some of my favorite coaches and their programs for self discovery, like Chris and Janet Atwood, of the New York Times best- seller “The Passion Test.” There will be connections to men and women who teach business strategy, help you visualize your goals, grow your profits, create a product and even teach you how to give while receiving.
Your whole life is ahead of you starting right now.
There is a great article in Scientific American about Fracking, the process that uses huge amounts of fresh water and deadly chemicals to literally bust the rock (shale) apart in order to wring out the desirable gas, which is then processed into all the wonderful things we use the gas for. I am not a geologist, nor am I an engineer or even a person affected by the water or chemicals in a direct way, at least not right now.
There are some pretty horrific videos of the affects of the process if you care to watch.
I use the end products, in a sense, and have taken them for granted with no thought except to being able to turn on the gas to cook or heat the bath water. I don’t think I am alone. Anyway, as I read the article about the process, and the significant unknowns about how the shock to the underground structure might create fractures of unknown destination and potentially pollute subterranean water supplies, I was struck by the cost of using clean water and nasty chemicals, not to mention the destruction of life, as the true cost of the gas and oil presumed to come out the other side. (Scientific American video My Water’s on Fire). Kind of a Love Canal revisited.
The cost of extraction may seem reasonable by industry standards and fit into their bottom line, but it seems to me that little thought about true cost or respect has been given to the environmental impact, not to mention the people and animals being injured and poisoned to death. (How many PB Deep Horizons does it take to light a fire?) In The Valley News, (July 14th, 2012) a little AP article appeared announcing that three young protesters, one from the Upper Valley, had been arrested in Moshannon State Forest in Pennsylvania for blocking an access road for trucks headed to a fracking rig. Are these protesters the canaries in the mine?
The Triple Bottom Line is all about cost analysis based on Profit, People and Planet. These are the three ingredients necessary for a business, human beings and the planet to be sustainable. Pretty simple, but a business lesson many seem to be overlooking. To BE sustainable our business culture must consider the Triple Bottom Line or we risk not being in business at all.
Just as I have been speaking about how we are all unique and that in a sense there is no such thing as competition because we were all born with unique talents I, and the world recognize a difference form one athlete to the next so the defining situation has to do with comparison – the competition – and the Olympics will prove this. Just as some athletes were given stature or musculature or training opportunities that others didn’t have, or that on the day of the competition, the athletes didn’t get the same rest or nutrition, or warm-up period, or whatever doesn’t mean that in the greater sense they weren’t as good as the individual who “medals.” What it means is that in that moment in time – the competition – one individual did better than the rest.
At the foundation is our self. It is the place from which our strength flows: our thoughts, our knowledge, our physique, our ability to cope and stay focused under stress and be inventive and endure. It makes sense to prepare ourselves for the competition of business life; to use each opportunity to be mindful of those circumstances we can control. Like athletes, business owners need to train for the rigors of competitive business in order to be sustainable in business.
Sarah Starr, a gifted Yoga Teacher, offers this advice: “There is one easy pose renowned for its balancing and toning powers and I personally love its ability to cleanse the body from head to toe…yes, it’s twists!!!
If you’re like me, you want to take the easy route to feeling refreshed, calmer and rejuvenated…Luckily easy twisting movements squeeze and stretch the entire contents of the torso muscles, nerves, glands and organs from the pelvis all the way up through the neck. Better yet, its reclined position invites us to linger in the posture’s spirals, allowing the twist to move deep into the spine, how does it get better???”
I digressed from my story of the RESULTS International Conference, held in Washington, DC this year. Did I mention that it happened at the same time the International AIDS Conference was going on? No? Well, there were a LOT of people in Washington! (Elton John, Bill Gates and Yvonne Chaka Chaka, to name a few, and maybe even a Secretary of State!)
RESULTS is a grass-roots organization founded by a man named Sam Daley Harris back in the 1980’s. Today it is a thriving organization of ordinary volunteers “who cause extraordinary changes in public policy through phone calls, letters, and face-to-face meetings with public officials to accomplish an end to persistent hunger and the devastating impact of poverty.”
When I speak about how each of us is unique and how each of us has a gift to share with the world, I am speaking about those of us less fortunate in the world too. Joyce is a woman I met at the Conference and is a recipient of the medication to keep her HIV infection at bay, the disease she contracted from her (now deceased) husband. If it were not for the efforts of our grassroots activism to fully fund the Global Fund to keep working to ends the AIDS epidemic, she would not be alive today and her children would be orphaned. ALL mankind is important for the survival of our species. For human beings to be sustainable on this planet, let alone everything else, we must all be healthy to contribute.
Here I am at the airport waiting to fly to Washington, DC to attend the RESULTS International Conference and possibly sit in on the
International AIDS Conference as well. Two years ago I attended the Africa Middle East Microcredit Summit in Kenya, Africa with Marianne Williamson and a half dozen other women. It was an eye-opening experience, especially after touring the slums of Nairobi, and it has strengthened my belief that we as human beings are only as strong as the weakest among us.
We can conquer illness, illiteracy and financial disadvantage, but it will take many of us working together to empower and teach the people of the world who suffer greatly because of our disengagement.
I have been blogging about the importance of being strong and healthy for each one of us if we are to achieve our best and it is no different for the children in our cities or the slums of Africa. The disadvantaged peoples of the world are part of the currency of the Triple Bottom Line.
So my first day at the RESULTS Conference, was spent listening to my friend, Marianne Williamson, the gifted and wise woman who wrote such works as The Gift of Change (a personal favorite of mine), and Return to Love. (Go see the interview Oprah did with Marianne on July 29th, 2012.) Marianne was the woman who introduced me to RESULTS and inspired me to take the trip with her to Africa for the Africa Middle East Microcredit Summit back in 2010.
I had always considered myself “involved” in politics: knowing the issues and the players, but it has been a while since my Quaker-inspired Work Camp days in Philadelphia, or my VISTA service in Guam. Over the years I left the “heavy lifting” to those younger and faster. I was still interested, but didn’t engage as much – or at all for a time.
With the elections coming up I want to help you see just how much our legislators need to hear from us. Our unique perspectives help them to make decisions worthy of all of us. When all they hear is one perspective, mainly from people who are paid to have an opinion, how can the balance we so need be accomplished? To hear both sides of an argument, a discussion, the pros and cons, we need people willing to hear an opposing view and be able to extract the pivotal points without rancor and work toward a joint solution. We really do need people like you to voice your opinions and tell the stories of how something has or will affect you.
“In the beginning was the Word.”
On Monday at the RESULTS Conference, we prepared for our trip to visit our Senators and Congressmen on Capitol Hill. You have no idea how few constituents visit their elected officials, not just in Washington, DC, but in their home districts as well. How important it is for us to voice our opinions and ask questions, to be informed and actively participate in our government. Letters are good, especially when thanks are offered for their tireless work or a particular vote they have cast, but the dialog, even with the highly trained staff, is invaluable. It offers perspective.
Sarah Susanka, the architect who wrote the “Not So Big House” series and most recently, “The Not So Big Life,” talks about how another point of view creates perspective for us, and that a third point creates context. Concentrate on what is important to you, your point of view. You have the opportunity to voice your point of view and participate at a much more impactful level. When more of us do this, we create the critical context that distinguishes our form of government from so many others. Simply casting a vote in November, when many of the decisions have already been made, is like letting someone else decide life for you. Letting your officials know what you think and why, whether it’s at a school board meeting, in a Town Council meeting, or at your State level, letting officials who make the decisions hear your voice gives them perspective they wouldn’t otherwise have and truly shows the intent of the people.
Because we are all talented, gifted people, each of our voices is critical for the health and sustainability of our form of government and the action plans our officials develop for our Nation. Sharing in the decision-making is part of the gift we are given here in this country.
Let your voice be heard!