A time for guts

There is only so much governments and corporations can do. The time has come for us to find our backbone and take a bit of personal responsibility. It’s a time for guts. Back in March I wrote a blog here about courage that argued that courage was not about heroic acts, but more an engagement with our convictions that filters into the everyday decisions of our lives. It’s a topic that I often return to when thinking about events going on in the world around us.


On Friday I received the latest copy of my favourite magazine Ode in the mail, and inside was a wonderful article titled “A call for guts” in which the author makes the argument that it is not a lack of selflessness or empathy or caring that causes much of the suffering in the world; what we actually need is more individual backbone (you can read the article here).


Then on Saturday I was part of the Walk against warming, the annual march against the woeful inaction of world leaders in the face of the climate crisis. (Here is my photo of the crowd.)

Walk against warming, 15 Nov 2008


At the rally (which was replicated around the country) the contents of the article in Ode took on greater meaning. The author makes the point that for the vast majority of societies like ours, we feel disempowered and overwhelmed in the face of massive corporate and government interest – that our actions can’t make a difference. And when that happens individual accountability goes out the window and our actions become someone else’s responsibility.


The climate crisis provides a great example of this. Sure, goverments and corporations, their decisions and lack of action on this issue are a huge problem, but the biggest issue is the message that it sends to people, that they can’t make a difference. From that comes a kind of adhoc approval, or at least removal of personal responsibility for our own actions and the contribution they make the problem.


And while there is no denying that what each person does or doesn’t do is only a drop in the bucket, when you are talking millions (locally) and billions (globally) of drops, the bucket overflows pretty quickly.


However (and this is the same for small issues in the workplace as for large social issues), when we all individually take responsibility and modify our behaviour and decisions, the collective results can be unstoppable.


It takes guts to make those changes. Deferring responsibility for our actions to others (be it the goverment, the corporation, the group, the team) is really so much easier. But where’s the courage in that?


See you next week!



Alignment is Michel’s passion. Through her work with Brandology here in Australia, and Brand Alignment Group in the United States, she helps organisations align who they are, with what they do and say to build more authentic and sustainable brands.

For more Cultural Leadership blogs, click here.



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