Bursting your bubble and 5 things you can do to make 2020 great again or… about more than COVID-19.
Coronavirus. Uneven human suffering. Leadership voids. Politics. Complexity. Gameplay. Self-interest over the public who voted for you.
Climate change. Technology over humanity. Broken systems, problems too big to solve. The biggest of winners, and so many significant losers. In 2020, we’ve been more in our bubble than we have ever before.
Enough is enough.
This year cannot be solely known as the ‘Rona Year’. We need to reflect on what could have been done to stop the spread, flatten the curve, support sick or vulnerable people and remember those that we unfortunately lost. The numbers are easy to say, but it mutes the reality.
The sobering reality.
At the time of writing this there is currently:
- Over 33,401,514 known cases worldwide.
- Over 56,000,000 unemployed in the USA alone.
- Over 1,002,676 known deaths worldwide.
Every case, every unemployed person, every death – real, sad, sobering. A family, a network of friends, colleagues, a community or network of communities – all impacted.
Not to mention a newfound level of anguish, despair and deeper mental health problems small or big for nearly everyone on the planet…
How are we going to get our shit together?
We need to use the emotion, the contemplative state to actively seek out new perspectives and ideas – especially those with ways of seeing the world that are different to our own.
I’m not usually a quote person, but Simon Sinek recently posted
Simple, clear and right – I couldn’t agree more with you Simon!
So, here are five things that I think we can do, to get our shit together.
Five Things to get your Shit Together.
1. From Learned Helplessness to Learned Hopefulness
Some of the most heated, most emotive debates we’ve witnessed this year have come without the clues we need as humans to balance the rhetoric – body language, expression or even any real interaction. Interestingly, they came in group messages like Facebook or Instagram. And those group chats became really heated, really fast. So heated that I secretly started to miss the pictures of homemade hamburgers, or latte art, or videos of funny things kids do, or a childish joke.
As I sit here in the US, instead of sharing a photo of a meal with a loved one safely and by the rules at a restaurant, we suddenly swam against a wall of judgement for risking the lives of workers. All of a sudden we were seen as deeply capitalist and perpetrators of the evil restauranteurs that exploit lowly paid workers.
And while the US system of minimum wages needs a lot of work – I don’t feel like the devil for craving connectivity, because I see our communities and economy as a sum of individuals working together. I don’t think I am deeply capitalist if I naturally connect with that part of living that comes from the sum of people who work day in, day out to provide products, services and more to the community. I like to interact with different people, cultures and food. I am very happy to do that safely, so I am safe and so they are safe.
As I swam momentarily against online walls of judgement, I noticed I felt helpless. Do I go out or do I not go out? What’s the right thing to do? I couldn’t find a hopeful message of what I could actually do. It felt like I just had to haul up inside for a long burrito-less existence.
I realised that I was unconsciously looking to find a hopeful message of what I could do to make a difference. Now I’m not claiming everything has to be hopeful. It’s ok to disagree. It’s ok to think that claiming ordering takeout with a big tip to the restaurant is moral high ground. And it’s ok for me to think it’s just moving the risk to another owner. From waiter or server to delivery driver.
But maybe there’s something there – about needing a way even in really trying times to feel hopeful, not helpless and that there is something you can do to make a difference. That it’s ok to debate, but we need to do it with optimism to what’s next.
2. If we believe the individual cannot enact change, we’re done for.
With the restaurant debates, came a lot of talk on what you can do as an individual vs. the collective. If we just try to do ‘individual things’ then we don’t change the collective. But, if we don’t do individual things, the collective, or the system cannot move. When we look at inspirational people, they have the knack of getting this just right. Look at Ruth Bader Ginsburg, as a great case in point (but there are so many more). These people demonstrate many great qualities, including the strongest moral code and a belief that individuals can drive change. And they are optimistic that they can make it. I’d argue that what they said, what they did, did not radically shift as their influence grew – simply, more people heard it, and it snowballed.
Put beautifully by my colleague Suzanne, the example of the boy on the beach with a thousand washed up starfish. Putting them back one by one, he was told he was not making a difference and he pointed to one and said ‘I helped that one’.
That is everything.
3. Stop judging others.
We all have some level of in-built judgment. We know of biases, stereotypes, assumptions, schemas. They’re all built into us – by our wiring, our circumstances, our upbringing, our experiences and more.
This year I’ve been reminded of some of the best moments with colleagues, clients and friends. And surprisingly, it is often when things highlight how different we are, that we can make sense of each other and come together through those differences. But, this does take an open mind.
A client showing up in a cow-print onesie.
Our team having a cat wander on a doorsill – or a Son getting ready for school waving to his Mum’s virtual friends and colleagues.
A client discussing systemic racism and what it feels like to be looking over your shoulder every day to stay safe, to be cutely interrupted by his young daughter wanting her Dad. And getting an impromptu Baby Shark sing-along too.
What we really need, is to stop judging others. Not some policy about dressing for your day, or casual Fridays, or rules for flexible work.
We need the mindset that says “I don’t care how you show up, but I really want you to be there with me”.
4. Debate, Disagree, Learn
With my perspectives on restaurants and capitalism and other systems and more, I am judged. I am also judgmental. I am human, with emotion and opinions that I’ll defend and if you push the right buttons I’ll retaliate. With a few words, a joke, a retort. You are the same. How you react could be a little different, but more likely than not, you’ll have your way.
Even though these debates feel uncomfortable, they are actually exactly what we need. In fact, we need more of them, not less.
In 2020, I actually want to be more pissed off than ever before. I don’t want to be angry – I won’t be. But, I do want you to throw an information punch, or an opinion bomb. And I want you to disagree with me, and I want to know why you do. I will be deeply respectful of you, and I know you will of me. And we will both be better for it.
We’ve all seen the diagrams about learning, about growth coming from discomfort when we’re stretched outside of our comfort zones. This is when we change our shape. What if we backed that every individual can have an impact, and in every interaction we need to debate, disagree and learn. That would be HUGE.
Right now, we are not having these debates very well. We are stuck in our bubbles, hearing the same stuff. Technology is enabling that, isolation is enabling that, and the unfortunate consequence is that our viewpoints aren’t being challenged and tempered by others. Instead we’re stuck in our own paradigms.
It’s ok if you come imperfectly, in fact, I hope you do. Because that’s real. That is me, and that is you. It gives me permission to show up as I am. And, it’s human.
5. Burst the bubble, don’t only share the bad news.
For a group of optimists and realists at mwah. we know that social media, and media, and often the groups we hang out with create bubbles. And these bubbles are getting bigger and bigger, yet shallower and shallower in 2020. And it’s time to pop them.
We can’t simply see bad news, nor should we only see the good, but we need to dive in and out of different bubbles – in our pursuits of having no bubble at all.
2020 has to be the year we get our shit together. There’s still time. It’s been a unique reset – the kind that is a ‘once in a generation’ moment. From the ashes, must rise better individuals and a better collective.
So, work through your emotion your way, take care for yourself and those around you. When ready, join us and let’s get our shit together. Let’s burst the bubble. Let’s be realistic, yet optimistic – learn hopefulness, not helplessness. Let’s commit to stopping the judgement, let’s do better at debating, discussing and learning.
And, let’s not for a second believe that individuals cannot make change – or we are through.
It starts with you.
***This article came from our weekly debate and discuss meeting – where we bring our unique perspectives to passionately and directly challenge each other. Shout out to Rhonda, Sally, Suzanne and Jess in particular for assessing the current reality and tirelessly moving things forward to be better than they were before.