2020 has been a heightened year of unpredictable moments – moments of happiness, moments of sorrow and loss, and moments of uncertainty. It is in these moments, that we can find the seed of a movement. The beginning of an idea worth capturing to create change – both as a society and in our own lives.

Bear with me – as I take you on a little journey….

A little bit of history – the ripple effect of the telephone

1876 – Alexander Graham Bell had a moment. While working on inventing a harmonic telegraph, Bell found himself wondering if he could transmit a human voice over wires.

In a clumsy moment, he knocked over a container of transmitting fluid and shouted to his partner Watson (the engineer behind the team). What Watson heard in that moment (Bells voice through the wire) was the first ever telephone call.

While this was the lightbulb moment that we all know, so many moments led to this breakthrough. Bell first started working with his father in order to understand the

science of sound, to find a way to help his mother and wife who were deaf. He had always been a problem solver and had a passion for creating things to make life easier. For instance, one of his first inventions was a grain husking device.

This moment started a movement. Today, innovation in communication technology has  revolutionised the world and continues to do so at an accelerating rate. And, it all came from Bells breakthrough moment. Bell’s moment (and movement) came from a deeply human purpose – a man wanting to make the world a better place not for himself, but for others who experienced deafness.

Modern moments – Greta Thunberg and standing for change

Now for a more modern moment. Greta Thunbergs moment and intention was simple. She wanted to take a stand on climate change – to take her own small action. So, she started standing outside parliament with a sign saying, ‘school strike for climate’. Gradually, that moment saw others join in and a global movement began.  From this simple moment, ‘Fridays for Future’ was born. Her impact on the climate movement, in particular for encouraging younger generations to speak up, has been enormous.

“The one thing we need more than hope is action. Once we start to act, hope is everywhere. So instead of looking for hope, look for action. Then, and only then, hope will come”. - Greta Thunberg

Moving moments and hope into action

There is a fundamental thing underpinning all of this – transitioning moments into action. In both examples we see someone taking action, not just for their own purposes, but to improve the lives of others and of society. They didn’t just sit hoping that it would happen, they made something happen, even if that meant a seemingly small and individual action.

This got me thinking about us as individuals and in our workplaces. In every moment we have the opportunity to create a wider movement. Whether it be a moment that ripples just to those nearest to us, or a disruptive moment that creates a movement in an entire business or community –  we all have that chance to turn moments of significance into movements that matter.

So which moments do I want to see turning into movements?

I want to see the ones which help people to thrive:

  • Flexible working – not being just a ‘mandated due to COVID-19’ moment, but a movement where we recognise how much better our lives can be with greater balance. And when we thrive, we do more than survive – we are at the top of our game.
  • Culture – not just ‘front page of the paper’ moments, but real movements towards regularly reviewing our culture, what the people in it feel and how we can make our workplaces (virtual or physical) great places where we can bring our whole selves to work.
  • Belonging – what if we could all find more genuine moments every week where we feel like we Belong. Belong to our community. Belong to our work tribe. From those early COVID days when we learned more about our colleagues than we’d ever learnt before – those moments should create movements where we can care, deeply and personally about one another.

So, if we are going to take moments to movements – I ask you, which moments are you going to turn into a movement? And most importantly, how are you going to bring others along for the ride?