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Influencing the system

Welcome to Love Mondays, a weekly newsletter designed as a 3-minute hit to fire up the other 10,077 minutes of your week.

Stemming from the system

How lucky are we to wake up this Monday morning in the privileged position of understanding we live within a system, and we are a part of that system, thereby indicating we can change that system?

How might you map a system that you are operating in?

Draw it.

Consider: what parts of the system don’t feel as though they work for others?

Practice: developing an awareness of the leverage points of the system

Decide to: disrupt one small part of the system, using the guide below

The Global Citizen

Dr Donella H. Meadows, a Pew Scholar in Conservation and Environment and a MacArthur Fellow, was one of the most influential environmental thinkers of the twentieth century. I know her as the matriarch of systems thinking. Between 1986 and her death in 2001, Donella Meadows wrote a weekly column, The Global Citizen. There were well over 700 of them! (And I thought notching up my 50th Love Mondays today was quite an achievement!) Donella famously articulated a frame for understanding the complex nature of systemic impact. Her 12 steps are detailed below; however, the true brilliance of Donella was her belief in our individual ability to intervene in and influence the system.

I love this quote taken from Donella’s final column before her death:

There’s only one thing I do know. If we believe that it’s effectively over, that we are fatally flawed, that the most greedy and short-sighted among us will always be permitted to rule, that we can never constrain our consumption and destruction, that each of us is too small and helpless to do anything, that we should just give up and enjoy our SUVs while they last, well, then yes, it’s over. That’s the one way of believing and behaving that gives us a guaranteed outcome.

Personally, I don’t believe that stuff at all. I don’t see myself or the people around me as fatally flawed…We are not helpless and there is nothing wrong with us except the strange belief that we are helpless and there’s something wrong with us. All we need to do, for the bear and ourselves, is to stop letting that belief paralyze our minds, hearts, and souls.

Every system is an ecosystem. We need only look inside ourselves to understand how we perpetuate it, and outside ourselves to understand our impact. The challenge is to think systemically this week!

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