Category: Community

The Weekly Green: Juice for the Journey #19

Brown Residence by: Julie Gabrielli

Week 19

When I am working on a problem, I never think about beauty but when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong. ~ R. Buckminster Fuller

Beauty is love made manifest. Approaching a problem with such open-heartedness brings in all the inspiration, creativity, and quantum leaps that are available to us. We are all born geniuses, so when we admire genius in someone like Bucky Fuller, we acknowledge that potential within ourselves. This week, how will you choose to tap the fullness and flow of your natural genius?

More: Bucky Fuller was wonderfully quotable. Read more quotes here.

Read the Weekly Green from Week 18 here.

We always love to hear from you! How juicy is this quote for you?

“Why” is the juice behind going green

photo by: Chris Armstrong

When I work with clients, whether on a design project or a sustainability initiative, I notice that people tend to go straight to technologies, strategies, and solutions. These certainly have their place, but they are not enough to sustain the project or the change campaign over the long haul.

Why not? In any creative venture when multiple variables are considered, we hit walls. Roadblocks. Stumbling points. Especially in collaborations, which basically covers everything in the world of business. (Isn’t it odd how effective collaboration is not generally taught in school? More on that another time.)

The most efficient way out of those impasses is a clear sense of purpose – in other words, knowing your “why.” Organizations that have a clear sense of why leave people inspired and excited about solving tough problems. On the other hand, if you are overly invested in specific what’s and how’s, it is very difficult to see new possibilities when a problem inevitably arises.

The importance of knowing not only WHAT we are creating, changing, or doing, but WHY, is put very elegantly by Simon Sinek in his book, “Start With Why.” Full disclosure: I haven’t yet read the book, but his website has some great video and downloads that explain the very simple concepts.

Sinek’s “Golden Circle” is a great visualization: three concentric rings with “why” in the center, then “how,” and finally “what.” Why is, fittingly, at the core. In his words, “why” speaks directly to our emotions, which is the place in our brain where decisions are made. When we align intuition and emotion with abstraction and planning, it’s a powerful combination.

As an example, Sinek points out, Martin Luther King had strong beliefs about justice and human rights. That was his “why.” He happened to live at a time when a great movement was stirring; that was the “what.” In his many inspiring speeches, he spoke about what he believed, and that became contagious. When he stood up to make his famous speech on the Mall in Washington, D.C., he didn’t say, “I have a plan.” He said, “I have a dream.”

I recently asked a client – a commercial photographer – to tell me her “why.” Here it is: “I suppose my “why” has to do with living what I believe, despite the personal costs. When I die I want to know that I have lived a life without hypocrisy. My success will not be measured in dollars, but rather in promises I have kept.”

I know her to be someone who conscientiously walks her talk. In her photography work, she switched to digital before anyone else – motivated initially by the environmental benefits. When she hired me to help them renovate an old barn into a gorgeous photo studio, the priorities were energy efficiency, salvaged and non-toxic materials, and solar hot water heat. She just seems to have an innate sense of how to prioritize and live her values through all aspects of her business. As she says in a recent blog post, “I have come to a cross roads on my career path and want now more than ever to wade into good-for-the-world commerce.”

What’s the “green why” in your project, green campaign, or brand? How clear is it to your clients, customers, and employees – both present and prospective?

The Weekly Green: Juice for the Journey #18

photo by: Julie
Week 18

My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure. ~ Abraham Lincoln

Of the many great thoughts on failure, I love how jarring this one is. For me, being content with failure means wallowing in victim mode, rather than doing the hard work of self-inquiry. Our failures present such a rich opportunity to learn and grow – perhaps more rapidly than our successes. Alain de Botton puts it more gently: “We should not feel embarrassed by our difficulties, only by our failure to grow anything beautiful from them.” This week, what can you grow from your difficulties?

More: When’s the last time you read the Gettysburg Address? Out loud? Find the history and full text here.
For a chuckle, check out the Power Point version.

Read the Weekly Green from Week 17 here.

We always love to hear from you! How juicy is this quote for you?

The Weekly Green: Juice for the Journey #16

photo by: Julie

Week 16

Ask not what the world needs; rather, ask what makes you come alive and go do that, for what the world needs is people who have come alive. ~ Dr. Howard Thurmond

While we are all born with the capacity to live this way, it is unusual to find people with the self-awareness, clarity, confidence, and faith to really do it. We are products of education, cultural training, and parental expectations that tend to push us in pre-determined directions. This week, ask yourself if you are living this related thought by Frederick Buechner: “The vocation for you is the one in which your deep gladness and the world’s deep need meet — something that not only makes you happy but that the world needs to have done.”

More: Read a bio of Howard Thurmond, raised by his grandmother, who had been a slave.

Read the Weekly Green from Week 15 here.

We always love to hear from you! How juicy is this quote for you?

7 simple secrets to “Switch” to green

Change does not come easily to us, as a species. We are hard-wired to prefer the status quo, to drag our feet or over-analyze to the point of paralysis when changes are proposed. Fortunately, a new book addresses this in an engaging and enlightening manner: “Switch: how to change things when change is hard,” by Dan and Chip Heath. (Get the book here.) I’ve pulled out seven secrets from this book to help you to design a smooth transition to a greener business.

1. Use a metaphor to understand the three parts to effective change. Using vivid examples, the authors illustrate the story of the rider and the elephant. The rider is our rational brain; the elephant is our emotions. Both are actively functioning in us; the trick is to engage them each in ways they understand.

• The rider – avoid analysis paralysis by providing specific instructions and direction
• The elephant – give people an emotional hook to instill hope and motivation
• The path – change the circumstances or environment, such as by using social pressure

2. Direct the rider. Find, study, and replicate the “bright spots.” Look around and notice who is having success, how are they doing it, and get others to do that too. We tend to focus on what’s wrong or what’s broken and how do we fix it. Bright spots shift our focus instead to what’s working right now and how can we do more of it. That’s tremendously motivating for the elephant.

Ask these Bright Spot questions:

• What is working?
• How can we do more of that?

3. Script the critical moves. It’s not enough to ask your team to “be more green” or “waste less.” If you are leading a change effort, you need to remove the ambiguity from your vision of change. Ladder your way down from a change idea to a specific action.

4. Point to the destination. There is no way to orchestrate an entire change process from Day 1 to the desired result. Instead, send your team a “destination postcard” that vividly describes the end-goal and appeals to them emotionally. Then, script the critical moves to get them started off on the right foot. This helps the rider to translate aspirations into actions. If you have the beginning and the end well-defined, the middle part will evolve organically.

5. Go after behavior. Everyone who is trying to effect change sets goals. The more successful change transformations set behavioral goals. For instance, project teams will meet once a week and each team will include at least one representative of every functional area.

6. Behavior first, then mindset shift. Contrary to popular belief, knowledge does NOT change behavior. You have to practice the new behavior, to act your way into a new way of thinking. Knowing is NOT ENOUGH. Also, be aware that some information is “TBU”: True, But Useless.

7. Find the small tweaks. We think of big, systemic change as having to be long and arduous. Counter-intuitively, small adjustments can work miracles, as anyone who has ever tinkered with their golf swing can attest. This book has example after example to illustrate that big problems are NOT best solved with big, systemic solutions. They are often solved with many small solutions, unrolled over time.

Reading “Switch” has crystallized much of my recent thinking into a powerful framework for change. Let me know when you try out some of these strategies, what the results are for you. I’d love to hear your story.

The Weekly Green: Juice for the Journey #15

photo by: Julie

Week 15

Everything we love can be saved. ~ Alice Walker

I like to play with how I read this. The obvious way: that there is hope for everything we love. Another way: that our love is a kind of superpower that allows us to save anything. By approaching a problem with love, we step into a stream of grace that makes anything possible. This week, try approaching a problem with love and see what happens.

More: Watch Alice Walker on balance and the earth.

Read the Weekly Green from Week 14 here.

We always love to hear from you! How juicy is this quote for you?

The Weekly Green: Juice for the Journey #14

WaterShed, University of Maryland 2011 Solar Decathlon entry

Week 14

The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them. ~ Albert Einstein

How can we avoid adding to the confusion that is our modern world? On one hand, we think we have to work within the system in order to change it. On the other, we see examples of people who have gone outside the system and started over. What if both are the answer? As long as we approach it with equal measures of acceptance and challenge, we have a chance to effect change.

More: Solar Decathlon is a good example of this. Boundless creativity within the bounds of a tightly-defined competition.

Read the Weekly Green from Week 13 here.

We always love to hear from you! How juicy is this quote for you?