Emergence (Part 2)

Emergence (Part 2)

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She danced. When confronted by a video of her dancing in her youth, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was not embarrassed and did not play down this experience. Instead, she joyously danced into her Congress office and posted a video of it. This video exploded online, bringing her human, no-nonsense style to a whole legion of new voters and rattling the old guard, causing them to recognise that something very new is emerging in America.

Trump resonates with voters because he is unafraid to be himself. He connects with people on an emotional level, which traditional politicians fail to do. Beneath the explosion of right-wing movements built on fear and separation is the fact that people are feeling these emotions, inside. It isn’t rational – it’s emotional. To rid the world of the wave of negative, divisive right-wing populism, we need to consider the emotional needs that are not being met by traditional politics in its current form.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is doing this on a whole new level, as a straight-talking super-smart young woman from the Bronx. She is delivering; filling the vacuum of human connection and hope that the political system – and the world – has been waiting for.

Last year, I wrote about the phenomenon of emergence, and I wanted to follow up with a post that helps readers to see what it looks like when it starts to occur. I’ve often said that changing the world should not be a serious business.

Narratives on important issues like climate change are all around – and these matters are urgent and serious, yet it seems impossible to do anything about them fast enough.

What will move the masses is not sacrifice and doom, but fun, hope and inspiration. What I learnt from the Apollo Programme and changemakers like Pam Warhurst (from Incredible Edible) and Jason Roberts (from Build a Better Block) is that there are opportunities to create change in new ways that will topple the current formal, inhumane way of politics.

Irrespective of whether Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez succeeds or not, she has sent out to the world a new message or narrative that the old systems need to be dismantled in a human way. She will inspire a wave of new leadership that will succeed. Her dance was an act of permission to that generation. Be unapologetically who you are, and go out and make things happen. If you do, change will come.

They say we have only 12 years to address climate change before it becomes unstoppable. I say, that’s plenty of time for the human collective to come together and achieve something really bold. For that to happen, we need the emergence of new leaders who understand the deep emotional connection that people need to inspire them into collective action. On the world stage, we are now starting to see that happen.

It is possible to predict a far better future and start working towards it, trusting that incredible people and projects will emerge, to make things easier. I co-founded The Dandelion Foundation, trusting that a new world was possible in our lifetime and many people from all over the world would be involved in building it. Knowing this deep down, but not necessarily being able to see it, we set sail 5 years ago.

Optimism and trust are great skills for building a more hopeful future. They are also skills that can be learnt and developed. Practise them, and see how your world changes.

  • What would you do if anything was possible?
  • What would you do if you could not fail?
  • What would you do if there were lots of other people to support you in the same dream?

These are the questions to ask yourself – to encourage you into action.

To emergence.


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  1. Sarah Felmingham says

    Dear Marc
    I too have a vision to make change happen.
    I would be keen to meet you for a cuppa to tell you more.

  2. Another inspiring blog post, Marc. Thank you.
    To me, another challenge is for emerging leadership to face, and overcome, fear.
    Fear of failure, fear of being different, fear of being found out as a fraud (imposter syndrome), fear of losing your job, and so on.
    By doing a thought exercise: “what is the worst that can happen”, we can drill down to our core fears and heal and find our truest direction.
    In my head I imagine that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has faced many fears and danced her way through them all.
    All power to her and those that she inspires so that we can move past the divisive fear-based politics that has gained traction globally.

  3. Just a quick clarification on the climate change comment, because it’s a really important point that could potentially be misconstrued.

    Climate change is already unstoppable: the planet is already 1 degree warmer than pre-industrial levels and we’re already experiencing climate change: more frequent and intense extreme weather events (hurricanes, heat waves, wildfires, droughts and floods, for example), significant ice cap melt, rising sea levels, climate-related species extinction etc.

    The 12-year time horizon is the extremely narrow window of opportunity we have not to stop climate change but to slow it and limit warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. This is an important goal because while a rise of 1.5 degrees would be very bad, it’s not as catastrophic as a rise of 2 degrees, which would be very much worse. For example, between 10 and 30% of the world’s coral reefs stand a chance of surviving in the 1.5 degree scenario, whereas they would be virtually wiped out (less than 1% would survive) in the 2 degree scenario – something that would have a profound and devastating impact on the marine ecosystem and the people whose livelihoods and food security depend on it. That’s just one of many areas of impact: the scope of the problem – from coastal defences to food security to infectious disease to climate refugees to name just a few aspects – is frankly mind-boggling.

    That half a degree is the difference between really bad and catastrophic. While scientists think it is technically possible to limit warming to the least-worst-case scenario of 1.5 degrees, they are under no illusions about how incredibly difficult it will be to achieve in reality. They acknowledge that in fact realistically it is nearly impossible. We will need to reduce carbon emissions by a whopping 45% on 2010 levels by 2030, reducing net emissions to zero by 2050. The scale of the challenge is immense, but the consequences of failure are too painful not to try.

    The 12-year time horizon cannot in any sense be regarded as ‘plenty of time’. As the UN Secretary-General was at pains to point out a few weeks ago, we have no time to lose. We don’t have 12 years to inspire bold action: we need to need to take bold action right now, and ideally at least ten years ago. In terms of the window of opportunity, 2030 is not the starting gun to implement meaningful measures: it is the cut off point by which those measures need to have taken sizeable effect.

    The good news is that with a huge amount of co-ordinated political, industry and community will and some very swift, bold action we might just be able to keep warming closer to the 1.5 degree threshold than the much more severe 2 degree threshold. The bad news is that we are currently on track to hit 3 degrees or more. It is no exaggeration to say that the 3 degree scenario (which is a whole order of magnitude worse than the 2 degree scenario) is beyond catastrophic: it is probably more accurate to describe it as apocalyptic.

    The scale of the problem and the urgency we must dedicate to solving it is hard to overstate. It’s so important to counter the idea that there is plenty of time to tackle this issue because at least 6000 climate scientists are telling us in no uncertain terms that there is not a minute to lose.

    • Thanks for the very rational and factual response Lindsay. My point is that she took the time to dance. Urgency, seriousness and fear have a downside that slows down the response to climate change. It prevents the movement from finding some of the fastest tools to make fast change. In some dimensions we need to go slow to go fast.

  4. Perfect timing!

    • Getting things factually correct 100% of the time isn’t something that resonates with people. In fact the more ‘right’ people appear the more people seem to switch off from connecting with them on a human level. Humans are not rational beings and consequently they don’t make choices in way we often think they should. In the real time world those who are comfortable and confident enough to play ‘fast and loose’ are the ones that eat the traditional ‘don’t get it wrong’ politics with its armies of spin doctors etc. The polished spin merchants can’t react quick enough to real-time adaptability of those who operate with less polish. She will make lots of mistakes. That is why her popularity will grow.

      • “Getting things factually correct 100% of the time isn’t something that resonates with people. In fact the more ‘right’ people appear the more people seem to switch off from connecting with them on a human level”. That’s a pretty broad generalisation there, Marc. Can you back this statement up with any data, or is it just purely anecdotal or simply your own view? Also, if being more ‘right’ switches off a connection on a human level, then what would being more ‘wrong’ do? 100% accurate regarding facts and figures suggests, to me, that a politician is illustrating that they have accurately researched at least some,if not all, of the body of evidence pertaining to a particular topic before coming to a valid conclusion/viewpoint and subsequent recommendation/plan of action. Yes, there are ‘lies, damned lies and statistics’, but getting things 100% factually correct is quite probably very important to a lot of people/voters as this shows a politician has paid attention to the importance of real-life statistics and repaid some of the faith their supporters/electorate have in them to formulate an informed approach.

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