Letting Go Of 2012
As the year ends, can you identify a personal transition you went through in 2012? What is it that you left behind? What is it that you brought more into your life? What is it that you committed to? Change requires letting go and letting come. I often ignore how difficult it is to let go. Economists call it sunk costs. Buddhists call it attachment. Trapeze artists might call it suicide. But letting go is key for social change. The concept of transition is helpful, therefore, as it encourages us consider what to let go, rather than just what to push for or to create. This year I can look back on a personal transition. I have taken up the role of founder and Director of the Institute for Leadership and Sustainability (IFLAS) at the University of Cumbria. We are based in the heart of the beautiful Lake District in the UK, in the Ambleside Campus that was founded in 1892 to teach people how to guide experiential learning. All our work on leadership and sustainability will seek to enable personal and collective transitions to living in harmony with each-other and the planet.
To us, sustainability means that everyone thrives in harmony with the biosphere and future generations. That does not mean maintaining or spreading a particular way of life, but a transition from behaviours and systems that are destructive, towards those that restore the environment and support individual rights, wellbeing, and community. It implies a systemic shift; large numbers of persons and organisations acting in a significantly different way. A transition to sustainability involves promoting ecological integrity, collective wellbeing, real democracy, human rights, support for diversity, economic fairness, community resilience, a culture of compassion, inquiry, non-violence to all life and appreciation of beauty.
Studies of positive transformations suggest this shift will require interacting cultural, economic, technological, behavioural, political and institutional developments at multiple levels. Leaders during social transformations appear to have transcended a concern for self, yet sufficiently sustained their wellbeing, and empowered others. Therefore our work seeks to connect the systemic and the personal, and mobilise insights from diverse schools of thought on how transformations occur. We see the transition to a sustainable way of life as an adventure, which I explained on film is a theme that frames much of our work.
Research at IFLAS will focus on actionable knowledge, action research, combining diverse disciplines, linking local with global, and learning from old and new teachings that arise from diverse cultural settings. I describe the research areas in a brief video. I am currently welcoming inquiries about potential PhD research. There is one opportunity for receiving a bursary to cover fees.
Our education will draw on our heritage as a place of experiential learning for over a century. We currently run an MBA in Leadership and Sustainability.
A sustainability leaders’ summit in July will mark the official launch of IFLAS, but the first open event is on March 11th, where we will train people on how to launch and scale a local currency. Our website goes live at the end of January.
So what am I letting go?
In the coming months, the Lifeworth jobs portal will be merged with Globethics.net who will be able to develop it further and reach a wider audience. Projects at Lifeworth Consulting will now be managed by my brilliant and steadfast colleague Ian Doyle.
As the year comes to an end, try letting go.
Unless you work in a circus.
Or especially if you work in a circus?
Professor Jem Bendell
Director, Institute for Leadership and Sustainability (IFLAS)
University of Cumbria, UK
Charlotte Mason Building
Rydal Road, Ambleside
LA22 9BB, UK