Idea's space

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Posts Tagged ‘commitment

For a Sustainable Planet

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70.000 people mobilized in Brussels to ask for political measures in favor of the planet protection.

Today we were around 70.000 people gathered in Brussels to manifest in favor of a political change for the climate. But it is not the first manifestation of its kind. In recent weeks, students coming from different parts of the country, inspired by the action of Greta Thunberg, a young Swedish student climate activist, skipped school and came in Brussels to manifest too.  On 17th of January, they were around 12.500. On 24/01, there were 35.000!  Such mobilization can only rejoice us, insofar as it is a part of a sustainable ambition and strong commitment.

Climate change is a real challenge for the coming years. We already notice negative effects of the human activity on the climate. But the challenge is much bigger than the climate change, it is the preservation of our earth.  To reach such goal, it is important to see concrete actions on different levels. First of all, there is the individual action. Each of us, we can contribute to preserve the nature by changing our habit, by thinking to have a way of live having less impact on our environment. But changes in our live are never easy. Most of the time, we see changes as constraints instead of opportunities. By minimizing the usage of our car and using public transports or a bike for our travels, by consuming more responsibly, by recycling our waste or buying products with less or no packaging, we can contribute positively to our environment. But such change is an incremental process. It implies to change our habit, to be more organized, and to be convinced that it is not only on an individual level we have to act but on a collective level. Each of us we have to be an inspiring example to motivate the others. That Is why I mentioned that to manifest for the climate is a good point but it has to be followed by concrete actions, and it is not just the business of the others.

But if the individual action is a good start point, it remains insufficient. A real political action is also needed. We can only contribute to build a better environment if the political authorities implement a real environmental politic. We can reduce the usage of car if we have efficient public transports networks, if we have a secure infrastructure for cycling paths, and also some tax incentives. The reduction of car usage in big cities doesn’t solve only the problem of pollution, but also the problems of mobility, having a negative economic impact. We can reduce our wastes or recycling them, if there is an organized and efficient system for collecting and sorting wastes. But it is always better to reduce as much as possible the quantity of waste. Political authorities have to be aware that not all people are equal facing ecology,  that it is also a social issue. It is more difficult for vulnerable people to adopt green measures and habits that requires investments, such as the isolation of the home. Vulnerable people cannot be excluded from that issue and considered responsible for not acting.

A third important point is the contribution of the industry. Industry is responsible for a big part of the pollution. Most of the time, financial aspects are more important than ecological aspects. Ecology is seen as a constraint instead of an opportunity. It is obvious that our natural resources are limited, and that we are consuming more than the earth can regenerate its resources. And to hide this reality is the result of a short term vision, and most of the time, short term visions lead to failure.  Same as for us, ecology is seen as a constraint instead of an opportunity.  If you are looking backwards, only companies facing changes and anticipating succeed. Investments in clean technologies are opportunities to develop new markets, to create jobs, to create a more sustainable environment. The concept of blue economy is interesting on that point. I will come to it later.

Nevertheless, technology is not necessarily the only answer to the protection of our environment. For instance, we are presenting electrical cars as an alternative to fuel cars, contributing to reduce the CO2 rejections. That is an attractive conclusion when you read the car characteristics in the brochure given by the car dealer. Now, looking more ready, the reality does not seem to be so …green.  The production of batteries is the main reason why electrical vehicles can generate more carbon emissions over their lifecycle. The batteries recycling process is also generating CO2 rejections.  Other question: how is the electricity generated? By gas plants, or by coal?  If we don’t consider the thing in its entirety, we can only miss the goal. Of course, it takes time to develop a new technology and to make it more efficient.  It is only by investing money in research and development that we can progress in technologies efficiency.  But before considering new alternatives, it would be interesting to focus on those that already exist. Instead to reduce the CO2 footprint by decreasing the number of fuel cars by replacing them by electrical cars, why don’t we develop more efficient public transport like tramways, trains etc. As already mentioned, you solve two problems: pollution and mobility. Of course, here is the responsibility of political authorities to implement coherent ecological politics based on serious studies and not on “green-washing” marketing.

Now let us come back to the concept of blue economy. Blue economy concept is based on the usage of renewable resources contributing to preserve the nature, and in some case to regenerate resources. Blue economy includes also jobs dimension and social capital. To summarize, blue economy is an economy having a neutral impact on environment and providing benefits for human being. This business model based on buy-use-repair or recycle, is totally disruptive with the actual business model based on buy-use-throw. How can we use our waste to produce new goods with minimum or zero impact on our environment.  It implies development of clean technologies development but also a locally based specific organization. For instance, export wastes to another country to recycle them is generating also carbon footprint, which is totally senseless.

The equation of climate change is not easy to solve and will be probably the most ambitious challenge the humanity has to face. That is what I tried to underline in this article. The task seems to be unrealistic to accomplish. But each process of change needs time and different steps to be reach. Resignation is probably the worst thing we can do. We have to act as responsible persons who have the power to change things. We have to look at ourselves in the mirror and consider that manifest for the climate and claim ecological values, is totally senseless if concrete actions does not follow on a daily basis. What is important is to act as responsible people and not as victims, in a way to develop a power of conviction to move to a more sustainable way of life. We need to make militant choices that change probably drastically our life, but as a lot of things, when we are used to act I a way, what is a constraint becomes an habit that we finally accept, especially if it is in line with the values we defend. We do not have the right to blame others for doing nothing if we do not do anything ourselves. We have to be actors of the change and inspire people around us, and not only to be preachers. To act for the protection of our environment according to our possibilities, is probably the most important personal and collective commitment we have to take, to try to build a sustainable future for our planet.

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Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

January 28, 2019 at 07:56

Utopia is a strength

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limitesWhat would be the world without utopia? It would be probably a world without dreams and hope.  A definition of utopia is the representation of an ideal society, the contrary of the reality. It can also refer to a reality that appears difficult to accept.  Utopia is considered as something irrational, so, unreachable and by consequence, each effort to reach it seems to be useless.

By such a definition, utopia has a negative connotation.  But considering utopia as a part of dreams, is a positive way to consider it and maybe to consider it as a strength. Let us remember this nice quote about utopia from Théodore Monod, saying that “Utopia does not mean the unrealizable, but the unrealized”. So, is utopia really something unreachable, unrealizable? Let us thing about few things to answer to that question.

Our utopias are a kind of dream guided by our own aspirations, by some values to which we adhere.  Most of the time, we have doubts to the realization of our utopias, maybe because we are referring to that perception of unreachable goal. But have we to see utopia as a final goal or as the path to move to another environment, to something new in accordance with our values and aspirations?  Utopia looks like unrealizable, but to try to get closer from our utopia can be an interesting walk for our personal life.

To reach our utopias induces an idea of movement. The most difficult part of the process is to start that movement, to start that inner walk by putting concrete actions in place. Sometimes, a phenomenon of procrastination appears to some of us, and is the sign of doubts, lack of motivation and self-confidence, seeing utopia as something irrational. Let us talk about an example. A lot of people wants to save the planet, and initiates concrete actions to contribute to that goal. For instance, you compost your household waste, in order to minimize the garbage bags you use and to decrease the ecological footprint of the elimination of household waste. Some people doubt and don’t start such action because they see such action as derisory on their individual level, compared to the overall effort that required to save the planet. But considering such action as derisory could be a way to hide your lack of ambition to face more ambitious challenges and your lack of commitment.

Commitment is probably the key element to shape your own utopias. Commitment to your values, commitment to the community, commitment to implement concrete daily actions in order to reach your goal, to live your own values. Without commitment to act, what is the meaning of values?
Commitment and actions are the conditions to start that walk to your utopias. The inner path along which you will put concrete actions making you discover new horizons and contributing to build communities sharing the same values, a path of learning along which you will shape your self-confidence and that will bring you closer to your values and ambitions, …closer to your utopias.

There are two different ways to see utopia. Or you see utopia as a barrier, a mental barrier, or you see it as a life motivation. We could say that utopia is not precisely a goal to reach but much more a state of mind. Not a goal we could name perfections, but a path leading to excellence, a path along which we discover a bit more ourselves, where we can reinvent ourselves. Don’t see utopia as a constraint, but as a motivation. Life is an utopia, utopia is a strength.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

January 14, 2019 at 08:42

Why volunteering is an opportunity.

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VolunteeringActing as volunteer implies some qualities to benefit from such experience. Each volunteer has his own reason to dedicate a bit of time to contribute to any social project. But sometimes, it appears that some volunteers are feeding only their own ambitions. I noticed this by some attitudes, or by some remarks they do. These findings make me think about the qualities people need to have in order to succeed in a volunteering experience and gaining a positive feedback, similar qualities needed in entrepreneurship.

– A question of value: You want to contribute to a better world, a better society. You strongly believe that to subscribe to values is not enough, but you have to act in accordance with your values, that are common values in the project. In other words, you are an actor, not a spectator.

– Contributing to a common goal: Contributing as volunteer will bring you some satisfaction which is probably one of your goal, but your personal goal cannot be reached to the detriment of the common goal. It implies that you have to store your ego in the closet, and acting in a way that each member of the team will gain satisfaction and value, will have the feeling to be a stakeholder of the project, a way that maximize the chances of success. You are working within a team spirit, working with and not against a team.

– Showing interest for other people: Volunteering is an opportunity to meet different people with different horizons of competences and experiences. By sharing each other knowledge and experience, you catch an opportunity to learn something, but you will get also another perception of the environment in which you are acting, you will adapt your strategy, and you will perceive more in depth the finality of your action. Such process can only succeed if you bring interest to other and not if you work only on your own.

– Curiosity and creativity: By living new experiences, you can discover in you hide and unexpected passions. It is up to you to be curious and to use your creativity to realize new things, to build innovative solutions. Moving your own limits and sharing what you do with other is an opportunity for each people to move his own limits too. Remember this quote saying that the only thing you increase by sharing it each other is knowledge.

– Commitment and leadership: Volunteering implies a commitment. The success of a project is linked to the commitment of all the stakeholders. It means that you are volunteering not to pass the time but to make succeed a project and to operate in this way. When you are filling your diary, consider volunteering as a priority, that it means to have an appointment not only with other, but also with yourself. Volunteering has to be a life project and you have to make it work.
In this common activities, consider each people for what he does and for what you can share each other. No question to consider your work as more interesting than the work of somebody else. As said previously the work of each team member will bring sense to your work. Each member work is useful and contribute to the success. Develop and show talents of leadership. Appreciate and recognize the work of others, listen to them, and you will maximize your chance to be appreciated and recognized too.

There are many other qualities we could quote, but time to time, I notice that some people are volunteers for “bad” reasons. How often some people told me that I am “doing this for free”. Yes, the purpose of volunteering is to contribute to a social and common project, not to be paid. And such remark sounds very strange from people criticizing the capitalistic system, and mentioning this as a motivation to cooperate in volunteering projects, but expecting money as reward for a service. Sometimes, in my experience, I had more satisfaction and learned more things by working as volunteer for specific projects than some days in my professional activities.
These people are often too those who attributes the collective success to themselves, and put the guilt of failures to the others. If looking for recognition is legitimate, you cannot gain it to the detriment of the other. It is a question of ego, and often, ego is inversely proportional with knowledge and capabilities.
That is why volunteering is an opportunity when you integrated these qualities. Increase your experience, discovering new interest and passions is probably the best thing you can do to maximize your chance of catching new opportunities, or to face and launch new challenges. It is an opportunity to expand the fields of the possible, to build new projects in other areas. We are not far from what Steve Jobs mentioned in his unforgettable speech at the Stanford university, when he talked about to connect the dots, meaning that you can innovate by making a link between things that seems nothing to do with each other. See your volunteering life and professional life like two things that can feed each other. Consider such experience for the long term effect you can get from it, and contributing to your personal goal, it means to build an interesting and passionate life.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

December 10, 2015 at 19:03

Act as an actor for your career and for the community.

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Actor of your own career and of the community

Recently, I read an article about the lack of doctors in Belgium. In Belgium there is a numerus closus in the universities for medicine studies. Only a limited number of graduated doctors can exercise the profession. This could explain the lack of doctors Belgium has to face. But Jacques de Toeuf, doctor and former president of ABSym (Association belge des syndicats médicaux) has not the same opinion about the problem. Based on statistics, he mentions that there are enough graduated doctors in Belgium compared to the number of beds in hospitals, but the problem is that some of then does not want to work in hospital, does not want to ensure permanencies during the week end, taking care more about quality of their own life instead of the quality of life of patients. And Jacques de Toeuf is wondering if these people, only visiting three of four patients per day, are still able after a couple of year to diagnose deceases, if they still have the competence to do their job correctly. As he mentions, medicine is not the same as to sale “tupperwares”. You do not do it when you want.

By reading this, there are two questions to be asked. What are the values we dedicate to work? Work is, most of the time, considered as a constraint. Some people are doing a job because “they have to work to earn money”, waiting the week end, the end of the month to receive the cheque, the holidays, the retirement, ..the death? In a previous posting, I already talk about the importance to choose the job you want to do, the job you are convinced by. If you are convinced by what you are doing, life will be much more exciting, and you will be able to give the best of what you can do. The motivation is an essential condition to stay on the top of competences. In a fast moving environment, you have to maintain and improve your skills everyday, it takes time, but this time has to be considered as an investment, a essential condition to ensure you a sustainable career. If you do not improve your skills, your knowledge, you will come shortly to incompetence, and the chance to find another job will be thin.This is why to do the job of your dream is so important, and is probably the only good reason to do it. As said Confusius: “Do the work you like to do and you will never have to work during your life”.

What I mentioned before is related to the private sphere. But there is another important question and value, needed to be considered, it is your function in the community. Each of us, through the job we are doing, we have a mission, we have to contribute to the community. If you are responsible for customer service in a company, you will take care that everybody could benefit of a good service. If you are a doctor, you will do what you can do in order to save your patients. We have to consider we are playing a role for the community, and this implies the notions of responsibility, respect and commitment. A doctor has the obligation to do all what he can do to save a life. If he has a conscience, he is aware about his duties, and will not try to escape to it. I am used to say that there are constraints in each job. You are free to choose the job you want to do, but remember that the only existing freedom is the one to choose your constraints.

Commitment to act for the community is a value having to be part of our professional choice. Commitment means to have respect for the others. This means that we have to play as an actor for the community, but we have to be first the actor of our own life, our own career. It is only if you try to build a project for yourself that you will contribute to build projects for the other, with efficiency and concrete results. By doing the job you like to do, your working hours are an investment and not a loss of time, and as each investment, you will have a return on it. If you are a doctor, and if you take care about your patients, then they will recognize your talents, and will probably recommend you to other people. Be an actor of your career, of your life and for the community.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

September 22, 2010 at 20:26