51 Billion To Zero

“There are two numbers you need to know about climate change. The first is 51 billion. The other is zero.”

So begins Bill Gates’ outstanding new book, “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster“.

Fifty-one billion tons of greenhouse gases generated by human activity are added to the atmosphere every year. This number is increasing.

Zero is what we need to achieve to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

There are some very impressive aspects to this book.

Firstly this is the best overview of the climate crisis faced by the planet I’ve read.

Bill articulates the causes and impacts, the science and the challenges very clearly. He’s applied his obvious intelligence and resources to explore the matter broadly, and as a communicator, shares what he’s learned very effectively.

This book is an holistic education for anyone wanting to get an up to date understanding of the climate crisis.

Usefully the book segments human activity and the various potential developments which are worth pursuing. It’s a non ideological survey of the current and emerging possible pathways to reach zero. I like the way Bill presents, with a pragmatic and open mind.

The five segments explored are:

The next most valuable aspect for me was a critical thinking framework of ‘five questions to ask in every climate conversation’ (Chapter 3).

My favourite was, “What’s your plan for cement?” The production of steel and cement creates about 10% of  all emissions, and the question is a reminder that any comprehensive plan needs to account for more than electricity and cars

Finally the most important aspect of the book for me, is that the author is Bill Gates himself, by any metric a World Class Leader.

With his voice and resources now publicly directed toward the climate crisis, our planet gains a powerful advocate.

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LF Reflection

MBY2My first Leadership Formation series ended almost one year ago.

Matt was one of the trio who wholeheartedly took on the challenge of the inaugural course. A few of his thoughts about the experience and the impact of the work follow…

Q. Why did you commit to and then complete the two year long course?

A. I had encountered some of the thinking in prior short workshops with Thorin and knew it would help me increase my self understanding.

Q. What was the most challenging aspect of Leadership Formation for you?

A. Finding time to complete the reading and thinking.

Q. What specific features of the course format did you most value?

A. The small group format is ideal for deeper and more meaningful conversations. Your peers get to know you and can provide rich personalised feedback from their different perspectives.

Q. What specific insights or tools from the course have you continued to use?

A. The overwhelming insight is the importance of understanding and leading yourself as a prerequisite for effectively leading others. The tool I use most after completing the coursework is the I Ching which helps trigger all sorts of new thoughts and angles on many topics.

Q. How would a colleague, friend or your partner describe the effect of the course on you?

A. Matt is more able to go with the flow and less inclined to analyse and solve all the time. Which means less stress!

Q. What advice would you give some seriously considering Leadership Formation?

A. Speak to Thorin and other graduates to see whether the style of learning is right for you.

Q. Reflecting on your experience, what five feelings come to you now?

A. Interest, curiosity, playfulness, relaxed, calm, contentment, ALIVE.

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Tiger Mother

Tiger Mother“A lot of people wonder how Chinese parents raise such stereotypically successful kids. They wonder what these parents do to produce so many maths and music prodigies, what it’s like inside the family, and whether they could do it to. Well I can tell them, because I’ve done it.” writes Amy Chua.

“Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” both bothered me and stirred my thinking. The mothers’ overbearing, domineering, abusive and demanding behaviour, beginning from a very early age with both her daughters, struck me as counter to every healthy developmental instinct I have. Yet, by all accounts in the book, both children became extremely successful academically and musically.

Chua writes “My Western friends who consider themselves strict make their children practice their instruments thirty minutes every day. An hour at most. For a Chinese mother, the first hour is the easy part. It’s hours two and three that get tough.”

During a recent corporate team development workshop, I introduced this book to the group. Simply reading the back cover to them was enough to stir interest, shock and controversy. In the context of the team exploring what it means to ‘be the best’, the Tiger Mother represents an extreme example of ambition and drive toward excellence at all cost.

Playing with that extreme, we asked the question ‘what would a Tiger Mother demand of the team’. The lens proved fun and useful, taking our thinking beyond comfortable and mundane goals. When later translated back to a more realistic and feasible stretch, there was still no doubt the exercise had been valuable.

A leader I once worked with liked to say “all progress comes from the unreasonable man”. His high standards and continual demand for more and better performance definitely propelled the business forward and drew the best out of some of his team. To me there was an obvious cost to him personally and to many in his team (high stress). Longer term, the sustainability of the enterprise and it’s performance, will be evidence of whether the Tiger Boss approach is effective.

One parting gift from the book was a conscious nudge to remember to press my kids for 30  minutes of music practice each day … Tabby Dad!

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