Do Better: Part I

It is my observation that we expend a lot of energy and mindshare looking around us and calling out systemic incompetence and individual faults. We take a stand on an issue, and our stance is too often built on a platform of our disagreement with the other side of the issue.  Similarly, we often speak about how a corporation, or the government, or the amorphous “they” are to blame for a problem or are doing something to me.

It is also my observation that when we do this we miss out on a great opportunity. In the midst of any issue or problem, regardless which way you may lean, there is a personal opportunity to Do Better.

Before I go on, let me say that I absolutely support the right to call out systemic incompetence, and we should hold one another accountable. But do not fail to first look in the mirror and take on the personal responsibility you have to yourself, your family, and to society in general. If each of us takes care of this personal business, many of the things with which we are concerned will be resolved.

A case in point. This story is told from the best of my recollection of events, which occurred many years ago. The CEO (at the time) of Eaton Corporation, the company I spent 30 years of my life working in, took the opportunity at a Leadership Conference to outline some bold initiatives the company was undertaking around being “green”. Eliminating waste, emissions, renewable energy usage, zero landfill targets, and the like. In the coming weeks, there were more than a few that expended energy and mindshare discussing whether climate change was a real issue. They had taken a stand on this issue, and it was built on a platform of disagreement with those that thought climate change was occurring. What they missed was the point that whether climate change is happening or not, our responsibility to take care of our planet remains.

This point was made well in the CEO’s response, which went something like “I have heard you. If climate change is occurring, or if it is not, we still have the responsibility to ask ourselves the question, “Can we do better?”

Yes, of course, we can do better. I can do better. You can do better. And that fact deserves the bulk of our expenditure of energy and mindshare. The issue of climate change is just one example, and I will explore others in the coming weeks.

Stewardship of the planet we have been gifted was a personal responsibility from the beginning. Genesis 2:15 records, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” Since then, as man has been fruitful and multiplied, we each carry on that responsibility to keep the earth, for our generation and for future generations.

Do not waste time decrying the way someone else is keeping the earth, all the while pillaging it in your own way. We may not agree on each other’s methods of working and keeping the garden, but even so our energy is best spent doing our personal best, and this involves doing better each day.

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