Can We Be Saved?

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold

WB Yeats, The Second Coming
Somewhere out there

For some it feels as if things are breaking apart or about to do so? The 2020s have shades of the 1920s, but on top of political turmoil, nationalism, economic crises and stock market enthusiasms we have other monsters at the gates too. Can we be saved which in reality means can we find the wherewithal to save ourselves? I am an optimist enough to believe we can but a realist who can see the headwinds.

So what do we do when we are unsure if the world is breaking apart?

We accept the world is always in transition. Grieve the losses. We foster what works better now.

The Headwinds of Change

Economy: once a net, now a handful of holes.
Economy: what a man moves with
when, even in sleep, he is trying to save
all there is left to save.

Sandra Beasley, Economy

There’s a daunting list of the headwinds of change to address the monsters at the gates. Some of these headwinds like information bubbles & misinformation, income inequality and the breakdown of social connection are getting worse. Sectors of society can’t even agree on the utility of wearing a mask, let alone tackling climate change.

However, we must remember that news thrives on bad news. If noting else, humans are adaptable and long term fundamentals, like global lifespans, reduction in global poverty and so on, remain on an upward trend. The challenge is to sustain this into the next generations and give them more time to adapt. The headwinds are why we need to set to work now.

Adaptation

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.

Attributed to Charles Darwin. It is unlikely he said this or would endorse it.

If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.

Jack Welch. Definitely said it but look at GE since his tenure.

The above quotes are extraordinarily common in corporate thought leadership. They suggest that adaptation is the challenge. All an organisation needs to manage is its speed of response and it will survive and likely even prosper. So much work and effort has been invested in speeding up the hamster wheel as a result. That speed, complexity and the disconnections in our system are increasingly issues for organisations. Faster change can also be a faster path to the end, just ask all those clever ideas that rapidly scaled themselves beyond their capital trying to win a planned future raise.

Quoting Darwin brings the illusion of science and particularly evolution, but that quote ignores how evolutionary selection works. In evolutionary selection, everyone dies. It’s just that some mutations in the creation of the next generation enable some of future generations to continue with advantages. Nobody chooses to adapt. Nobody changes themselves. Nature supplies the change and the harsh and deadly selection process. As I have previously pointed out on the latter quote, it is no longer possible to outpace a connected global market.

Adaptation can be important at an individual level and some longlived organisations have undergone long and slow change to survive for generations and even centuries. However, many of our organisations are too big and too wedded to their current practices to adapt. Critically, many will not abandon or destroy their current model of success to do so. They lack the context to understand competition that threatens their overplaying of a past success, reliance on a fundamental process or overdependence on a core historical metric. Many individuals struggle with change for the same lack of perception asking “how can I need to change? I am doing it the way that always worked before”.

Foster What Works Now

There’s nothing to save, now all is lost,
but a tiny core of stillness in the heart
like the eye of a violet

DH Lawrence, Nothing to Save

We all die in the end so what should we do? Grieve for the losses. Foster what works better now.

There is so much that needs to be done it can be overwhelming. However, big solutions aren’t always the answer. We are tempted always to go for Moonshots (or Marshots). Our focus on scale, growth and speed suggests to us that there must be one magical answer that addresses everything. Life is more complicated than that. More importantly, the path forward is unclear enough that it’s not yet time to be boarding the rocket to Mars with any certainty.

Gall’s Law proposes that all complex systems evolved from small systems that work. It comes with the helpful proviso that not all small systems work. We won’t find one action that fixes everything. What we can do is start small, do what works and build forward from there.

If our organisations cannot adapt through these small changes, then at least the work on these transformations will enable us to discover others who think the same and develop an ability to build new organisations to leverage the learning. The Berkana Two Loops Model of Change is a powerful framework for how to consider this kind of large scale change in systems. This model reflects the likely scenario that a new system will grow from something small and replace the current system, instead of adapting the current system to the change.

Things feel uncertain, liminal and transitional at present. What we struggle to see is that the feeling is a good thing. Our world is never settled and secure. It is always changing. We are in a phase where that change is very visible and very needed. We should embrace the uncertainty and focus on the small steps we can each make to bring about a change for the better. Collectively those efforts will discover new paths.

…”What is strength for,
that has endured much, but to endure more?”

Marion Strobel, Growth

All the Feels

All the Feels

Repeat after me: These are not normal times. Be prepared to offer more emotional support to friends, family and colleagues. Consider the emotional context of your work and changes and allow others to share their responses or risk surprises and disappointment.

Not Your Usual

As the Australian summer ends and the work year begins again, I’ve heard a lot of stories that sadly don’t surprise. Many people have had emotionally charged experiences with relatives and friends through Christmas, New Year and the summer. Relationships have been highly emotional even with Australia’s relatively benign conditions for the pandemic, perhaps even because there are relatively benign conditions.

Christmas is an emotionally charged time in families in the best years. Many experience add pressure because it is a time of taking stock, work pressures and financial stress. This year the experience has been supercharged by separation, deferred celebrations and the residual emotional issues of loss, isolation and strained relationships. It’s little surprise that emotions can boil over.

Many others have expressed to me the sense that it is difficult getting back to the normal level of activity and energy. People have lost outlets for leisure and relaxation. Some feel guilt that things have gone well while others struggled. Work is a now major part of family and the home. With major changes in the way we work and its pressures, people are reflecting again on work, its rewards and its challenges. For some there are significant changes to be made that bring stress and risk.

A global pandemic has ways of messing with our life, our work, our hopes and dreams. During that experience, we are focused on just living day to day and getting through it alone and ideally together. For some crisis breeds solidarity and for others a suppression of our emotional options as we focus on survival.

As we move on beyond the crisis phase of the pandemic to live with as an ongoing part of our lives, then new and complex emotions arise. All the moods come all at once.

A Time For EQ

In business we tend to discuss emotional intelligence as an abstract and occasionally useful skill that we use in between or around work. In this time of heightened emotion, emotional intelligence is a core skill in all relationships. Emotional intelligence isn’t a training course. It needs to be a part of every work and social interaction. This is not a time to delegate EQ to HR or the team ‘people person’.

Begin meeting with a check-in for all participants. It is a simple step to give teams a chance to share how they are feeling. It also helps teams identify those who might need more conversations and support especially in remote work scenarios.

This is a time to ask ‘Are you OK?’ and wait to listen actively to the answer. The story may not come out at first but if we take time to understand and invest in our relationships then there will be rewards in the depth of engagement and reduced risks.

Whether coaching, mentoring or management, now is the time for one-on-one discussions with team members. Invest the extra time for regular conversations with your team, your colleagues and other important relationships. Make sure you understand what is going on for these relationships in their important relationships. Family and relationship stress is contagious.

Difficult emotions when unaddressed rarely improve on their own. Annoyance can become resentment and explode into anger. Frustration can grow or subside into lack of engagement and even depression. Even an excess of enthusiasm and a cheery disposition can be a part of a coping mechanism to mask deeper challenges. Earlier conversations are likely to be easier than later ones. Earlier help can be transformational for people struggling with the complexity of emotions at this time. Modern organisations have a lot of support for employees mental and emotional health but too often it goes unused because people don’t feel able to take it up.

All our work and social relationships are with humans. Those carefully chosen people come with talents and potential but they also bring a rich, diverse and complex emotional history. Those emotions may well be at the fore at this time. Ignoring the richness and diversity will cost you in individual and team performance and it will mean you likely fail to realise the potential of people you have carefully chosen in your work and life. If ever there was a time to engage with the moods of your unique collection of humans, it is now.

Walls

The barbarians get through eventually anyway

Be careful where you build walls. They can take on a life of their own defining work, belonging and othering in complex ways. Encouraging teams and organisations to live with permeable and adaptable boundaries gives them a better chance to deliver value and realise their strategy than hard walls.

The Other Side

Humans are tribal. Walls shape the perception of the edge of our tribe, determining things like who belongs, what we believe and who we trust. A wall is a dramatic manifestation of the difference between the in-group who belong and the out-group who don’t.

Put a wall in the wrong place and it can have severe consequences. We are familiar with the battles between silos in our organisations. Those silo walls determine the limits of where power runs, information & resources are shared and who is trusted. Whether marked with glass, plasterboard or invisible lines, those boundaries are fiercely defended. Much of the dysfunction of our organisations occurs when these silo walls rise up between teams or become tall enough to be seen from outside. I suspect some organisations silo walls can be seen from the Moon.

More dangerously, I’ve seen companies that put their customers or suppliers or community on the other side of a wall as untrusted enemies and then wondered why their business struggles and employees make poor decisions. Far too many organisation install a glass wall, a door or a whole separate floor around the senior executives. The world inside those walls soon became its own bubble distinct from the rest of the organisation, customers or anyone else outside. Safety inside a wall can be very dangerous when you no longer understand the world beyond the wall.

From Walls to Permeable Boundaries

Tribalism attaches to even the flimsiest walls. Walls exist to separate and prevent exchange and interaction. Information flow falls, collaboration drops, conflict increases at these hard boundaries of power, resources or information. Before long people who need to work together and interact will see only the Other. Instead of walls we need permeable and adaptable boundaries that shifts with the demands of customers, the work and the changing circumstances.

As our organisations inevitably become more diverse and reflective of a connected global planet, we need to remember that diversity can lie in tension with trust. Difference can be creative but it can also undermine trust and collaboration. New walls can spring up in the organisation around the smallest barriers and differences. The answer is not to be less diverse. Misguided notions of ‘cultural fit’ are a path to failure. The key is to remember that diversity is inevitable and building relationships across an organisation needs to be a full time task.

Restructures are time consuming and destructive of trust and value. Avoiding the commitment to silo walls that will inevitably end up in the wrong place and need to be pulled down is a great saver of time and money. More importantly, encouraging your employees to see boundaries as adaptable where required ensures that internal barriers never get in the way of customers and that the external barriers of the organisation won’t become stultifying or impermeable too.

The simplest way to make your organisational boundaries more permeable is to engage your teams in a shared sense of effort. Building an enterprise-wide sense of community is a key underpinning capability and creates a framework for ongoing adaptation. Alignment to the organisational purpose and strategy provides a context for trust and understanding and a counterweight to unique teams. That same strategy helps define the relationships that matter beyond the organisation as well through suppliers, customers and community.

Relationships built across and through the organisation punch holes in the walls that do exist and enable people to develop the agency to make adaptation happen. Increasing alignment, transparency and purposeful agency drives exponential rewards in organisations far beyond the removal of waste, duplication and dysfunction.

Collaboration is a Relationship

One of the consequences of our machine metaphor of work is a transactional view of tasks. We see work as moving inputs to outputs moment by moment through our actions. The human engagement in our actions can be lost in the business. A transactional view of collaboration is one that will have limited success. Collaboration exists in relationships and fostering those relationships in groups and communities is key to ongoing value creation

Bringing Relationships to the Fore

Imagine a total stranger from your organisation approaches you at work and says ‘let’s collaborate’. Your immediate reactions are predictable:

  • Connect: Who are you? For what purpose would we collaborate? Why should I bother?
  • Share: Tell me more. I need some context.
  • Solve: How can I help? What do we need to achieve together?
  • Innovate: What do you need to do differently? What capabilities are missing?
Developing a relationship through work

Expecting someone to collaborate without addressing at least a minimum answer to these issues is relying on their inherent human generosity. Not everyone at work begins an interaction with a stranger as a good samaritan with time, capability and resources to spare. Our transactional focus at work often pushes the exact opposite mindset of husbanding our information, resources and capabilities for our own work.

A stranger demanding you collaborate transactionally is not an opportunity. It is a threat. That threat is not solved by simply designating people a group, a project or a team. Before we can bring about effective and valuable collaboration we need to start fostering the kind of relationships that engender connection and community.

Relationships Means Time

Relationships are reciprocal. A one-way relationship is no relationship at all. All the parties that need to come together in collaboration need to have the time and effort put into establishing the necessarily level of relationships. This effort is one reason why collaboration activities are rarely overnight big bank launches. The community that is expected to collaborate needs to spend time together connecting, sharing and solving problems towards the greater goal.

No matter how safe you assure people collaboration will be they want to see it in action. No matter how much value you promise people from sharing information they want to experience the value themselves first. No matter how big the benefit of collaborating on problems, people want to see the successes and the benefits before they commit their time and effort to strangers or even their immediate colleagues.

The Collaboration Maturity Model above is underpinned by its focus on these human relationship dynamics of alignment, trust, capability, agency and reciprocity. The steps of the model describe only the phases. The detailed work in each phase is how we realise new levels alignment, trust, agency and reciprocity.

Because we can’t turn on collaboration when we need it, the work of leaders is to be continuously building the relationships and capability across the organisation. The use case and benefits of collaboration exist in your organisation today. What is lacking is the relationships that bring that capability to bear on your organisations strategic problems and enable your employees to contribute directly to the success of your organisation. Building enduring collaborative communities in your organisation gives you ways to leverage this talent to achieve your strategic goals.

Headwinds

Such a headwind!
Sometimes it requires
all my strength
just to end a line.

But when the wind is at
my back, we’re likely
to get carried away, and say
something we can never retract,

Connie Wanek, Umbrella

Finding a photograph to represent wind is a challenge. There are plenty of photographs of storm clouds. You can have the mime act of a person walking into the wind. There are lots of photos of things that use the wind: gliders, yachts and balloons. The challenge is tough because the wind is invisible until it bends you out of shape with its long years of assault.

Headwinds is one of those corporate terms that has a vague explanatory value hinting, but not defining, forces impeding progress towards a goal. Like many such terms, its value is as an excuse without specificity. Why aren’t things going well? Headwinds. Whether those winds are expected or unexpected is unaddressed. Use of the term ignores that headwinds can be of value; pilots deliberately land into headwinds to increase lift and control of the plane. Headwinds challenge is to be better, more adaptable and more flexible in the achievement of our goals.

Much of the time, we are like a tree bent by the prevailing winds. Our life and training either teaches us to bend or brace against headwinds. Some winds are stronger due to prejudice, lack of privilege or other disadvantage but there is always some form of headwind, light breeze or howling gale. In our current predicament, much of the opposition feels like a gale. We all enjoy the rare moments of relief from pushing against the force of invisible opposition. The test is not how well we rail against the wind but that we find ways to brace ourselves against its worst blowing and slip our way forward, if only on hands and knees.

Tailwinds are rare. When they exist, we need to be ready to take maximum advantage of the momentum they offer. Preparing ourselves for these rare opportunities is a life’s work. The sooner we escaping our headwinds brace to take the opportunity of a tailwind the more we achieve. Some never do. Take care that your stiff brace and determination to fight headwinds does not become a barrier to opportunity.

Invisible headwinds will always oppose our progress. The world may bend to wind but it doesn’t bend to our will. We can always find a way to edge forward, flex and adapt.

Wind sings in its whirling,
water murmurs going by,
unmoving stone keeps still.
Wind, water, stone.

Each is another and no other:
crossing and vanishing
through their empty names:
water, stone, wind.

Octavio Paz, Wind Water Stone

Anti-Ikigai

The Ikigai Venn diagram is widely shared. The diagram challenges us to look to the intersection of what we are good at, what the world needs, what we can be paid to do and what we love. Obviously the right answer is in the middle of the pretty flower of overlapping circles. The diagram reduces a great deal of life’s complexity to an elegant picture.

The familiar Ikigai

Any Venn diagram is a selection from all the possible sets and their possible overlaps. Some of those sets like what the world needs and what we love can be hard to map and understand. Presuming we know these is like reading a novel backwards. After all, we expose all of these sets of choices by working and our life experience. It would be much easier if these things were laid out for our careful selection.

A Venn diagram encourages to think about what point we want to be at. However a life or career is a path. Options arise in each moment. We rarely choose one destination. We choose the next step. We can also realise new potential that changes the shape of all the sets. The diagram is pretty but nothing is so simple or fixed about a life.

Reflecting on that diagram this morning, I also saw something I had not considered before. The dark side of Ikigai is just adjacent. Here’s the Anti-Ikigai.

The Anti-Ikigai

If you compare this to the original you will see the top right two sets are the same. Both what you are good at and what you can be paid for are in both and their overlap is a profession. The Anti-Ikigai is just adjacent to the Ikigai. No wonder it is so easy to get lost.

The new diagram introduces two new sets omitted from the first but ever so common in discussion of life and careers. These sets are what brings power and what you can bear. Many will tell you these are critical parts of success in a life or career. We are often told to grin and bear it for a promotion, bonus or other financial reward or new power.

Introducing two new sets bring three new intersections:

  • At the intersection of power and our talents is ambition
  • At the intersection of payment and tolerance is desperation
  • At the intersection of power and tolerance is corruption

All of a sudden it’s not so clear that we want to be at the heart of the pretty flower. Sadly, that’s where many aim to be and feel there is no other choice. This map is directly adjacent to the other as we make choices and discover we can easily wander across into this landscape. With power, aptitude and rewards pushing us forward it can be hard to recognise we are astray. Even more when society reinforces that this is our map.

The sets you see and the parts of those sets you can reveal shape choices both good and bad. Life is a quest to learn, discover and realise potential. There are no easy answers, no matter how pretty the flower. We need to remember that the obstacles are the work. Addressing the challenges before us will help reveal all our options.

A year in rear view

At this time of year, I commonly write a review of the lessons of the year and an outline for work ahead. This year we will pass on the prospective view as the chaos continues apace. However there is value to reflect on what we learned in 2020.

The Work Works

After years of arguing over flexibility and digital work tools, we embraced them when we needed them. We embraced them fast. Everyone is now a working from home expert, ring light included. Compelling work- & strategy-based rationales for change in work processes matter. The best rationale is a need to get the work done or to do it demonstrably better. No matter how or where we work we still need to Connect>Share>Solve>Learn, Adapt & Innovate.

We will be working in new ways for a long while to come. The next phase of making work work will be the gradual adaption of work processes, rituals and routines to the new Covid-normal. Organisations will need to let creativity flourish to complete the adaptation. At the same time, we will need to be inventive to tackle the challenges of fatigue, lack of connection, lack of context, exceptions and broken flow.

To make work work, leaders will need to lead, the verb not the noun. In a remote world, passive leadership is nothing and purely rational leadership is useless. Leaders who want their teams to succeed will need to support their teams across the breadth of their lives, emotions and collaborations. We need to allow people to take their whole self from work (especially at home). Fostering connection and effective digital leadership in each member of the team and collaboration in their internal and external relationships is the new challenge. We will need to leverage their extraordinary talents.The world is too complex for simplicity, certainty and set and forget.

Digital Always

We’ve gone from digital to digital first to digital always. We’ve held on by the skin of our teeth to make the work work in 2020, but in 2021 we are going to find the pace of change accelerates. Born Digital processes and solutions survived the shocks and bumps of 2020 better because there wasn’t an analogue component to be locked out, broken down, distanced or isolated.

Digital always is planning for more than just a narrow single digital path or process. It’s ensuring that all the workflow, every exception and every communication can be captured digitally. That means recognising that people differ and preferences vary. Digital always supports all the necessary paths.

As we transform our work to work as digital always, we will also make smarter decisions on when face-to-face mattters. We will treasure our moments of presence and human connection more as we did in 2020. We can work more to avoid routine and still find joy in the little human moments. We will learn to better value these moments and the people who work to bring them to life.

All The Feels

If you’ve followed the roller coaster of this blog this year, it’s been far less about the future of work. Much of the year has been a process of processing experiences and emotion out loud. Much of it feelings of loss. I never expected that the most popular post on this blog by some margin would be one that captured a zeitgeist of fatigue.

The feels aren’t going away. They are here to stay. They are a key part of our human potential. While it won’t be easy, we will be better not to pretend that everything is rational, safe and OK when it’s actually confusing, scary and unsettling. We need to give ourselves some latitude to tend to ourselves and our lives. We can also bring some understanding, love and compassion to others as they struggle to do the same.

Human Works

In a year when our health was threatened and extraordinary humans went to work to protect and save us it became so clear that being human works, or at least it can when we rise about the petty and the individual to focus on the power of community and human agency at work. Our messy unrealised human potential is more critical than ever to our futures. No magical blockchain, AI, digital process or algorithm is coming to save us or kill us. They serve our humanity.

I promised I wouldn’t make predictions, but I have. There are difficult days ahead. There always are. However, we have reserves of potential individually and together that will help us to adapt. I want to thank everyone for being such a support this year as I and we struggled through. We have a lot to learn and even more work to do. However we will do it together, even if apart for now.

Wishing you and yours a happy holiday season and much rest, relaxation and celebration. May your future be closer than it appears.

Good Behaviour

If I get good behaviour, I will be out of here by July

Paul Kelly, How to Make Gravy

It’s Gravy Day in Australia, 21 December, a name inspired by Paul Kelly’s song about one disrupted Christmas. With outbreaks & new lockdowns, new strains of the coronavirus, concerns people won’t choose to be vaccinated and more, the quote above feels very apt. We are dependant on good behaviour, but community mindsets seem threatened around us.

Public health responses are community responses. Communities come together to pursue a shared purpose of better health for all. These responses depend on individuals to take actions that might involve minor costs and inconvenience for wider good. These are the actions of socially beneficial good behaviour: wearing masks, keeping distance, isolating when exposed and vaccinating when possible. 2020 has thrown into stark relief the individualistic responses that have held back the effectiveness of these responses. We are still waiting for good behaviour from some.

At a time when our organisations have been atomised by remote work, the collaborative, collective and community will be a challenge in 2021. We can manage the individual but the good behaviour and engagement of the work community will be the challenge we face as long as the disruption of the pandemic continues. Work doesn’t happen in isolated units. Work happens when individuals, groups, teams and communities come together with the right behaviours to advance the collective and shared goals. Aligning, coordinating, sharing context and resources, solving problems are all going to be the work we need to do and the underpinning organisational culture of values and behaviours will be essential to success.

Focusing on good behaviour reminds us that rights bring responsibilities that reflect the needs and norms of the wider community. Freedom of speech is the freedom to speak, not necessarily the freedom from responsibility for one’s words. Freedom of association involves the group taking account of the health and safety of those with whom they gather. The freedom to make individual choices involves responsibility to take account of the implications of those actions for others and the wider community. We have seen recently that the freedom to vote depends on responsibilities that reside in the norms and practices of a democracy. The way we work depends on norms and practices in our organisations which are more dependant on good behaviour of the community than rules, policy and enforcement.

Much of what we do each day depends on more on community norms and good behaviour of others than the forces of hierarchy law and power. When bad behaviour is rampant, the forces of power are surprisingly ineffectual and often easily coopted. In the end, the wider community must often do the work of reigning in the excesses. In the end, the good behaviour of civil society benefits us all, even if it makes for incovenience at times.

So this Gravy Day, I am wishing we all get ‘good behaviour’ in our organisations and wider communities. See you in July.

Refuge

We lost our refuge.

A year of bushfires, lockdowns and disruptions has shattered our ability to find refuge.

First the holiday resorts that are our summer escape caught fire causing Australians to flee back to cities choked by smoke. Then in lockdown our homes became our workplaces, logistic hubs, technology data centres, webinar broadcast operations, schools, boardrooms, and crisis centres every hour of every day. The usual distractions of social media and entertainment became a scene of new anxieties.

A year of exploring the power of boundaries became the struggle to find any. People tried digital detox, deleting apps, gardening, home renovation and other efforts to create new places of isolation, safety and reflection. I found some refuge in my poetry collection and it seems others did too. Poets have prepared deep reservoirs of human emotion and human experience within which we can take comfort, find understanding and begin to process the changing world.

However each of us can find refuge we need to discover that place. Life depends on light and shade. Always on is indistinguishable from always off. Refuge is where we recharge, recover, reflect and renew. Refuge is where we plan and prepare. Refuge is where we wait in difficulties to come forth and support others with change, care and compassion.

As we head into a different kind of holiday season, may you find some refuge from the stresses and the strains. A new year awaits.

Silence, Love and Guilt

Yesterday I saw a tweet from a campaigner on a social issue that said ‘Silence is complicity’. I recognised the passionate sentiment. I felt the fierce anger that not everyone has joined in on your personal quest to change the world. I know the despair that others don’t have the urgency that you have and the frustration that much of what passes for inaction in our world is at least apathy, if not complicity.

However, I would hope a social campaigner had a little more love and compassion about the challenges of speaking up. These are not ideal times. For many watching, your passionate quest is beyond their personal capacity which is devoted almost entirely to survival. Is someone’s focus on their own needs first complicity? Yes, there may never be ideal times to tackle Monsters at the Gates, but each person must choose their own cause and actions. Purpose, engagement and sacrifice cannot be imposed. They demand agency.

We need too a recognition that if the obligation lies on everyone to speak up about everything all the time we lose the effectiveness of voice. Too many voices too often is not persuasion, it is chatter. I can add my voice, but will it drown out one more important and less well heard? Our partisan and angry world is an outcome of lots of voice and the ability for people to choose their own bubbles. The other importance of love and compassion in those advocating for change is to recognise that we achieve far more with engendering connection, engagement and enthusiasm than by fostering othering and guilt.

So much has passed this year that calls for change, that guilt is an easier response, especially for those with the love and compassion to notice. As my life returns slowly to a Covid normal, I look at the wider world and have all kinds of feelings of guilt. People are suffering unnecessarily. Can we do more? Yes. Should we do more now? Now that is a question that varies with time and circumstances. We should have the compassion to accept in ourselves and others that people will make the choices which make their best contributions to the world.

Nobody improved the world with guilt. For now, I will remain silent on that issue as with so many others. I will bide my time to make a mark. If that makes me complicit in a long list of evils, then that is how it must be. I will still hold out hope for change, love for others and keep a little compassion for myself.