Do you remember teaching someone to ride a bike without the restrictive safeguard of stabilisers? I did this with each of my four children, and in the process, managed to learn some fundamental principles of sustainability. For me, there’s a similarity between the way we speak about net zero in construction and the way we help our children figure out how to ride a bike.
Fear and frustration inhibit excitement and progress
After an hour of wobbly practice, my child lay on the grass under her bike, with eyes full of tears. She wasn’t hurt but frustrated at her inability to master riding without stabilisers. She burst out ‘I should know how to do this already! We have been here for ages!’
I was intrigued. ‘You should know how to ride by now?’ I asked. I could see that she was sincerely trying, putting in so much effort that the fun and excitement of riding had become lost in the struggle.
‘Yes’, she said. ‘My friend is really good at riding, and she said it only took her ten minutes to learn to ride her bike!’
Now contrast that occasion with a few years later, on the same spot of grass, when another of my children lay on the grass under her bike. She looked at me with excitement in her eyes, and said ‘When do you think I will be able to ride on the cycle path with you?’
‘Ride with me?’ I said, pleased.
‘Yes’, she said. ‘We could go on an adventure!’
Adventures in sustainability
I’m pleased to say that I’ve gone on adventures with both of those children on our bikes, on grass, dirt and cycle track. But I wonder, when it comes to your CO2 emissions or climate impact, whether you identify with either of their experiences?
Maybe you’d rather use the stabilising effects of the government so that you can ‘stay upright’. Maybe you’re concerned about how you appear to other people, who already seem so far ahead of you that they’re out of your reach.
Or maybe our view of the future is full of excitement for the progress we’ll make and the advances we’ll enjoy, once we’ve put the work in. When the learning process is fun instead of fear-driven, then we’ll be willing to give more and appreciate what we have.
It’s all about the mindset
Some may say, ‘But time is short: we need to get this sorted now!’ And of course it is; when it comes to climate change, time is always short. But our mindset makes a powerful difference to our perception of progress.
So wherever you are on your journey to net-zero and sustainability in construction, please don’t lie on the proverbial grass with frustration and angst. Get back up, and let’s go on an adventure! We can’t get there with the rigidity of old processes or viewpoints. Holding onto ‘I should know this’ or ‘I should do this’ makes our fear and self-criticism inhibit our progress.
One day we will get there, and it’s ok that we’re not quite there now. Let’s decide today to take off our restrictive stabilisers so that the real adventure can begin.
About the author
Darren Evans - Business leader connecting with people to treat people and planet as the precious resources they are so that we can build a better future together https://darren-evans.co.uk/