After long summer days, fall equinox is upon us. School is back in session. It’s the Jewish New Year. It’s the season of warm days and cool nights. Time to bring in the harvest, to process and preserve. It’s also when many conferences take place, along with leadership meetings, staff trainings, galas, and other events. For me, that means it’s speaking season, time to harvest and gather what I’ve learned, to adjust and pull together the best of what I can share with each different group.
The concept of Wild at Work invites us to bring all of who we are to all of what we do. And even as someone who has spent a career digging into what it means to put that into practice, I am aware of places in myself that go dark when I’m out in the world speaking.
How do I — how do we — reconcile this? How do we determine if something matters enough for us to take risks, to speak up, to show up more whole? Surely all of us have bumped up against this quandary. Is it worth it? Will it make a difference? Will I lose opportunities if I put myself out there?
For me, the time has come to reckon with the dissonance I feel regarding my values around sustainability and being a speaker, who often flies to events, partakes of the pre-packaged box lunches, and stays quiet as I witness the giveaways that no one really wants, the omnipresent plastic, and the waste that inherently comes with travel.
I’ve done my homework and continue to learn. There are far more sustainable ways to gather together. Actions we can take in every part of meetings, from food and beverages to exhibit halls; from communications to composting; from vendors to decorations. And from speakers who could be part of the solution.
I just can’t inwardly cringe and receive a single-use plastic nametag anymore, or keep turning down the endless plastic water bottles that I am offered—with the kindest and best of intentions. Not without trying to support some alternatives.
So, Sustainable Speaking was born. An optional initiative that offers many ways to reduce our impact at meetings and move toward carbon-neutral events. It’s on my website now, with resources and a program that gives part of my speaking fee back to use toward sustainable practices at events where I am speaking.
I hope it takes off. I hope everyone I work with gets excited about minimizing our impact and partnering together to make real change. And, I know that meeting planners are beyond exhausted. And the idea of taking on one more thing could feel like just too much. We shall see how this unfolds. This journey has helped me as a speaker. It’s helped me as a human who is deeply concerned about our planet.
I share this with all of you, most of whom are not speakers or meeting planners, because all of us encounter this feeling of discord, of not being aligned. So here it is, a challenge, a Wild dare for us all…
Look. Let yourself feel those areas that are just a little (or a lot) off. Explore it. Learn what it is, really, that troubles you. Pay attention to when you feel pressure pushing against your values. Gather your pack, those people who know and love you for who you are. Talk it through, brainstorm, cry and laugh. And get to work. Whatever your particular work is that calls you to speak up, to make change, and to live your Wild Truth.
Wherever I speak, no matter the audience, I find myself repeating these words many times: Wild isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. Wild invites discomfort, but knows you are able for it.
So thank you, kind readers, for hearing my story. I would love to hear those places in your own life where you have decided to step into your full Wild Glory. Imagine the tapestry of stories that exist and that are emerging, weaving together hope and collective action that make profound differences in our world.
For our Wild Journeys…