Queen Maxima. She walked up on the stage in a flashy red suit, big smile. 'Goedemorgen!' and 'good morning!' to you all. She did her talk on inclusive financing, in her own radiant way. In New York for two days, having 14 bilaterals of 20 minutes ('really nice to be able to focus efficiently', she said), two dinners, a few keynotes and a few meetings. It was the goalkeepers meeting that Bill and Melinda Gates had organised during the global goals week, a week ago. Goalkeeper, special advocate, motivator, inclusive, is how Maxima is being described. Inspirer, mom, beautiful clever female leader I'd like to add ;-).
In the same week I organised the Amsterdam People's Hub. It was an experiment. As I love the power of the 'common people', the idea of a worldwide platform interacting around the 17 global goals was really appealing to me. I envisioned sharing best practices, learning from role models, co-creating and more by means of the innovative example the Global People Summit would set. The first surprise came when I learned I was the only People's Hub in the Netherlands...'Really!?', I thought, 'we are such a liberal, pioneering country, there must be more?'. In Europe there were only 2 hubs: Amsterdam and Greece. Then only 2 people joined mine... a bit disappointing. And then it became that friday itself: I lit the fire with the intention of creating a sacred, inspiring place to be part of the even so inspiring platform that would start around midday. Even if I would be on my own, I would hold that intention, I promised myself.
I watched for about 2 hours and then it happened.... Yes, there were a few interesting interviews: mainly those with common people taking action, being interviewed by vloggers, you tubers, trendy people from this era. The form was not very innovative though: little video, interview, video, interview and all this in a studio with the global goals on the background. Ok, form isn't everything. Then he walked on the stage: the 'Head of Global Engagement' of the global goals organisation. Wow, what an important job he has! Wow, for such an important job he doesn't have a lot of presence, but hey...can't blame the guy for that. And then he started talking...one of the first sentences did it for me: most companies use the goals to show what they are already doing for the world, as kind of proof and measurement. Excuse me!? So we're fine?? This is exactly the opposite message of calling everybody to action, no matter how small that action is! This is about staying stuck in our institutionalised performance paradigm and getting away with windowdressing! The activist in me was alive and I can't imagine that he did that on purpose... I closed my laptop and continued the nice, exploring and honest conversation we were having so far about life, purpose and how to be of service to the world.
What kept coming into my mind in the days thereafter are the famous words of Einstein (I think it was him): "What brought us here won't take us there". In other words: we cannot solve issues at the same level of consciousness and in the same way they were created. So perhaps it really is the right time for 'the common people' to take action, within our own little or big circle of influence. Those queens (yes, there were more of them and yes, in this context I also consider them as common people ;-)) were rolemodeling action in a very beautiful way. We can all be goalkeepers, we don't need the institution of the UN to take leadership as a human being and act. Oh, imagine if we could make the UN and other institutions act a bit more humble and have a real good look at the soooo many inspiring, successful initiatives and movements there are in the world! Imagine we could turn the pyramid upside down and learn, collaborate and accelerate from all the bottom-up action from the common people!
Next friday the Rotterdam School of Management (part of Erasmus university) is organising their yearly leadership summit. Topic this year: Business, a force for positive change. Maybe it is time for me to act more humble and spark the call for action among these hundreds of common people instead of judging this one poor guy at the UN, who probably works with the best intentions. Not maybe ;-).
So I will try to be a spark next friday, just like those queens were last week: planting seeds, motivate, challenge and inspire. And make sure I focus on my own circle of influence and explaining that little voice inside of me, that wants to cover the whole world, that focussing on your own circle, is what the world needs.