What happened when I started to think of my experiences as an ecosystem?

An artists representation of a human network
Image courtesy of Alina Grubnyak, Unsplash

This is my first Medium article and I intend to use it to stake out who I am, and the field that I operate in. I also hope that by sharing my story I can continue to grow and meet others who are also embracing the ecosystemic perspective. Or maybe you haven’t yet thought of how you embrace your ecosystem and will feel inspired to chat?

I am pursuing a career as someone who advocates for thinking in systems and for individuals and organisations alike to embrace the complexity of the world, acknowledging that their own position and values are unique to them as a result of their experiences. This I believe can help people to shift from activities that have negative impacts on others or the system around them for short-term gains.

I am someone who identifies as a business professional and some times as a law-challenging activist. I am for both parts a developing Permaculturalist and a digital native. I equally believe in the power of individuals, and in the power of the system. I neither intend to operate inside or outside but to traverse the lines of systems; connecting the human and the technical to the natural. And to be someone who stewards through positive action on climate change based on bold visions for the future.

A little context

Two years ago I chose to study a masters in innovation management at Central Saint Martin’s. I had an inclination that I’d like to use business for good, to tackle sustainable challenges through new business models. But, as I found myself often asking, what the hell was I doing at an art school? Nobody was going to tell me the right way to do things around there, indeed every time I thought I had found an answer or solution to climate change it was pulled apart & I found myself being asked so what? Also, if this was management, why were we reading Michel Foucault?

One thing this experience made me do was question and map, what is my practice exactly? To get to a conclusion, I had to embrace that context is everything, art school taught me that much for sure. I became open to examining all of the different experiences that make me who I am.

My life has been a journey, you could say literally. I have traversed a career in the legal sector before choosing to enter the business of fashion. I have worked throughout but never found my ‘niche’; those places have felt somewhat restrictive and never making enough difference.

Well, okay, I have had many organisational and administrative roles because over the years I didn’t see myself as qualified for an alternative. If I’m really honest, being in the childhood education system and life was hard so I felt that playing a small game was the best way to protect myself from more stress.

For five years though, I worked hard to transform myself into the role of a lawyer; I was pursuing the interests of the ‘little guy’ who had been unfortunately injured and needed an advocate. I was good at this and progressed quickly. I also found myself on the brink of breakdown all too often; I definitely did not want to become a manager who, in my view, primarily existed to drive a team to maximise profit over their own wellbeing and those of their client.

So enter career ‘chapter two’; the burgeoning fashion professional. I was pretty good at this too, starting to think more about what makes people tick, analyse trends and data whilst manipulating digital systems to communicate with others the benefits of the brands and products I was working with. But there was still a malaise, I could perform but never really wanted to commit to an organisation’s values for too long.

Here I should note that through all this I have found myself volunteering on many occasions; taking the lead on internal CSR projects and throwing myself into building a network of likeminded people who challenge traditional business through activism and their own sustainable brands. Funny that where the values fit I found so much more time and energy to go there. But doing this full-time still, for many years, seemed like a luxury unreachable to me.

A realisation of sorts

Over all this time I see that I have been chasing the big discovery of who I am and what my ultimate purpose is before I realised, this is it.

I have a unique ecosystem and experience in the world to draw upon. This makes me enough, to be a leader, to be a mentor and a contribution to a better world. If I can embrace myself as an ecosystem then I can lead others in this direction too.

It wasn’t always this way however. Like many in work, I had learnt to turn off the internal dialogue and my questioning, is there more to life than this? You could say, the tenacious internal dialogue was more attuned to asking me what is wrong with me? and why don’t I want to work as hard as my colleagues to be a successful person?

When I read Donella Meadow’s insightful work upon natural systems I applied it to my own thinking and also concluded that, like a natural system, I was responding to the external stresses and pressures of life that were forcing me to think that I had to fit into one box or another.

Engaging with many other systemic and regenerative leaders made me realise that this embracing can start by examining my internal dialogue to tune into my own authentic desires and understanding of how the world can be impacted by my actions. I love to recommend Charles Eisenstein’s work in this conversation.

So what?

Well when I choose to draw upon all the unique experiences that I have had and bring them all together I can start to apply them to some real-world examples.

Image courtesy of Clarisse Croset, Unsplash

When I look at the issue of climate change now, instead of feeling overwhelmed I ask myself what is there that I can do? How can I use my values to drive me intuitively towards action?

In the short time that I have had since graduation (one month to be exact) I have had some really interesting conversations and been consulting with small organisations by asking them to look at the system around them and asking their founders to consider their existing ecosystem whilst mapping what skills they have, and where they need to bring in collaborators to make it a complete system with purpose.

I will use this Medium platform to tackle some of the more in-depth questions that I have been researching and share my findings. I look forward to also learning from others’ perspectives and, hopefully, sharing some great discussions as we go.

Innovation Management | Sustainable Transitions | Striving to engender the complexity mindset & systemic reasoning to tackle wicked problems

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