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How do you make a difference?

Click! I am refreshing news about the climate summit in Glasgow. Have they figured it out yet? Ah, the US and China are going to work together, great. But do they agree on binding measures yet? Click. Hmm, another analysis report saying things are worse than expected. Click. Ah look, a draft text that has been heavily criticized. How I wish I could rewrite it. Click…

Frustration, hope, and disappointment are fighting for space in my head. Powerlessness wins. I take a walk outside to clear my mind. I look at the water flowing in the river, the trees slowly losing their leaves and I smell the forest floor. I imagine that the draft text of Cop26 would look very different if all those negotiators in suits were sitting together in front of their tent in the wilderness - in hip Patagonia outfits - enjoying the silhouette of the pine trees, the sound of an owl and an infinite starry sky that starts appearing.

What kind of difference can I make, being a small part in all of this? A while ago I made this e-course about conducting climate conversations together with others from Carbon Conversations (Klimaatgesprekken – in Dutch). It gave me practical things to do: how do I start a conversation about climate with friends and neighbors; how do I address the issue with politicians? It helps me to feel like I can make a little contribution.

Many people are searching for that feeling of being meaningful. To do something that brings value. Leaving a legacy or just doing something good.

In my coaching practice I see many people in their twenties and thirties looking for work in which they can make a difference. I often see them thinking very hard about the major problems they want to solve: the climate crisis, or inequality in the world, or perhaps the biodiversity crisis? They want to do something. And maybe also stand out a little in the crowd. I get it.

Though, instead of thinking hard about world problems, I often find it more useful to consider together with them: What are you good at? What are your strengths? What motivates you? If you examine yourself with these questions and aim to live your life accordingly, something extraordinarily good might just happen by itself.

How do you make a difference?


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