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Healing the Earth; Companies Making a Difference

Sun behind structure. I see a Great Emerging happening in the world. People are waking up to their impact on the earth and taking action. I hear them talk about using the spiritual fulfillment reached through their spiritual practices and deep inner work and doing something practical to heal the earth. They talk of a longing, a yearning, an urge to "do something". They feel the urgent push to put legs on their dreams.

Socially responsible and environmentally sustainable actions are increasing. Books, movies, universities, and for-profit companies, are making choices that used to be primarily in the arena of the not-for-profit and government sectors. Each choice is pointing to an emerging awareness, an awakening, that everything is interconnected -- that our actions have an impact to the world -– that there are far-reaching consequences to our choices. We are starting to take socially responsible, environmentally sustainable action. Sustainability, social and environmental, is now big business.

Sustainability is showing up in popular books, magazines and movies. Books like the DaVinci Code and movies like What the Bleep and The Secret on the Internet, have opened us to a different way to look at the world. Time magazine recently ran a featured article on global warming that was alarming and eye-opening. Business magazines like Fast Company, Fortune, and Business 2.0 are publishing articles that show the economics of environmentalism and social change. People are responding to the messages.

Sustainability is showing up in our universities and MBA programs. Green, sustainable, and health-related products and services account for nearly $230 billion in annual sales. Companies from Nike to GE to McDonalds are integrating sustainability into their operations to minimize risk and increase profits. Universities are creating Green MBA programs for triple bottom line management reporting (People, Planet and Profits). Universities are creating social venture leadership programs. At Emory, a 12-month program funded by Kenneth Cole, teaches student collaborative community building and social change. Similar service leadership programs exist in other schools, such as, Duke University, Mills College, Reed College, and the University of Missouri.

Cathedral with round window. Sustainability is showing up in software and banking businesses. Hyperion, a software company in Santa Clara, Calif., launched a "Drive Clean to Drive Change" initiative. Employees are offered $5,000 toward the purchase of a hybrid or other fuel-efficient car. Tridoros Bank, with customers in the Netherlands, Belgium, England, and Spain, uses money as an instrument for social change. It is known primarily for financing organic agriculture and sustainable-energy projects, as well as nurturing art and artists. HSBC, a London-based megabank, committed itself to becoming carbon neutral by spending its cash on green energy projects that reduce CO2 emissions by the same amount the bank creates.

Sustainability is showing up in food industry companies. Whole Foods is the largest organic- and natural-foods grocer in the country, and in the world. It is buying enough wind-power credits to offset the energy use at all of its U.S. stores, making it the corporate world's largest consumer of renewable energy. Numi Tea, out of Oakland, Calif., sells teas that are organic and most varieties are Fair Trade certified with the rest in the approval process. It is the eighth most-popular tea in the U.S market and is the fastest-growing of the top 10 tea companies worldwide. Earthbound Farms is the largest organic produce grower and shipper in North America and operates around 24,000 certified organic acres in the US (Arizona, California, Colorado, and Washington), Mexico, and New Zealand. Rubicon, in Richmond, Calif., operates two social enterprises, Rubicon Bakery (selling gourmet bakery goods nationally online and at Costco stores) and Rubicon Landscape. It helps people, particularly the mentally disabled and homeless, get the jobs, housing and skills they need to lead independent lives.

Winter tree. Collaboration creates sustained success for sustainable businesses. Each of these actions towards a socially responsible and environmentally sustainable world started with a personal urge, followed by collaboration and taking action. Perhaps you know this urge, this yearning. Maybe you have a project you've been thinking about, you have a business you want to start. Whatever it is, the time is NOW. There are thousands and millions of people who are feeling this urge to take action and do something. Every action taken by each individual, no matter how small, collectively moves our planet toward a sustainable future.

Here is my wish for you, your partners, and your team. Dream big – and then get help. Know that you are not alone; we are all one. Know that one person can make a difference. If you have the spark of an idea, go for it! Then find partners and fellow collaborators. Join organizations that support you in keeping your dream alive. Join groups that will give you the contacts you need to move forward. Hire a coach. Coaches are an excellent way to take a dream and make it a reality in the world. Learn how to ignore those old tapes of lack and limitation that tell you why you can't do what you want to do. Take your passion and urge to make a difference in the world, and do something with it. As your coach I will commit to your sustained success. I will help you flesh out your dream, create an inspiring plan, and see yourself larger than you currently see yourself. I will help you build healthy relationships, design powerful collaborations, and take courageous action; that's what I'm here for. Go make your dream for our world happen!

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