52 Books, Book 30
The book Stress-Free Sustainability: Leverage Your Emotions, Avoid Burnout and Influence Anyone, by Adam Hammes addresses our biggest obstacle in working toward a new future. We lose energy or give up because it seems like we are not making a difference.
The leadership process that I teach seems easy. It involves seeing what we want, starting to take action and then stretching our perspective and abilities. If you are attempting to lead yourself or others to a new result, you are always in one stage or another. It is like a never ending cycle.
Sustainability consultant, speaker, and coach Adam Hammes, writes a book specifically targeted for people in the stretch phase of the leadership process. What he discovered through experience of leading himself and others to a more sustainable way of living is shared throughout the book. His book sings to the choir of existing and would-be evangelists for social and environmental issues. As a member of that choir, I already see what is possible. I am at the point that it feels like common sense to make consumer choices that work best for our environment and health. The book is for people who have already taken action in their own way.
What he offers is unique. He offers encouragement and new insight for the stretch part of the leadership process. That is the part of the process where it just easier to give up on the dream than to dig in and learn more.
Hammes tapped into emotional intelligence research and psychology, to gain more insight into the people around him. He shares what he has learned about eliminating stress. Stress often shows up in the form of feeling like the problems are too big. It may also show up when we notice people around us who do not care. It feels like our efforts are failing. He frames the concept of influence in new light. He says there are three stages of Influence: Contempt, Curiosity, and Commitment.
What I learned in the book about influence helped me settle into the work of taking one step at a time. As an example, I learned what to do when people are in the contempt stage. For a conflict adverse personality like mine, contempt sounds scary and like there is nothing to do but run. Hammes suggests, otherwise. He invites us to consider that people in this stage are either are too busy to notice a new-to-them idea or there is a true concern that the ideas violate what they believe to be true. I have certainly been there before and it gives me a new sense of compassion for people who are in this stage.
Instead of running from these people I can learn to stay connected by finding out more.
Hammes reminds us that our tendency to categorize people is an aspect of our brain function. He says:
Throwing ideas and people into buckets is easy, necessary, and neurologically just the way things work. You can’t examine every opposing idea that comes your way. But it is helpful to be aware of the process if you ever hope to lead significant change efforts.
This example reminded me that when people who think different than I do about sustainability; I put them into a bucket of no hope. I forget that I used to be in that bucket a few years ago. I didn’t care or take the time to think about ways to live a more sustainable life. I changed my thinking and others will and can change too.
By sharing his own personal experiences, the book provides insight into the messy process of trying things and learning from experience. There are many tips and insights that Adam shares from what he has learned along the way. If you value making a change or a difference, reading this book will energize you to learn from your experiences and try again.