Solastalgia, Missy Higgins And Well-being

Ploughing through the headlines around the Royal Commission into Banking it’s no wonder we feel this incredible grief and sadness at times. It’s not exactly inspiring to wake up to these headlines, it’s even less inspiring to be waking up to them decade after decade.

Missy Higgins has just released her first album in years, it’s called Solastalgia, which is a term coined by Professor Glenn Albrecht that describes the painful feeling you get when a place is wrecked. It’s brilliant Missy Higgins can use her public profile to give name to what so many feel, but are at a loss of words to explain and express. Whilst the term originated out of the landscapes and natural places lost from climate change, extreme weather events, or the passage of time and ‘growth’, it applies equally to the sense of sadness we experience when other ‘places’ become wrecked and we long for some place in our imaginations where we felt better.

In an interview this week with Konda Mason, Founder and CEO of Impact Hub Oakland (USA), Co-Founder Well-Being In Business Lab, impact entrepreneur, and lifetime activist and advocate, Konda spoke about the urgent need for change in the fundamental way we do business. We live amidst the great wreckage of the industrial revolution, and a legacy economic system that has caused unspeakable damage to the planet, alienated humans, and etched a great divide between those who have and those who do not have. It’s expected then, that the AMPs of the world, as a mere microcosm of the macro, operate in this way, in an economic climate that values “me” over “we”.  Our large corporations, despite attempts to band aid with what might now seem like token policies, values, and culture statements, have failed us, and the planet.

It’s not all doom and gloom however, as there is a shift occurring, a great tide of change happening. For some it’s more visible and palpable than for others, but it’s there. It’s a rising of the voice that says, “stop”, and asks the question as Konda Mason so eloquently framed it, “are we going to change our living habits or are we going to continue as if we don’t care about the next generation, and the next generation, and the next?”.  And as our dear friend David Whyte would urge, “what is the beautiful question we need to be asking ourselves?”

The pressure we’ve put on our planet, the destruction of our natural world to fuel and forge our ‘economic prosperity’ has left our planet dying. It has left billions of people living in abject poverty. And the thing we still don’t seem to get, is that if you have even one person living in abject poverty, we are all poor. What one part experiences, so too does the whole. We speak a lot in our corporate jargon about ecosystems, like we’ve purchased the term and now it seems, we own it. But we don’t truly understand what it is to be a living, interdependent organism within a greater ecosystem.

There is a sweeping change however, our individual and collective consciousness around these issues is rising, we are becoming more awake to what it means for us to be truly well. Alongside the new breed of business that’s proliferating, the purpose-driven start up, the social and environmental tech businesses, we also need to heal the great corporate monoliths we have created, we need to treat the cancer that’s spread, and restore well-being to the entire system.

It’s no mean feat. We’ve been trying for a long time, some more earnestly and authentically than others. When the world first really attuned to the depth of the issue of climate change, which, by the way, is a central and core issue, many of us went into overwhelm, if not denial. The problem feels so vast and big, and insurmountable, where do we start? Well the wonderful Simon Sinek would say we start with ‘why’, however we don’t. We must start with ‘I’. First, we make ourselves well. We take care of our ‘selves’, we nourish and move our bodies, we clear our minds and become radically present. From the vantage point of our own well-being we then look outwards to where we can and must foster well-being, continue to radically shift our organisational culture away from the competitive mindset of ‘me’ to the flourishing and abundant mindset of ‘we’.

Reminds me of a poem by a wonderful man…

Start close in,
don’t take the second step
or the third,
start with the first
close in,
the step
you don’t want to take.

Start with
the ground
you know,
the pale ground
beneath your feet,
your own
way of starting
the conversation.

Start with your own
give up on other
people’s questions,
don’t let them
smother something

To find
another’s voice,
your own voice,
wait until
that voice
becomes a
private ear
to another.

Start right now
take a small step
you can call your own
don’t follow
someone else’s
heroics, be humble
and focused,
start close in,
don’t mistake
that other
for your own.

Start close in,
don’t take
the second step
or the third,
start with the first
close in,
the step
you don’t want to take.

~David Whyte, from River Flow: New and Selected Poem

You can listen to the interview with Konda Mason speaking eloquently about the need for well-being, what it is, and the change she sees is imminent

You can experience a full day immersive leadership workshop into Well-Being In Business with Konda herself in Melbourne and Sydney at the end of May. Konda will explore the need for a holistic view of well-being, and a framework to apply well-being practices, policies, drawn from real world business case studies. Click here to find out more and register.

Tuesday 29 May, Melbourne & Thursday 31 May, Sydney



Melanie Greblo