This one's slightly heavy content up front, followed by an empowering model to make better sense of things to follow...hope you're down to follow along! (5 min read)
With all sorts of things unspooling at a rapid rate...
Disaster fatigue. It's a thing.
It's getting to be a bit much keeping track of it all.
So we oscillate between morbid fascination and doom scrolling on the one hand, to denial and wishful thinking on the other. (didn't even mention culture wars and vaxx angst––as these are largely manufactured tempests in teapots we'll come back to in a minute.)
Meanwhile tsunamis roam the world.
So it's really critical to remember what level of the stack is teetering, not get subsumed by distractions, and to make ongoing, provisional (yet actionable) decisions on what to do now/next.
Because I've noticed that many conversations/arguments about the state of things tend to go back and forth debating the objective conditions––either things are super bad, or hyped and overblown.
But in reality, the "objective conditions" are only one of three factors to consider, and if we miss the other two, our math will always be off.
One of the best models I've experienced to help doing this is one developed by the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) for assessing risks in mountaineering expeditions.
Their Risky Business Triangle is made up of three sides: Objective Risk, Subjective Risk, and Acceptable Risk.
Success = Balancing Objective Hazards + Subjective Hazards + Accepted Risks
In the mountains, for instance, there is the...
If we were trying to climb K2 for instance, the objective hazard is that mountain kills one in four people who try to climb it. But the accepted risk is "I want to be one of the ones who stands on the top of the world's most fearsome mountain and am willing to spend time in the Pain Cave to do it!" The subjective hazard is who did we pick to try the thing and how talented we are and how well we work together (plus our ability to endure suffering and not have those two things degrade much).
There's not a singular static "Risk" out there to calculate––it's the dynamic intersection of all three legs of that stool that calculates the difference between Triumph and Disaster.
Now, let's return to that briefly discussed climate report that just came out (see here if you didn't already). A few things:
Applied to our situation, we have:
Covid is a minor and unsettling dress rehearsal, in no way fatal to our civilization or way of life in and of itself. But combined with our Accepted Risks and Subjective Hazards, it's a harbinger of bumpy days ahead.
So when we wonder about ways out of our current pile-up, and we linger over hopeful options like geo-engineering (carbon sequestration or cloud seeding), or blockchain or ecovillages or the next election or anything else we've seen on TED talks or dreamt up on our vision boards, it's really critical to factor in our Subjective Hazards (the people involved), and our Accepted Risks.
The Objective Hazards, like the mountains (and The Dude) just abide. They are what they are. The winds gonna blow and the flames gonna burn and the crops are gonna grow and the fish are gonna spawn, and the rains gonna fall...or not.
And no matter what we say on cable news or social media, these forces are going to obey natural law, not human punditry. (That's not to rule out positive interventions on our part––just to say we've got a loaded system with a ton of momentum baked in).
But how well we bond together as a team to get hard things done––that's on us. We can turn our Subjective Hazards into our key strength.
So are the type and intensity of Accepted Risks we're willing to tolerate to expand our options. For instance, instead of what appears to be our default Accepted Risk of "we're willing to cut this as close as possible without tolerating any drop-off to Western standards of living, or impingement to stock markets and political ambitions"...we could use this time between worlds to radically rethink what we want (as many folks are already doing in the midst of the Great Resignation––learn about it here) and retool what we're willing to do.
It could be, "I am willing to step off the hamster wheel/rat race and step up to my life's calling" or...
What are we willing to do is one of the most powerful tools we have to shift the Risk Equation in the right direction and radically improve our chances for happy endings.
We learned a lot at Camp Omega this summer having these convos, and have a bunch of great practical insights to highlight––including some paint by numbers checklists, links to rad orgs in the world you can plug in with and all else.
We'll be sharing some really good additional frames, suggestions and options on all of this stuff in the coming emails––so stay tuned there.
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