Another year has passed and it is important for every leader to pause and reflect. And this time I took a bit of a bigger view of my leap of faith.
After living in a remote part of the Sierra Nevada for four years, I purchased a fixer upper in Monterey, California, six years ago. Everyone I showed the house to thought I had gone nuts. It was built in the 1950s, had never been renovated, had a leaky roof, and was located on a steep hill with a failing foundation (in earthquake country it is not good to have a faulty foundation!).
Anyhow, I saw the house and had a vision. I wanted to convert it into as sustainable a home as I could possibly create. It had passed the first test of being in a walkable neighborhood, which in California is not a sure thing. I can run almost all my errands walking or taking my bike. Check!
Next, I needed to make the house as energy efficient as I could. I invested in insulation, a new roof, and added solar panels. To minimize water usage, I changed faucets, toilets, washers, etc. to the least gallon usage possible. Check!
I fixed the foundation as I created more living space, which is so desperately needed in housing-scarce California. In the process, I switched the heat source to a heat pump. Check!
Then, a year and a half ago I was inspired by a new electric vehicle, which had a solar roof, recycled materials all throughout, and the largest charge range of any vehicle on the market. I don’t drive all that much, but in California it still is imperative to have four wheels; you can’t realistically go anywhere with public transportation.
You may recall last month I wrote in my newsletter that I took delivery of that electric vehicle. And much to my surprise, I was in full-on resistance mode. I didn’t want to let go of my old car, which really suited me. I didn’t want to learn all the new controls, the new way of regenerative breaking, the new way to update software over the air. The list goes on.
I was really on the fence just before getting across the finish line of my vision. On many occasions I had invested more time and money, decided against the more cost-effective solution, which would typically involve more fossil fuel usage because I was intrinsically motivated to do the right thing for our planet wherever I could. No one on the outside told me that I had to do this. There was no extrinsic motivation.
Was it perfect? No.
Did I always make the right decision? No.
Am I sure that what I did create here is really better for the environment? I hope so, but honestly, I don’t know.
I took a leap of faith, followed my heart, and relentlessly forged a path toward my vision.
What was the alternative? Taking action toward that vision was better than just sitting on the sideline and blaming others or waiting for others to step up. It’s up to all of us, you and me, regardless if it’s in our own family, our team at work, our organization or beyond.
I came across a line in a movie a couple of nights ago: ”The universe rewards the brave.” It feels right. We all need to be brave. There is so much adversity and so much that we still must get right, but let’s not stop trying.
Jon Alexander, Co-Founder of the New Citizenship Project, in a recent post said:
“What we need, I believe, is the kind of leader who says something like this …
“We face truly unprecedented challenges. In all honesty, I’m afraid myself. I don’t have easy answers because there are none. But what I do know is that we will get through this best if we do it together – if we get everyone involved – if we create the conditions for everyone to make the contribution they’re capable of.”
This weekend I found myself restless. I hopped in my new car, opened the sunroof to let in the December light, found myself a beautiful country road with fall leaves, and cranked up the music. ‘Ride like the wind’ by Christopher Cross on full blast, I had so much fun whipping around the corners and realizing that I had actually accomplished my goal. The car was the final manifestation of what I had set out to do — create a sustainable and energy efficient home that leaves less of a carbon footprint than what was there before. And I felt joy!
That’s what I want for you and me in 2024, to be brave, be ambitious, even if we are scared and don’t know exactly how to get there. But together we can all be so impactful. I will raise a glass to that at midnight this New Years Eve.
Wondering about ideas for you to take a leap of faith?