Inner Development vs. Global Problem Solving
Do you believe that your ability to exercise inner leadership and well-being is inextricably linked to your social surroundings and even global challenges?
I spent several years as a social anthropologist and global studies master researching local and worldwide sociocultural dynamics, human conflict, globalization, power, and resistance. I wanted to understand what motivates people at their core, why we do the things we do, the world we’ve created, and how I might help change it for the better. One essential thing I learnt is that inadequate leadership is to blame for many of the world’s issues.
Later, as an innovation funding expert, I was introduced to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), a set of 17 global goals aimed at ending poverty, protecting the planet, ensuring gender equality, good health, peace, and prosperity for all people, as well as an impressive array of high-tech solutions to these societal and global challenges. And yet… I got the uneasy sensation that something was missing.
It wasn’t until my own inner world crumbled and I was forced to shift my attention from societal and global issue-solving to personal problem-solving that I realised a new truth: our own well-being is inextricably linked to the well-being of our surroundings. Inner leadership is a requirement for any other type of leadership, whether political, organizational, cultural, or inside our own family or parenthood. Furthermore, it makes no difference how clever and influential our technological tools are if we lack the inner capacity to deal with our own lives as well as our increasingly complicated surroundings. Because people, not tools, drive change.
In that way, helping people from the inside out, via coaching and mental training, seems just as valuable as fixing problems from the outside in.
However, it wasn’t until my most recent trip to Stockholm that I was able to formally connect the dots by learning about a new worldwide initiative: “Inner Development Goals” (IDG), a non-profit organization dedicated to human inner growth and development. long-term leadership (go ahead and Google that). The inner compass, openness and learning mentality, self-awareness, critical thinking, sense-making, long-term orientation and visioning, connectivity, trust, communication skills, active listening, bravery, and creativity are among the 23 skills and attributes presented by the IDG. The IDGs were created as a core framework to help achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. From the standpoint of personal growth, they are the same talents that maximise each individual’s potential. This, in my opinion, demonstrates an essential point: if we can’t take care of ourselves, how can we take care of others? How can we lead others if we are incapable of leading ourselves? And if we can’t generate sustainability in our own inner lives, how can we join forces as a global society to produce social, environmental, and economic sustainability?
Despite the fact that the vast majority of the world’s governments have signed on to and committed to the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, these targets are unlikely to be met by 2030.We all have a picture of what needs to happen, but progress has been disappointing thus far.
Humans have emotional and psychological needs. It appears that we have reached a stage when an over-reliance on external technocratic solutions will simply not suffice. That is not to say that technical innovation is not required. We most definitely do! However, we must acknowledge the bridge that ties our human mind to what happens outside of ourselves. We cannot tackle the world’s problems with the same level of thought that caused them, as Einstein stated.
We humans exist in a constant state of flux with regard to ourselves and our environment, a never-ending dance that forms our reality. The strength of inner leadership is to navigate that environment deliberately by asking the appropriate questions and making the right judgments in order to create a world that both our generation and all future generations deserve.