I am writing this post further to a conversation with a friend and mentee who held the limiting belief that change and our ability to make and/or influence meaningful change at a personal level is difficult, if not impossible.
The little town of Smallville and the mythical planet of Krypton are no longer the only place where mild mannered, magnanimous, superhero’s can be found. Superman (now of course gender neutral) was the creation in the 1930’s, the light of hope, in the depths of the great depression. Clarke Kent, is now the essential workers, that race to shed their civilian clothes into their PPE, yet, unlike Superman’s friendly face, his smile of reassurance, the victims, the weak and vulnerable, have only soft words and actions of the key workers. These modern day heroes hide behind masks of anonymity, as they fight this modern day villain that appears far more heinous than Lex Luthor, or perhaps today it is Fu Manchu.
Across history and literature, from poets to revolutionaries, we often find ourselves siding with the main characters, the defined heroes. The fight for good over evil and administering our own mental justice of what is in our opinion fair and just. Twenty - twenty has certainly been a year to remember and we have seen some fundamental global shifts in thinking. The connection to others, irrespective of their nationality, race, religion, political beliefs, has seen barriers broken down and perhaps at some level seen a yearning to be part of something bigger. This has meant standing outside the house in deep solidarity and clapping religiously at 8pm, as a matter of respect, for the heroics of the selfless key workers doing their individual day to day roles. These modern day heroes, who like Christopher Reeve said; "A hero is an ordinary individual who finds strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles." For which he himself on and off set, turned into a modern day real life hero. As such it is Captain Tom and not Captain Marvel who perhaps leads the charge, to the start of something positive to come from what could easily become the twenty- twenty debacle of monumental proportion. One could argue the similarity to the charge of the light brigade, or perhaps appropriately known as the battle of balaclava.
The polemicists and the conspiracy theories run wild, as data suggests that western economies are hardest hit by COVID- 19 and the IMF forecasted growth numbers show China as one of the only countries to stay in positive territory with GDP growth estimated to be 1.2 percent even in twenty-twenty. WHO is to blame! The question on some lips become focused on the WHO not WHO. How effective and impartial the WHO are and will remain, sees the withdrawal of substantial funding as a response to capital flowing in to support the a certain re-election campaign. A see-saw of global power, that creates great media content, rather than focus on the actual therapeutic outcomes being produced that would globally useful.
The global economy races downwards past the global financial crisis indicators, to towards its worst performance since the great depression. Like so many people, businesses, sitting in the wings, waiting for a part to play outside of enforced isolation the other side of lockdown. Yet Isolationism seems to be a much bigger game at a government level, for which certain countries are strategically devoting the entire countries focus to its own advancement politically and economically by withdrawing from all agreements with other nations. Whilst the Imperialist past invokes demonstrations where Cecil Rhodes becomes the focus, yet the statistics show that nearly six people in every thousand are today in modern day slavery.
Perhaps the singular idea of a superhero saving the world has disappeared and instead of Superman, we need a superhero team. ‘The Union’ the imaginary British superhero team, which originally caused upset across the pond when Marvel created it, has ironically, shown the deep divides and the lack of team union during the COVID 19 pandemic.
Sometimes the noise in our heads can be deafening, even mentally paralysing as we contemplate our own change and the impact the world has on us. As you look in the metaphoric mirror, perhaps the only true chance we have to change anything is to recognise the superhero before you, your very own ‘agent for change’ looking back.
Let me digress a little with a perspective shift, and rather than talk at psychological level of change, focus on the environment that we want to change. Perhaps the new superhero is someone who controls or can influence the movement of capital and direct it towards a people’s agenda, your agenda.
As an example and a demonstration that you don’t have to have Jeff Bezos wealth, to influence change. Being the richest man in the world with 113 billion dollars he could however certainly influence change faster than any government, if he chose to do so. Apart from the outstanding business model that he has created, one could argue that you using the Amazon platform gave him this title and is a demonstration and beauty of the free market economy. I hear the argument, that Institutional investors actually put him there, yet it was only a worthwhile investment for investors, because of us the “stakeholders” using the platform and sharing all your buying habits and highly meaningful data with them so they are able to create and control their market. This is of course has proven to be a profitable model for shareholders perhaps at the cost of the stakeholders.
So back to change, where investments and philanthropy perhaps starts at home, with you, your family, friends, your network. Think about the wider ecological system, the world you want to live in, and have a financial mindset for change. Only invest your capital in things you ethically and fundamentally agree and are aligned with. Pension funds, institutional and HNW private investors look for opportunities and returns and will generally go wherever the growth is, the markets are ultimately fickle.
If you take an interest in where your personal money is invested and start to direct it through your own pensions, savings and investments, whilst considering the political and geographical jurisdictions that are also aligned to your investment philosophy, rather than just towards sectors, and industries that are solely profit focused. You may be surprised what happens when momentum starts to grow and more and more people move away from things that are not aligned to a deeper purpose that are ecological, sustainable and governance focused. Recently a well-known global asset manager threatened to punish some well-known businesses for lack of progress on climate change. It threatened a host of possible capital and investment restrictions which could impact their business if they continue with their own agenda and lack of action on climate change.
Perhaps “change is an outcome of where the money goes” and as such the returns will also follow where the money goes.
One could philosophically argue that science merely is us proving what already exists and as such the cure for COVID-19 is out there. If so, then it is a mixture of the science, influence and directed capital, with the commitment for these things to work as one to find it that will bring change.
So perhaps the future superheroes are “Stakeholder Capitalists” that recognise the present system requires a realignment. Further, that the ‘Metropolis’ needs fixing, where social media platforms are our own version of the ‘daily planet’ and where we all decide to shout “Up, up and away” to the old shareholder profit before all else models. On the other hand, perhaps we will stick to the old ways, hold on to our limiting belief in glorious isolation that we can’t individually make any meaningful impact on changing the world.
Ultimately, if we believe change is within each one of us as individuals, then at what level, does the realisation come, that there can be no separation from our thoughts words and deeds. Our actions at a personal level bring causal change, not only to our individual lives but to the lives and world around us.
Stay safe and keep creating positive change.
Nick Savastano, Founder of Beyond Thinking
Personal Performance Coach and Mentor