Journey from desert to paradise

Integrating sustainability into an organization is challenging. They tell you that in your studies. Sustainability professionals tell you that too and yet one underestimates just how hard it is. If you personally have seen the light, then it can be difficult to understand why others have not seen the importance of it. I have been an observer of this phenomenon at work as well in my private life for many, may years.

Motivation is a big part of this big and complex picture. What motivates me might – and quite obviously also does – not motivate others. During a workshop at Cambridge I heard the fascinating talk of a professional, who talked about the human sides, which influence motivation and engagement. Personal interest was one of them, but was not the whole truth. Motivation also comes from societal gains and the genuine will to help people. He reminded me of a professor at a previous university who said, that for the area of human resource management, the only thing you need is love. Very much connecting it to feelings, which have been largely excluded from our professional environments, but something we clearly need to go back to. While this should not divert us from looking at facts, empathy, gut feeling as well as all the other feelings make us human.Neglecting this side of us, or downplaying it, puts emphasis on one part of us, that has rarely made people happy. We need a much larger share of these important aspects of being human in our professional lives/ organizations as it has been up until now.

The challenge of motivating others needs to be guided through what is dear to their heart – and this might be financial gains, recognition etc. or it might be just getting the sense of contributing to something that feels right.

With the vast array of issues we are facing in the world, the problem side can be increasingly overwhelming. While highly important to create a general understanding of the world we live in with focus on the challenges we have, it is important to look at the optimistic side.Focusing only on the hardships is making your life very heavy.

I have learned this the hard way.

About one year ago, I did a lot of reading about scenarios of where climate change will bring us – us as a society, the human species as a whole and the natural environment. I came across “optimistic” forecasts, which were still disheartening, but also “the end of humans as a species” through habitat loss. Heavy, my mind was exhausted and despair was just around the corner. It took several months to lift this heavy curtain again.

Mostly I achieved this by reconnecting even more with the human side in me, which loves to enjoy time with the most important people in my life, helping others, supporting a change movement in my country of choice as well as working more and more with Permaculture (PERMAnent agriCULTURE). The connection to the principles of Permaculture as well as the understanding that a different way was possible, pushed me into the solution direction and challenged me to engage even more pro-actively in advocating for the solution focus.

Permaculture Principles

For me permaculture is one of the best ways to :

  • get inspired for changing towards a sustainable life style all-encompassing (food, housing, human as well as environmental health, increasing biodiversity, healthy community living and much, much more)
  • connect with a lot of people sharing the same passion for change and for a change in how we look at our world
  • reconnect with things that deeply matter to you.


The following shows what permaculture can be used for in various fantastic ways (Click and a new window will open which contains the trailer to a beautiful movie):



Focusing on the positive things in life is crucial unless you want to end in despair. For some this might be easy, but for me it is an act of training myself to look at the good sides. Permaculture motivated and inspired me to look that way.

It moved me from only looking at the desert to imagining the paradise, rolling my sleeves up and creating this paradise myself – it feels a little bit like the transformation of the Loss plateau in China, where permaculturists converted a piece of abused land into a permaculture paradise, flourishing within 10 years (1998-2008).



2 thoughts on “Journey from desert to paradise

  1. Without any doubt our heart is our center of individual existence. Our heart is the motivator of what drives us to do in a moment, a day or even our entire life. After life we return as dust back to earth. I believe that Earth, mother nature and our hearts will always be connected and should be a core of our acting. It is up to us to decide if that’s what we want to live otherwise nature may decide differently for us. Conservation International made this touching 2-minute video and concluded well: “nature doesn’t need people, but people need nature”:

    We have to decide, individually, to direct away from our never ending competitive focus to growth and materialistic success. This generates overloaded stress which will blind us from being connected to our inner conscious. Full consciousness we need to be able to hear our deep inner-voice. This voice will reconnect us to our center, our heart. Only from out of this situation we are able to disconnect from the “excitement” of money and greed and the damage which that does to us today (Hamilton, 2006. Greed and Corporate Failure. Elkington, 2008. The power of unreasonable people). This “short-term excitement” is nothing else than a physical excitement: as soon as we reach the top it is gone. To be able to generate any long-term feeling, which I will call love, we need to consciously connect to ourselves before we are able to give this to others. Did you already once wondered why for example in Japan people always smile and are friendly to you? Spirituality could be the strength we need more in the West: to reconnected to love, nature and care.

    How would you see the combined forces of on one hand love and care and on the other hand conservation for nature and respect?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for introducing me to the world of Permaculture. Fascinating!

    When I look at the Permaculture Principles, something that immediately struck me was that this could be a guidebook for all of us to lead our lives sustainably and our societies to flourish in a sustainable manner. Earth care, people care and fair share, to me, are the pillars for sustainable development.

    This then begs the question: How can Principles of Permaculture be applied more widely to promote sustainable development? While I don’t expect an answer from you right away, it could be interesting to reflect upon this in your future blogs on sustainability leadership.

    This has given me food for thought on integrating these principles to my own lifestyle! So, thanks for that again 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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