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It is no use saying, “We are doing our best.” You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.

December 23, 2009

A number of events have coincided recently that have caused me to reflect on the nature of change – or more specifically our resistance to it.

The first, the conference in Copenhagen. The second, the quote attributed to Winston Churchill that is the title of this post. (Geoff Kelly from Kelly Strategic Influence sent it to me as part of his Christmas wishes). Then there was my Wii Fit telling me it had been 405 days since I had last visited…

But the event that set me off on this path was a remark made by a political commentator about the recent leadership wrangles in the federal Liberal Party. The discussion centered around the apparent lack of unity – many were saying things and doing things without any consideration of the effect it might have on the larger group. The observation was then made that they behave that way because they do not hate their current circumstances (being in opposition) enough to change. When they do, they will reign in the behaviours that are negatively impacting on the larger group and do what is necessary to succeed.

I think that is about the best assessment of the current state of the world that I have ever heard and it applies just as easily to each of us as individuals as it does to groups, nations or the human race.

Our Wii Fit is a pretty good tool for helping me to get the 30 minutes of exercise a day that I know is important for my long-term health. For most of the 405 days since my last visit I was not unhappy enough with my health to invest the time each day. A recent aggravated disc has reframed my perspective. A good friend’s resistance to flossing may well be reconsidered after the 3.5 hours he spent at the dentist yesterday.

The result at Copenhagen was one I think we all saw coming. The representatives who worked actively against any binding outcome did so because they are very happy with their personal and national circumstances. As a group they don’t hate the consequences of climate change enough to work collectively to succeed. I know that our Prime Minister feels that he and his team in Copenhagen had done their best – he told me so on Twitter. On this night before Christmas I would offer Kevin and all the other leaders in the world a gift of Churchill’s words (please don’t judge me for re-gifting!).

“It is no use saying, “We are doing our best.” You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.”

And as you are also a leader I offer the same gift to you. Don’t do your best to floss often, don’t do your best to exercise regularly, don’t do your best in trying to reach a global agreement. You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.

If the desire for a planet with clean air and clean water and clean food for all is not enough to motivate you … just sit back, listen for the sound of the suction and feel the drill as it cuts away at your teeth.  Oh and try to relax – three and half hours is a long time to be in the chair.

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