Good leadership stands or falls with good communication. Talking and telling stories is what connects us. A few weeks ago I turned my cow radar back on and realized that there is a lot of nonsense.
But with a well-told story it makes people move. If you only say draw, you are guilty as a leader of misleading your troops.
Read those sentences again, so you don’t have to about a good a story, but beautifully he told it a story. Because people also go along with a story that is not true, as long as it is told well.
Why am I telling you this? The consequences of a ‘tale well told, bad’ can be enormous. So it’s important to be sharp and carefully sift through which stories serve you, your loved ones, and the entire planet best.
Why a short shower is a bad story
You remember those frogs in the pot from one of my previous columns? Those frogs really stand out. The story of the boiled frog turns out to be complete nonsense.
Fortunately, the consequences of this misleading story are not so great. It turns out that no frogs were killed in the process (in retrospect). But what I am going to talk about now is of a different order. It’s about ‘a story well told, so bad’.
It will certainly seem familiar to you, because it is so beautiful and easy to say. In addition, it seems logical and you can start immediately. It is about the fictional story of short rain.
Because short showers are not pleasant, but they are definitely good for the environment, they say. Now if you look at that seriously, it’s just a bad story. Why? It seems that you do a lot, but in practice it is very little.
If you want to save gas, insulate your house, that makes more sense
Let’s say you took a full five minute shower today. Your conscience is at ease, you can go through the day feeling green and fresh. But your effect is very small. “Yeah, but what if everyone does that?!” Even that is stupid. Because it distracts from the real story.
Your hot water consumption is only a small part of your gas consumption. If you want to save gas, insulate your house, that will help more. And if you have already done that, then removing your home from gas is much smarter.
Well, you don’t care about gas but about water savings? Then eat less meat or don’t buy new clothes. Don’t kid yourself that those few minutes of shorter showers make all the difference and that you’re done ‘doing good’.
Economy with gas? Not better!
Through a article I came across the most powerful fiction from the ever-critic Rutger Bregman. And the short story of the shower is part of that.
The big story is about reducing the use of fossil fuels. A few consuming is stupid if you really want to make a difference, strange as it may sound. I’m getting into dangerous territory here, I know, but a little graying-out recipe is always good, right?
Why wouldn’t it make sense to fly a little, turn off your heater and drive a fuel-efficient car? That’s a no-brainer isn’t it? Yes and no.
The problem is definitely bigger than your spending. Even if you could get your own score down to zero, it still wouldn’t move. And besides, it’s no fun at all to deal with these kinds of restrictive things if you, like me, like comfort to a great extent. I want to take a long bath, I want my piece of meat, I want to go to beautiful countries far away and there I also want to take a long bath and even more pieces of meat.
But even if we all stopped doing this, which would cause the entire world economy to collapse, it would still be just a drop in the ocean. And that drop also costs a lot of effort. What if we could achieve greater success with less effort? Wouldn’t that be more interesting? And how about that Rolls-Royce?
From the footsteps to the new course
So the problem is not on your personal feet. The real problem is the ubiquity and heavy reliance on fossil fuels to make our lives enjoyable and comfortable.
If we use less of that, the situation will not change. We are still addicted as well. Then we think we are all doing the same, but we don’t take any steps towards a real the solution.
So what is a good story? Please note, William MacAskill has thought it through carefully and has now convinced me. He is a genius, a philosopher and knows what works. What is the best solution then? Just hearing what not to do that annoys you, you hear enough at home.
To set a good example, I’m already saving up for a new, all-electric Rolls-Royce
The alternative MacAskill gives us is as simple as it is practical. His advice: invest as much as you can in solutions that are NOT dependent on fossil fuels. Technologies that produce clean energy, companies that actually develop sustainable alternatives. Something that ensures that we can continue to pay attention to our desires for comfort, but that we no longer need oil or gas for it.
And I want to contribute fully to that. I too would like to invest in a sustainable solution. To set a good example, I’m already saving up for a new electric Rolls-Royce.
All kidding aside, it’s not (only) about that Rolls-Royce. It’s about thinking for yourself. To continue to pay attention to the stories you hear, which you pass on and which help you the most. That’s leadership, being critical of what you say. Not only for others, but also for yourself.
It actually works as an annoying idea. It doesn’t help much to think about them a few times. Then the result is still negative and energy absorbing. Replace that thought with a positive one. And enjoy under a long and hot shower. I say, fuck Wim Hof, it can’t get me hot enough.