Tuesday, 30 August 2011

The View from Here

Remember to be gentle with yourself and others. We are all children of chance and none can say why some fields will blossom while others lay brown beneath the August sun.
Kent Nerburn

And so it's here again: August sun. In this month of sitting-on-deckchairs-in-the-fading summer I'm feeling decidedly reflective. As I round the corner into a busy fall season I hope I will get up from my deck chair next week restored. Ready to work with the green event teams that always seem to invigorate me with their ideas and enthusiasm. And I say 'hope' because for some reason this August I'm feeling a little more tired than usual. Am I alone in this?

I think I've been bleeding a bit of energy wrestling with a growing sense of concern - and it's not just that I will run out of ice tea in one more sip. I'm worried that momentum toward more sustainable events is fading. Fatigue is setting in.

Now if you're familiar with what is happening in this arena you're likely thinking I'm crazy. After all, in the coming months anticipation is high to launch ISO 20121, APEX-ASTM Environmentally Sustainable Event Standards and the GRI Event Sector Supplement. Still, it's been a long haul to this point for many people and as I look around and inward I'm wondering: do we - or let me just say do I have the energy to keep going forward?

I ask because there is a fact staring me square in the face as, after many years of work, these three processes near their close. That fact is in spite of all the discussions, all the reviews, and all the collaborations that have engaged people for years, it is now - yes only just now - that the real work is about to begin. Are you ready?

Have you looked at these standards and really thought about how feasible they are? I have, and I'll tell you what I've experienced. Failure. Failure to meet 100% of the proposed Level One ASTM-APEX specifications. Failure to meet 100% of targets in an event sustainability plan designed after ISO 20121 approaches. And for a self-professed over-achiever I tell you: it's a sucky feeling.

Yet I look around me and it seems like everyone else has bright, shiny successful sustainable event programs. And it makes me self-conscious of some of the less than perfect strategies I've implemented. Like not meeting waste management targets for not one, not two, but three events last cycle. One target missed by a mere 1%! 1%!!! Smacks like losing Game 7 in the Stanley Cup final...to come so far and then just be shy of winning.

But then, I have to pause. Reality check myself before I head into a downward spiral of not-good-enoughs to remember what I do know, and have learned. I know enough now to have an objective, and devise a way to measure success against it. I'm brave enough to set a target to reach for, even when it just slips out of my fingers and I beat myself up over the failure. And I'm stubborn enough to go back, sit in my deck chair and analyse over and over again what I need to do differently. And given that, I suppose the only real failure would be to not stand up, brush off and try again.

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