Blog (2011-2014)

Back to all posts
  • Skating Lessons From An Eternal Optimist

    Skating Lessons From An Eternal Optimist

    (Image via Pinterest)

    On my flight back to Toronto today, I read Al Etmanski's (see below for more about Al) collection of essays "Where are you skating to in 2012?" and was completely blown away/inspired. The title comes from Wayne Gretzky's famous hockey quote "I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been" and the essays are written by thought leaders in social innovation discussing their passions, curiosities and explorations for 2012 and beyond. It is a must read for innovators and change makers navigating the tumultuous future economic/societal landscape.

    For a peak into the collection, below is the essay written by Paul Born, President and co-founder of The Tamarack Institute, which made me want to cheer after reading. Enjoy!

    When the ice is good, it is easier to skate than to walk. Similarly when relationships are positive it is always better to walk with others. I have this growing sense that things are going to gets a lot worse. This comes from a guy whose wife introduces him as the eternal optimist, always seeing the cup overflowing (though she quickly adds this gets annoying some days).

    So why does this optimist think things are going to get a lot worse? The systems we have come to rely on no longer serve us well, they are broken. The environment is a mess, the economy is unstable to the point of being wonky, and people are angry and scared all over the place and rising up against both justice (conservative and fundamentalist movements) and injustice.

    I used to think “these troubles” have always been with us and for sure we will get through them. I still believe we will get through them though I am convinced this is not trouble as normal. Things are going to get worse before they get better and no amount of innovation or brilliance will save us from the pain worse is going to cause.

    So what are the things this optimist feeling pessimistic is going to skate toward in the next year to get ready to absorb the pain?

    One: I am going to look for a neighborhood where people know each other and are doing things together and that engage in acts of caring and co reliance. I am going to help this neighborhood be more than they already are by inspiring a project they can work on together that will help someone other than themselves. I want to experience collective altruism with them. I may even move there.

    Two: I am going to help cities realize that by ending poverty they are promoting security. Less poverty means less reason for jails and hospitals.

    Three: I am going to walk with those who desire new forms of leadership. I want to visit places that embrace leaderfulness. Places where lots of leadership can co exist and where people are learning to walk together and pull in the same direction.

    Four: I am going to party more, laugh harder, reach out to those who are lonely and embrace (hug) the goodness all around me because I believe that when times get bad you practice the good stuff a lot, with gusto.

    and… I am going to slow down so I can see the good ice and then I am going skate there often. I am going to slow down so I can meet good people, build relationships and walk and listen and talk. 

    The full collection is viewable here. Al Eltmanksi is the President and co-founder of Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network (PLAN), which is part of the Social Innovation Generation (SiG) partnership. Also, check out Al's blog here (it's great!).

    - Satsuko