Inspire me! A visit from the University of Chur
On Thursday Oct 27th, a group of Bachelor of Tourism students from the Uni of Chur in northern Switzerland visited our Nyon HQ.
Prof Tobias Luthe brought the 18 students to learn more about TFT's way of working. They were on a 2 day tour to the Geneva region and were interested in learning as much as they could about sustainability.
I presented the TFT Supply Chain approach and shared the thinking behind our VT TV model - Values, Transparency, Transformation and Verification. The discussion turned quickly to the question of how to bring change at scale.
We explored the importance of NGO campaigns but also got onto the matter of inspiration. I shared my belief that beating people up and telling them they're rubbish only goes so far. It seldom inspires them. It makes them feel bad and brings great tension into the change process. The tension can be helpful but too often, it pushes people into the shadows, away from dialogue, to avoid the pain.
I explained that TFT's job has been to bring people into the light. I shared some of my experiences of how I'd managed to help companies move toward sustainability in the past. I explained my thinking that it was all about inspiring people and I shared TFT’s Coat of Arms with those five critical values - Truth, Respect, Courage, Humility and Compassion. I truly believe that if we act according to those values in everything we do, we'll make progress.
I had shared my "It Starts with Beauty" essay with Tobias the day before and he was going to share it with the students that evening, after my presentation. I whetted their appetite by expanding on my thinking that first and foremost, I believe that people are at their essence basically good but that too often, day-to-day pressures crowd out that goodness. Our job at TFT is to call that good into the light so that people can act truly in accordance with it.
The only way to call that goodness out in someone else is by you yourself acting according to your own goodness. This seemed to resonate with the students, especially when I shared the findings in Professor Martin Nowak's Super Cooperators book about our ability to influence people at 3 degrees of separation. That is a hopeful, positive message and while there seems no end of people acting badly everywhere in the world and no shortage of bad news, we have to hope, we have to believe that we can do something to bring about change. If we act truly to our own values and then we just might achieve change at scale.
The students asked loads of questions, we had a good laugh and in the end, for me it was a really great afternoon. The student's inspired me.
Thanks to Professor Luthe and the students for visiting us and to TFT's Yvette Ewers for suggesting it.