Cultivating a Sustainability Mindset

A 'Sustainability Mindset' will help you tackle complex issues in uncertain times. Discover 12 principles for small business success.

Cultivating a Sustainability Mindset
Photo by Matt Ridley / Unsplash

In today's wild and unpredictable world, we are constantly reminded of the uncertainty in our lives. Yet, surprisingly, these challenges can also ignite our passion for more meaningful personal and professional experiences.

Called a 'Sustainability Mindset,' this framework offers a comprehensive perspective for understanding and addressing complex environmental and social issues in these uncertain times.

In the final session of our "Sustainability Re-Imagined" series, we welcomed Dr Karen Cripps from Oxford Brookes Business School to shed light on the 'Sustainability Mindset' and how nurturing this way of thinking boosts resilience, attracts talent and fosters a shift towards conscious capitalism for everyone's benefit.

So keep reading to explore how the 'Sustainability Mindset' can help you navigate an uncertain world and transform how you think, work and lead.

Missed the session? No worries, scroll to the bottom for the replay.

Thriving in a VUCA World

Living in a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) world marked by climate change, economic uncertainty, and ongoing global health crises can be daunting.

When it comes to sustainability, your emotions play a starring role. Feelings of apathy, exhaustion, and overwhelm damper innovation and inspiration, two essential ingredients for business growth.

So, how do you navigate this rollercoaster? Integrating sustainability into our core purpose and actions and showing genuine commitment through tangible steps.

This approach not only benefits the environment and society but also unlocks new opportunities for businesses. By prioritising people and the planet alongside profit, you can make smarter decisions that benefit all aspects without sacrificing one for the other.

Dr Cripps emphasises that "systems are interconnected, so we must tap into our emotional intelligence and intuitive wisdom to unlock creativity and find innovative solutions."

This is where the 12 Sustainable Mindset principles come into play.

The 12 Sustainability Mindset Principles

In a world constantly throwing curveballs, how do you ensure business success, innovation, and creativity while tackling sustainability challenges? Say hello to the 12 Sustainability Mindset Principles.

Developed by Isabel Rimanoczy, which stems from the United Nations PRME (Principles for Responsible Management Education) initiative launched in 2007.

These principles serve as a roadmap, guiding you through complex environmental and social issues while reshaping how you think, work, and lead.

The 12 Sustainability Mindset Principles empower you to make purpose-driven decisions and embrace effective leadership by providing a framework for addressing these challenges.

Organised into four key areas – Ecological Worldview, Systemic Perspective, Emotional and Spiritual Intelligence – these principles help us grasp planetary challenges, acknowledge your personal contributions, and appreciate interconnected thinking and long-term perspectives.

Here's a breakdown of the full list of Sustainability Mindset Principles:

  • Eco-literacy: Learn about the environment and its interconnectedness. Understand how your actions impact the world.
  • My Contribution: Identify your unwitting contributions to global problems. Take responsibility and make positive changes.
  • Long-Term Thinking: Consider the future, not just the present or near future.
  • Flow in Cycles: Respect natural cycles when making decisions and understand that life moves in cycles.
  • Both/And Thinking: Seek creative solutions that include both options, leading to fair decisions for all involved.
  • Interconnectedness: Value diversity and connections between all things for more inclusive and sustainable choices.
  • Creativity and Innovation: Trust your intuition and creativity to find innovative solutions to problems.
  • Reflection: Pause and think before making decisions, allowing for better choices and learning experiences.
  • Self-Awareness: Know your values and motivations, ensuring your actions align with what's important to you.
  • Purpose: Discover what matters to you and the difference you want to make, motivating purposeful actions.
  • Oneness with Nature: Recognise your connection to nature and all living beings, fostering a harmonious relationship with the environment and others.
  • Mindfulness: Practice being present and focused, increasing awareness of your feelings and leading to better decisions.

Embracing these principles, you can collectively create a lasting impact on our planet and future generations, ensuring businesses thrive in a VUCA world while contributing positively to sustainability.

The Mindful Business Movement

In our fast-paced business world, getting caught up in the daily grind and focusing on profits and personal success is easy.

However, there's a growing movement connecting conscious capitalism, emotions, sustainability, and profit, which deserves our attention. Adopting this mindset creates meaningful change for businesses, society and the planet.

Emotions are vital in addressing sustainability challenges, but fatigue and feeling overwhelmed can stifle our creativity and drive. Many dream of making a difference in areas like climate change or education but face hurdles like low pay, work overload, and burnout. A focus on profit often gets in the way, preventing us from diving into sustainability projects.

Enter conscious capitalism

Conscious Capitalism is a game-changer that combines the best of capitalism with a mindful approach. This modern economic system promotes a higher purpose beyond the pursuit of profit.

It encourages businesses to benefit all stakeholders, not just shareholders. By integrating sustainability and social responsibility, conscious capitalism addresses your emotional needs while ensuring long-term success.

So, why should this matter to anyone involved in business?

Shifting from a purely profit-driven mindset to conscious capitalism creates a stronger connection between your work, emotions and overall impact.

You create a more emotionally satisfying work environment when prioritising conscious capitalism and sustainability. You feel more valued and empowered, leading to increased motivation and engagement in sustainability projects.

Generation Z values working for companies with a positive purpose. Ignoring this growing sentiment could pose a risk for companies.

For example, Dr. Cripps mentioned a website developed by recent Oxford Brookes alumni that allows graduates to easily compare organisational CSR reports when job hunting, demonstrating Gen Z's desire to incorporate sustainability into their career paths.

From "What Is" to "What If"

The sustainability mindset encompasses thought and action, leading to decisions that benefit the greater good.

It involves understanding carbon literacy, recognising its impact, and making small daily changes while holding businesses accountable for doing the same.

Leaders embracing these values avoid greenwashing and foster flourishing businesses. Shaping personal beliefs within an organisational context can transform the entire culture.

With a sustainability mindset, you can tackle world challenges collectively. It lays the foundation for a sustainable future through personal growth, emotional depth, and purpose cultivation.

Integrating these principles into your life and business decisions is how you make a more meaningful impact. So seize this moment and use the sustainability mindset to create a better world for the progress and benefit of all.

Missed the session? Here's the replay.