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Move On Up

SEPT 3, 2020

Heraclitus, the Greek philosopher, said: “Change is the only constant in life.” It is hard not to agree. Some changes are great, others more questionable. Working from home has been a new situation for many of us. I am surprised how well this has worked out.

In 2020, the Earth Overshoot Day, the date when humanity's demand for ecological resources and services exceeds what Earth can regenerate, was August 22nd, compared to July 29th in 2019. This was the first year with an improvement in a long time due to lockdowns around the world. Many of us have contributed to this improvement, perhaps without thinking about it. We didn’t even have much of a choice.

The travel ban and working from the home office may actually have improved quality of life for many of us. We have shared more meals, slept better and longer, worked out more frequently (outdoors), listened to new podcasts and tried new recipes. However, I can also imagine that for others, working from home has been more questionable.

But in any event, it has given us all a great opportunity to listen to music. Together. Recently I wrote about “moving in” - how moving in with someone represents a significant change, a change that requires the need to compromise. To let go of some of the cutlery and agree that one of the favorite sofas had to be put up for sale.

One of my favorite tunes is not really about “moving in”, but more about “moving on up”. It’s “Move On Up” by Curtis Mayfield. I love this tune; it makes me smile, sing and dance. The lyrics are hopeful, optimistic and tell us not to give up. Carrying on might not be easy, you may feel that you are misunderstood, but in the end ”your folks might understand you, by and by” and you are ready to “move on up, toward your destination”.

I discussed with one of my colleagues today, how to speak to our colleagues’ hearts, and not only to their brains. Leadership is frequently about making people do what they otherwise wouldn’t do by themselves. To do that, it is important to be fact-based and analytical, but I don’t think this is sufficient. We also need to speak with the voice of the dreamer:

“Move on up, and keep on wishing
Remember your dream is your only scheme
So keep on pushing”

Our dream is our only scheme. Well said. When the world is challenging and change is the only constant, perhaps it is more important than ever to hang on to that dream and make it the scheme. Perhaps the dream is the purpose we are looking for, whether it is combating climate change, creating equal opportunities for all or making sure that our businesses are sustainable and work towards something bigger than profits. It is no longer enough to do things right, it is important to do good.

I am listening to “Move On Up” again. We can only imagine the struggles when Curtis Mayfield navigated America in the 1960s. His song brought hope and smiles. In these times, no matter if you think recent changes in the work environment have been positive or negative, let’s remember that setbacks and obstacles will be overcome:

“You can pass the test
Just move on up, to a greater day
With just a little faith
If you put your mind to it you can surely do it”.

I encourage you to get as inspired as I do by listening to “Move on up”.