020 - Carol Sanford: The Regenerative Business

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Welcome to episode 20 of Masters of Regeneration Radio: The Regenerative Business with Carol Sanford

Our guest today is Carol Sanford, she has worked with Fortune 500 and “rock star entrepreneurs” for nearly forty years—creating significant evolution in financial effectiveness, meaningful market contribution, and transformation of communities and ecosystems. She contracted with many colleagues to participate in these events and used the events with clients to develop people in working with the technology based on living systems. 

Carol is the author of The Responsible Entrepreneur; Four Game-Changing Archetypes for Founders, Leaders, and Impact Investors, The Responsible Business: Reimagining Sustainability and Success, and most recently, The Regenerative Business: Redesign Work, Cultivate Human Potential, Achieve Extraordinary Outcomes.

What separates us from animals and the natural world? What unites us?

Do you ever ask yourself these two fundamental questions?

Here’s how I see it: the oldest language and text in the world, is the genetic code,

and there is clearly language all over the world, in millions of forms, there is communication

and information flows between all living things. Then came our species, and over eons, we developed this intricate form of language outside of ourselves. We pulled knowledge from deep inside our bodies and brought it out, we created the alphabet, writing, numbers, and the sciences that allow us to understand and make sense of how the world actually works, around and inside us.

We are made of language. The difference between us and the natural world is that we took part of that knowledge encoded in our body, and externalized it. We created human language and writing and brought the experience of understanding to the realm of human reason. And we glorified reason, this tool in our heads, in our prefrontal cortex. A wonderful process that has taken place over thousands of years and also disconnected us from body wisdom and more subtle forms of understanding all the communication happening through us and within us.

We are vessels of biological information flows, temporarily carrying genetic memory, environmental cues in our body, and passing them on to our children if we have any. What messages are we sending into the world? What messages aren’t we hearing?

One thing we know for sure is that we define reality, and create our own reality through language. The words we use, the definitions we have for those words, and how those become ideas, and then collective belief systems are the most powerful tool on Earth (well maybe except geological scales of spacetime that make us look like tiny specs of dust in comparison). But, as Yuval Harari says, the objective reality of our planet today depends exclusively on the subjective reality of humans. So what stories are we telling ourselves, as a species?

Today it matters more than ever to know yourself, and understand yourself both as an individual and as a species. And when the old systems, and the elders of the world are failing, we must collectively turn to the wisest elder of all: the natural world.

I saw the other day this awesome post by Black Jaguar, White Tiger: “The whole Universe except Humans communicate through Silence. Well, we do too, but we acquired an external installation that we call mind and it’s so noisy that it doesn’t let us pay attention to the Universe commands. That mind that we protect, defend and analyze is not ours, through Meditation techniques this can be realized. And when it is realized “Enlightenment” is what takes place, or again, realized. I call it The Ultimate Joke, because after so much effort through different lives, one finally realizes what one has always been, or more precisely, what one is not. When you see the mess that Humans have created it is only a reflection of that acquired mind. This is why babies are so magnetic, because they haven’t acquired it yet, and also, why Buddhas are even more magnetic, because they have transcended this external mind and have become wise. All those Animal migrations in Africa or the Monarch Butterfly crossing the continent are a product of this Silent Knowledge that Humans don’t pay attention to. And when we do, we call it luck, Magic or sixth sense. It’s just our Nature. We have to go back to Nature...”

The essence of life is process. If the processing of material-energy and information ends, life also ends. The defining characteristic of life is the ability to maintain, for a significant period, a steady state in which the entropy (or disorder) within the system is significantly lower than its non-living surroundings.

I know, it’s hard in the city to realize you are part of cyclical biological information flows, that you are a process, in a dynamic living system.

You don’t see concrete opening up to sunlight at dawn, or traffic lights following the path of the sun throughout the day. You don’t see a living concrete ground absorbing minerals, water, nutrients and toxins. You don’t see the billboards responding to the sweet breeze or fungi in the hard ground decomposing digesting the piles of trash in the city. You don’t see the city lights pulsating to call the females for reproduction or hear the honking cars and police sirens calling their mates in the sweet embrace of the night.

The city however, is talking to you at all times, claiming your attention and entraining you to consume. The whole system, social networks especially, uses conditioning techniques of conductive psychology to own your behavior. It takes a lot of willpower to resist because perhaps you think your self worth depends on what you buy, or something outside yourself. Wake up. Your self worth lies in your ability to love yourself and all living things from the inside out. Your self worth lies in your right and response-ability to learn how life actually works, and to be a conscious protector of the natural world.

There is a global regenerative revolution happening on Earth. It started about 50 years ago but

only in the last 10 years the word regeneration, has taken centerstage.

The world needs regeneration, it couldn’t be more clear, or so we think. Yet there are many perspectives to consider:

  1. regeneration of oceans and soil

  2. regeneration of our human management of natural resources (better called by scientists ecosystem benefits that nature gives us for free)

  3. regeneration of our understanding: what does it mean to be a homo sapiens today, and how do we design business cultures that not only provide change to our users and customers, but also to our team and our planet?

There comes the regenerative business and the responsible entrepreneur: a new breed of humans seeking to transform industries and even society itself. They challenge and refine cultural assumptions, laws, regulations, and event the processes of governance. This requires them to do and think far beyond what is usually required of business leaders.

Responsible Entrepreneurs, individuals who want to use business itself as an instrument for significant change, seek the bold, sweeping moves that can benefit society nations, ecosystems and the planet as a whole. They think systemically about their value-adding processes, make their work increasingly beneficial to society beyond philanthropy, and do this as a direct result of their business activities.

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Sending you all love and gratitude, and a lot of patience and perseverance. Thank you for listening.

Tomas Reyes