In the first article in this series I provided an introduction to Simon Sinek’s book The Infinite Game and asserted that providing clean, affordable, reliable, and safe electricity to every human being on this planet meets the definition of what he calls a Just Cause.

You’ll recall from the book (or from my previous article) that advancing a Just Cause is one of the essential practices for any leader who wants to adopt an infinite mindset. There are five criteria for a Just Cause:

  1. For something
  2. Inclusive
  3. Service-oriented
  4. Resilient
  5. Idealistic

Let’s see what Simon says about the first criteria and put it in the context of clean + affordable + reliable + safe electricity.

Leaders can easily motivate people to fight against something. The powerful emotions of fear and anger rise to the top when we are turned against things. We see it all the time in politics but also in other spheres such as fighting crime…or fighting poverty…or fighting hunger. But that sets up the cause as something winnable and that implies finite game thinking.

There are plenty of examples of this to be found with respect to energy. Fight the carbon monster! Fight dirty energy!

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Simon would point out that these are examples of vilifying and demonizing and that they that focus our attention on things that elicit powerful but negative reactions. For me, the carbon monster image is the stuff of nightmares – a cross between the scary human-killing machines in the Terminator movies and the Imperial Walkers from Star Wars. And I’m not sure that water vapor coming from a cooling tower qualifies as “carbon pollution” but it certainly stirs up negative emotions.

I agree with Simon Sinek’s assertion that being for something is about inspiration. It’s affirmative and optimistic. In Simon’s words “Being for somethings ignites the human spirit and fills us with hope and optimism. It ignites the hope that lives within us all. Being for focuses our attention on the unbuilt future in order to spark our imaginations.”

Fortunately, positive examples with respect to clean energy abound as well. I like the message SAS sent in early August when we announced our net-zero carbon emissions goal. Note the optimistic and affirmative tone of these excerpts from the press release:

  • “The company’s path to zero carbon requires continued investments in research, the highest-efficiency AI-enabled energy technologies, smart sensors, renewable energy, electric vehicle infrastructure, and LEED best practices.
  • It also includes the application of advanced analytics to make decisions about how best to reduce SAS’ footprint and operate more sustainably.
  • The company is committed to establishing science-based targets and aligning with the UN Global Compact and We Mean Business coalition to embrace a “green growth” strategy.”

Enel Green Power’s website greets you with this:

  • “Renewable energy for a sustainable future. We seek out energy around the globe: in the power of wind and water, in the heat of the sun, in the depths of the earth and, above all, in people.”

What an inspiring and uplifting statement! By the way, people unfamiliar with the energy industry might mistake the “depths of the earth” phrase as a reference to fossil fuels but of course it’s a reference to geothermal energy.

And what do you see on the homepage of the Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster?

  • “Innovation. Talent. Collaboration. The Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster (RTCC) is an industry-funded, industry-led initiative of business, government, academic and nonprofit leaders focused on accelerating cleantech innovation and our cleantech economy.”

SAS is proud to be one of the founding members of the RTCC and a few weeks ago I had the privilege of representing SAS in the second of a multi-part Making Energy Work webinar series. The title of the webinar was “North Carolina’s Role in the International Clean Energy Market” and it was sponsored by the Australian Embassy and the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association (NCSEA). I was honored and delighted to share a virtual stage with Amy Philbrook of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), Georgina Harrowell of the Australian Trade and Investment Commission, Chris Chung of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, Matt Abele of NCSEA, and Emmit Owens of the RTCC.

Simon Sinek would have loved the webinar. It was definitely “for something” and in its focus on innovation and talent – and collaboration between Australia and North Carolina – it was affirmative and optimistic. Follow this link to watch a replay.

If you need inspiration about being positive when it comes to advocating for clean, affordable, reliable, and safe electricity I invite you to visit a certain bench at Cottesloe Beach just outside of Perth, Australia that I believe Simon Sinek would love. It’s the image you saw at the beginning of the article. It’s a nice bench with a great view of the Indian Ocean…but what makes it really special is the plaque on it:

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When we talk about clean energy, let’s be inspired by Jenni Armstrong and change the air in the rooms we walk into – whether the rooms are physical or virtual.

In the next article in this series, I’ll look at how the Just Cause of providing clean + affordable + reliable + safe electricity not only is inclusive – but must be. If you believe that people of low and moderate incomes should be able to participate in clean energy then we have something in common.