This was the alarming phrase in the advertising material for a public lecture I attended a few years ago in São Paulo by Al Gore, organized by the American Chamber of Commerce. Extremely challenging. Certainly provocative. Maybe not too exaggerated.
The Oscar-winning documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth" was breaking sales records in the genre. He had made more than 1,400 presentations on the topic in the previous two years to full houses worldwide. The question was would we only listen to or act on its implications.
Whatever the case, we live in a time of fundamental transformation never before seen in history. The political, economic, technological, cultural and climatic part of the same package of different winds. Together they create a huge hurricane that are moving individuals, organizations and even countries in a constant process of redefinition, adjustment and repositioning. Save yourself if you can has become the rule of the game.
At a corporate level, many of the companies that proudly featured in the list of the biggest and best in Fortune magazine just a decade or two, have not survived the storms of the present time. Millions of people have been thrown into the unemployment lines, caused largely by "downsizing" and "rightsizings" endless. The unemployment rate for people under 25 in Greece and Spain reached more than 50% in 2012. At the individual level, we have had to develop new and much more complex skills, just to keep our jobs. This is something that we would not have imagined twenty years.
The golden age of industry has died. Despite the fact that the business community has specialized in creating jobs and wealth, it has also contributed to a very forceful to malfunctions of the systems of our world. The call to stop pretending that everything is just 'business as usual' is ringing in our ears. There is a real possibility that the search for business leaders more sensitive to sustainability issues may be too late.
The mad rush to the survival of companies and countries during the last twenty years has left shameful evidence of wars and conflicts, a biosphere seriously threatened, more and more people humiliated by unemployment and/or economic exclusion. Many of those who have managed to stay reasonably employed see themselves acting against their values and principles, they have overworked and stressed by lives which have become hallucinatingly rapid and compressed. It's time to look deeply at ourselves and our values.
(excerpt from the book "O Espírito do Leader, Vol. 1', Ken O´Donnell, Editora Integrare, São Paulo)