Editorial newsletter Belgian-Portuguese Chamber of Commerce (CCBP) December 2023

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This morning, amidst the quiet and dark streets of Lisbon, I found myself pondering the editorial for our monthly newsletter. As my thoughts swirled, I gazed at leafless trees, realizing a profound truth: “The problem is not the problem!”. The problem is an opportunity. The problem is not to be solved, the opportunity is to be found. Writing the editorial is a chance to express, inspire, learn, and engage in dialogue I concluded.

Nature, too, thrives not by solving problems but by seizing opportunities. Winter, far from a hindrance, is Nature’s way of conserving energy for optimal growth later. Attempting to counterattack the problems posed by winter would drain the energy of trees and plants, jeopardizing their ability to thrive, likely resulting in their inability to survive as a species.

What if we apply this mindset to our challenges, viewing them as opportunities to thrive rather than problems to solve? What if we would stop fighting against problems? What if we train ourselves to find opportunities to thrive? Easy said, one can argue. No, we can start today and we can immediately start at scale, i.e. in the business we are in. In every business, we can foster regenerative practices independently of what the outside world asks. Rather than battling persistent issues, like the war for talent, we can build businesses that shape thinking and collaboration.

Many companies limit human potential, emphasizing control over collaboration. What if we redesigned businesses around the full potential of people? By embracing critical thinking and personal mastery, businesses can evolve into regenerative entities. Companies can become places where people learn to think systemic, learn to see what the other can’t see, learn to bring the emergent patterns and tendencies of an evolving world at surface. The qualities of such companies lie routed in wholeness, potential, reciprocity, authenticity, nestedness, all key elements to build a regenerative organization. Such organizations will be able to enable its people (not employees anymore) to effectively address the challenges presented by today’s world. Such companies will set the stage for people and groups to proactively direct change in themselves, in the lives of the people they interact with and finally in democratic societies as a whole. Businesses, people, Nature and democracy are interconnected—this is an opportunity, not a problem.

As business leaders we have the responsibility and the possibility to create such organizations. As such business leaders, beyond pursuing success, hold a key to democracy’s health. A shift in mindset within a company can ripple into society, impacting our democracy positively. Innovating our business models becomes a contribution to a democratic world where everyone, regardless of age, strength, or background, finds their place. This shift, starting at the business level, has the potential to create a positive narrative for future generations, a narrative we so much need. A narrative that can be started by the business leaders.

Present times may seem chaotic and unsettling, yet they also offer us the chance to reshape how we think, act and live together. Let’s embrace these opportunities and build businesses that foster the thriving of all life on Earth.

It is an opportunity, not a problem.

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Max Planck, Quantum Theorist and Nobel laureate.

pIEt Haerens