Episode #119 The Business of Awakening: Finding a generative future within our businesses with Garry Turner
If we are to create a regenerative future we’d be proud to leave to the generations that come after us, how can we shift the extractive, profit-based business model that imprisons our industries? What would happen if we unleashed the creative potential of those who are caught in a model that is no longer fit for purpose? Insights from Garry Turner, industrialist, businessman, thought leader – and change agent.
Garry has spent most of his professional life as an international product manager looking after £20m of business within a £3bn business within the chemical industry. Until 2018, he was locked into the life of job/mortgage/car/KPIs and all that goes with external validation. And then he woke up – and realised that any sense of meaning and purpose was missing. His journey since then is one of opening and awakening taken in the most grounded way, so that he can express fully what it means to be human at this time of total transformation. He still works in the same job in the same industry, but now he runs a podcast dedicated to human transformation, and describes himself as a ‘strategic advisor and thinking partner’, offering coaching to others on the same path. He spends his days working towards a generative future we’d be proud to leave behind.
In this profoundly moving conversation, we delve deeply into his journey, from his surgery for testicular cancer, through a growing awareness of the change he can make in the world, to a place now where he is actively engaging in many different ways with people and ideas that can bring about the transformation we need to see.
Manda: My guest this week is Garry Turner. I came across Garry on the Climate Action Lab, organised by Hawkwood towards the back end of last year. Garry was one of the presenters and as you will hear in brief, he has a remarkable life story. Garry was and is immersed in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry, which he freely acknowledges is one of the most extractive and damaging on the planet. And for many years, decades, Garry was an integral part of that. Until the waking up process that he describes and the journey that he has been on since, which you will hear about in the podcast. For me, listening to that was one of the most inspiring and hopeful moments of recent months. Because if people in the depths of our industries can make these changes and then spread them, there is hope for the rest of the world. So people of the podcast, please welcome Garry Turner.
Manda: So, Garry Turner, Strategic Advisor and thinking partner, welcome to Accidental Gods on this glorious spring morning. How is it wherever you are?
Garry: Yeah. So I’m based in Kent to the south of the UK and it is suitably spring like and beautiful. Thanks for the invitation today.
Manda: You’re more than welcome. So we met on a Hawkwood event called Climate Action Lab back in, I think the autumn of last year. And you were one of the speakers. And I was so moved and engaged by the story of how you came from being what sounded like deeply embedded in British industry to being someone who is now a strategic advisor, thinking partner, coach, spiritual advisor, I think poet and TED speaker. A lot of different things, all of which are walking that fascinating edge between business as usual and future business, in ways that will bring us a generative world. Can you give us the edited highlights of how you came from one to the other?
Garry: Yeah, I think the shorter version, Manda, today would really be… I see it as an arc. So it’s an arc from asleep, fully asleep to waking up to almost fully conscious. And if you see that arc, that first part of that arc was 39 years of my life. I’m only 45 now. So for the majority of my life, I was completely asleep. What I mean by that, I was awake, of course, living life, doing the job. But really, I was asleep. I wasn’t connecting the dots. I didn’t understand the impact of my choices, etc. That really was the first 39 years of my life until I had what I affectionately call a midlife awakening. It wasn’t a crisis. It really was a spiritual emptiness. I felt hollow. I had the six figure salary. Had the jobs, had the title. Had everything that the social system and society taught me mattered. Had it all and I felt empty. Completely what I now know to be spiritual bankruptcy.
Manda: And just before we go any further, how did you recognise that? Because I, on the odd occasions I go into worlds outside my bubble, I meet people and I look them in the eye and I see, I think and it may be my projection, but I see that emptiness. And they’re not aware of it. And it’s very hard from the outside to suggest that that might be the case because they have everything that they think they want. They have the car and they have the office with the window or the 9 to 5, whatever. How did you become aware of that?
Garry: Honestly, I can remember the moment in my body as we share this again. It was just.. It was the difference between fear and curiosity in that moment. It was as simple as that. I got really curious. I was like, What is that? Why do I feel so empty? Why? Why is that? That’s really interesting.
Manda: And had you met someone who was less empty? Had somebody provided a role model or had you read a book or a poem or heard a song? Had something triggered it?
Garry: Not particularly.
Garry: Not particularly. I guess it was very early in my… I’ve always been interested in, you know, understanding myself. I’ve always been a pretty self aware man. Always. But I wouldn’t use those words in the past. And there was something. It was almost like something happened that day that said, right, now you’re ready to go exploring.
Manda: Okay. And then in the story that I heard at Homewood. You then had quite a big life threatening illness that then presumably took you further on the curve to awakening. Can you tell us a bit about that?
Garry: Yeah, sure. So going through that awakening piece, there’s a lot, a lot around, to answer the previous question a little bit as well, was around getting into things like HR, human resources, learning development, organisational design. So I was really doing all the people stuff within the corporate space. At the same time, and by the way, I want to frame this as important. I’ve been in the same job for over 13 years. Wow. So the point at which I started this personal awakening journey, I was in the same job and I am still today in the same corporate job.
Garry: Just as a contextual frame.
Manda: In the same corporation. Are you in the same job?
Garry: Partly, yes.
Manda: Wow. But you must be doing it very differently now.
Manda: Okay, so let’s put that to one side and look at the very differently in a moment. But let’s look a little bit more at the journey as you moved on your arc.
Garry: Yeah. So again, so really peopled up, like I say, on, on the culture, people learning development side of things. And where the life threatening illness came in is, is actually almost two years ago. It was on March the 19th, 2020, as the pandemic hit. I was getting my right testicle removed as my… And this is really, really pertinent and I shared this at Hawkwood. I had my first real experience of the pressure we’re putting on the planet in my own body. My right testicle grew from its regular size to being eight x that size in less than eight weeks, before it was removed.
Manda: Eight weeks to an 800% increase. Wow. You could measure that daily then. That’s oh, my gosh.
Garry: It was it was the weight and size of a hockey ball when it was removed.
Manda: Wow. Right. And right at the start of lockdown. So hospitals were beginning to become quite difficult places because they were having to find ventilators for everybody else at the point when we were still ventilating everyone who had COVID. Well, and how did that impact you in terms of the journey that you were taking?
Garry: So it’s a really interesting question, actually, because between that start of that awakening arc, six years ago and the cancer surgery and diagnosis two years ago, I’d also started investing in myself in terms of having coaches. So who can I actually get support with as part of this journey? That curiosity that had awoken in me like, I can’t do that on my own. Who can I potentially get support from to help me join some dots? And what was really interesting that first coach, and I think this is very relevant, pointed to emotional suppression in me. So in 2018, she looked at a timeline exercise with me. And what I realised is that my adolescent bullying age 12/13, when I was beat up repeatedly by a group of boys, I’d never handled that. I’d never dealt with that trauma within my being. And that was a massive catalyst for me. Again, it’s amazing when you look at this timeline, Manda, that you realise that actually each of those experiences now are lessons to be embraced. Now I’ve started to go, Okay, I don’t need to be afraid of that lesson now.
Manda: Right. Were you having therapy as well as coaching, or were you doing what I would consider to be therapeutic work within a coaching space?
Garry: It’s really interesting. So I did not have formal therapy, shall we say. But I would say that, yeah, every person I’ve worked with there has been a a more spiritual therapeutic lens to that coaching, by design. So it’s not just been straight business coaching or what I would call general coaching. It’s very, very much with this spiritual lens, this energetic lens.
Manda: And because I come from a position of profound ignorance in terms of business coaching, my experience of coaching is that it’s always had a spiritual and personal lens. Is that not the case with ordinary business coaching, generally speaking?
Garry: In my opinion, through my lens on the world, it can be quite different depending on the person you deal with. Yeah. It can be quite even directive at times depending on who you’re working with.
Manda: Right. Interesting. Okay, let’s avoid that because that would be a whole other rabbit hole. So let’s go back a little bit to you had surgery two years ago now. Pretty much almost to the day, I would say. How have you processed the healing coming out of that, in terms of your concept of yourself and your place in the world? And if we extend it wider, your understanding of what it is to be human and what it is to be male. I think this is something that at the moment we tend to to step around because we’re all re-engaging in varying ways with the spectrum of gender and the spectrum of sexuality and the spectrum of what it is to be human. And I wonder where you find yourself in that sense of re understanding things.
Garry: I love that question, Manda, because re understanding, if I put my word on that would be a remembering. I genuinely feel that’s been one of the biggest shifts actually, since I had the surgery, is I have an accelerated sense and embodied level increasingly of what it means to be human. So what I mean by that is, for example, when the tragic murder of George Floyd, I cried for three days. I’m 5000 miles away from that person. It’s like, why would I cry if there wasn’t an energetic felt connection to that episode? And I’ve had multiple examples of that in the last two years since the surgery, where I’ve had very significant bodily reactions to certain things. And this links then to my current guide. We call her a guide; Samantha in South East Asia. She’s been working with me for 18 months to increasingly not suppress, not be afraid of those feelings going on your body. To really sit with them and just try and understand what they’re telling you. So, yes, very that’s been a huge shift for me the last 18 months.
Manda: Brilliant. And just for me to be clear, this is a human embodied person guide, not a spirit guide?
Garry: Correct yes. This is a human being based in South East Asia.
Manda: Right. So she would be a coach kind of person. But but we’re using guide as a different moniker.
Garry: Yeah. Very, very intentionally. Because her work is actually as an urban regenerist. She’s an urban regenerator. And she doesn’t want… She’s very much answered my direct call for guidance. So the work we’re doing is not something that she advertises. It’s something that energetically I sought from her based on the interactions we’d had.
Manda: Fantastic. Excellent. So. You’re breaking a lot of the stereotypes of the straight, white Western man, which is, you know, never complain, never explain, don’t be vulnerable. And that vulnerability and strength are not co-existant. And you seem to me one of the most grounded, centred people I have met. And so can you say a little bit more about what it feels like from the inside to allow feeling to happen without being afraid of it?
Garry: There’s one word I’m going to use which may sound grandiose for you and your listeners, but it’s freedom. There’s an absolute expansiveness and freedom on the other side of allowing yourself to feel. And what I mean by that, I want to really clarify this. Something I learnt very quickly about three years ago in my journey, is emotion, feelings, they’re just data points in the moment as to what’s going on in your body and in your experience of life. None of them are causal. None of them will stay with you any more than you allow them to stay with you.
Garry: And I think that’s really been a critical learning for me, is that letting go, which links to vulnerability. Letting go of the emotion, letting go of the feeling, but first sitting in it is so, so important.
Manda: Yes. Really. Yes. So you allow it to flow through. And when it’s gone, it’s gone. And then there is a new feeling to take its place. And the excitement then is observing what feelings arise in any given moment. Beautiful. And so with this freedom, you’re still working in the chemical industry, in a huge part of what is our current structure, which we could call the matrix. So we’ll go to concepts of Matrix as a metaphor in a bit. But I’m really curious to know you’re in the same job. You’ve clearly undergone extraordinary transformation. And so I am assuming, and this may be my projection, that your way of doing your job has similarly transformed. And I’m wondering what impact that has had on your business and colleagues and on the world of business as a whole in the UK and and around the world.
Garry: So there’s a couple of responses I’ve got. So the immediate one, me as Garry, human being Garry. My ability to navigate stress ups and downs, the general busyness of life that we have, particularly in the corporate space, it is I don’t use this lightly, it’s 100 x easier for me to navigate. I do not sit there worrying about the next KPI, the next report. Who’s going to be chasing me? What does somebody say? All of those fears have completely disappeared. Completely. Now, that’s not an arrogance. That’s not me saying I’m some big who I am. We are all this. I’m just remembering that I am so much more than all of those things that I’ve been educated matter.
Manda: Right. And yet you’re still doing your job. You’re still in your job. They haven’t decided that an unafraid person is unfit to do the job. How has that rippled out? Are you surrounded now by people who are similarly unafraid?
Garry: It’s a really good question. I’m actually… I would say no, I think I am seeing the fear in others much more easily and clearly. But I am, Yes, having more I’d say more rich dialogue.
Garry: Which is, bear in mind, the industry that I’m part of is one of the most extractive and is causing the most harm globally. And I think this is a little bit of a ripple effect in the last year in particular has been. I’m able to approach and invite a different type of dialogue within the corporate space than ‘A’ I was even aware of or ‘B’ able to hold, a couple of years ago. And what I mean by that is I’m now finding a lot more people within my own organisation, and particularly the wider sector, that are far more knowing of exactly where we are. I didn’t think they were aware, Manda. I thought these people were completely asleep like I was. But there’s a lot more people in waking up, but totally paralysed.
Manda: Can you say more about that? So they’re aware, but then they’ve frozen in not having agency to act on their awareness? Is that what you’re saying?
Garry: Yeah. Back to the remembering piece. They’re realising what’s going on in the outside world. They’re sensed into it. They’re realising. But then the fears kick in; of if I speak up, will I lose my job? I’ve got a family to look after. And I’ve gone through that myself.
Manda: Right. And you’ve still got your job and the family to look after?
Garry: I’ve still got a job, still got a family. All of that stuff. But it doesn’t mean I’m blase. You know, I’m very conscious of where can I play? Like, it’s almost like playing an instrument. Like, what’s the chord I can play based on this context in this moment? Okay. There’s the group HR manager. There’s the future CEO. There’s the ABC. And this is not about manipulation or influence, actually. It’s very much about how can I bring the whole of me into that interaction?
Manda: Right. It’s about being authentic in the moment and then recognising your authenticity at whatever level they are capable of doing that. Is that…am I understanding that?
Garry: Beautiful summary, yes.
Manda: Are you finding that the people you’re connecting with who are beginning to wake up, but are still frozen, are you able to help them unfreeze and find agency that can then make a difference so that they too can begin to feel as if they’re working with integrity and are being authentic? Is that a thing that’s happening?
Garry: Brilliant question. So, yes, it is. And there’s something, if I may state. I went through a regenerative design lab 18 months ago, and I have a bold vision for the development of a cross-sector, cross-functional, conscious chemicals community. Wow. 5 million human beings that have lost their fear that are able to share knowledge, insight and wisdom across one of the most extractive industries on the planet. But they do that very much grassroots. It’s not about IP. They’re not trying to undercut total abundance. How do we solve the world’s challenges by leveraging collective intelligence across the sector. Something that goes completely against the prevailing paradigm. Very small starting point, but I’m already in dialogue with chief sustainability officers, a couple of CEOs, heads of human resource in different pockets of the industry. So it’s almost very much I see it as seed germination. That’s very much where we’re at that very early stage: there is another way. Who are those people that are willing to engage in that in that other way that we’re going to co-create?
Manda: Brilliant. And then one hopes that we get exponential growth. This is in a way, if we move the metaphor to a dam across a very big river, if you drill tiny holes in it, it doesn’t take too many tiny holes for the dam to shatter. So. Where in your vision, if we were to move to the point where the exponential growth has occurred, however long that takes, do you have a felt sense of how your industry could be? If I were to take this into Thrutopia and we were to say, okay, so I’m writing a novel set 2030 and this is in the process of happening and I want to create some characters who are finding the struggles, this isn’t all going to be Pollyanna dancing through the roses by any means. But they’re heading in a direction towards a world that we would be happy to leave to our children. How is it evolving?
Garry: There’s two big key points. One is commons based resource allocation. And what I mean by that is we are moving to a world over the next decade where it’s not about corporates owning assets, particularly in the Global South, which is the case today. It’s about giving back those resources to those indigenous folk, those that actually live on the land and then communally going, right, what do we need where in the world, based on that particular situation. Rather than corporate greed and who can dominate and sort of take over for over consumptive northern assets. Very much moving, and again the critical part, and it’s not actually Pollyanna for me; I can visualise it in my mind and in my body. Like it’s totally possible. 100% possible. And if I may follow up very quickly?
Manda: Please do.
Garry: Think about the last 24 months. We’ve had unconditional basic income in the UK: free money given to people. It can happen. It’s happened. Look what’s happening with the Ukraine and Russia situation. European finance ministers in a matter of days came together to put in place sanctions. So why don’t we cancel Third World debt tomorrow?
Manda: Yes, well, that’s… Yes. Why do we not? It is the key question. We know that we could. That’s a big question. Okay. Let’s park that for a minute, because you said there were two things. And the first is changing corporate assets to collective assets. What was number two?
Garry: The number two is what we’re speaking about, I believe in this conversation. Is the inner work required, particularly by folks that look and sound like me, white global north folk that are currently in control of resource, of financial services, of big corporations. I want them to experience the freedom I’m now experiencing.
Manda: Right. And that was my next question. Because every time I speak to people on this podcast, we get to a Commons based answer. And as a novelist, trying to write a way through to that, I struggle with how can I, in a plausible way, create a world where that is happening that doesn’t feel Pollyannaish? How do we get to the kinds of people who do look like us and whose power and prestige and sense of self depend entirely on an economic system that continues to grow where they are the benefits of that growth. Because we did have universal basic income in the UK and we have a chancellor who is essentially the political wing of Goldman Sachs, who shut it down very quickly because it didn’t fit an ideology of scarcity, separation and powerlessness that has created the system that we’re in. So I have a new question that is targeting this directly. How long do you think we have got before we hit tipping points that are irreversible?
Garry: It’s very much a prediction, but I would say that 2030 marker that you’re writing towards, I think it’s then.
Manda: So we have eight years. So in the next eight years, how are you and I going to help the people currently in power? You know, Putin, everybody is.. Let’s say the conversations that I’m having locally, everybody basically thinks Putin is the problem. And I’m trying to have conversations saying the system that allows someone like Putin to get there is the problem. And he could vanish off the face of the planet tomorrow and the problem would still be the same. Someone else would take his place. I remember friends in Zimbabwe and we were all going, Mugabe, get rid of Mugabe. And they’re going, No, no, no. You may think Mugabe is bad. You haven’t seen the people who are going to step into his shoes when he goes. They are so much worse. And I had the same when Boris Johnson was under threat here, before his friend in Russia started a war to divert everybody’s attention, is I’m not sure we want to get rid of Johnson because I think the people who take his place could actually be worse. Hard though that may be to understand, that there’s worse still to come. How do we in eight years make the changes that we believe are possible and that need to happen.
Garry: So for me, it is community. That’s the critical part. We need diverse cross sector, cross function. That’s not just repeating it because it’s what I’m working on, but I believe. We’ve only got to look at the last 4 years. There are so many wonderful, well-meaning communities and NGOs doing their separate part, but where are they all joined up? Like, where’s the actual nucleus that drives that energy towards something that’s actually going to make the change that you’re speaking to? So for me, what’s the acupuncture point? Financial services, raw material suppliers? Like we’ve got to get the top leaders within financial services, chemical industry, pharmaceuticals, food manufacturers, even the Bill Gates Foundation, which people may have a question or whatever about. But the point is we’re going to solve these big systemic challenges by getting those people in the room that are actually got the power to influence change. Because, again, we’ve seen it in the last 24 months. It is wholly plausible and possible now. The people have got to be willing to do it.
Manda: Yes. And it’s very interesting. I agree with you totally. And I’m watching Shell with great interest, because Ben van Beurden, who’s the current CEO of Shell, had, I think, a kind of awakening moment similar to you. Where his daughter came home from school and said, Dad, everyone’s saying you’re basically the devil incarnate and what are you doing? And he had to sit down and go, do you trust me? I swear I will make things better. And you can see him trying, really hard. He went to cop. And there’s a fantastic video where he sat on a panel with a young woman called Lauren from Scotland who basically said what his daughter had said, only, I suspect, a lot more pithily, and then got up and took her microphone off and said, I am not sharing a platform with you. And within a couple of weeks of COP ending, Shell had pulled out of the Shetland oilfields. They’re still doing ultrasonic testing off the coast of South Africa that is destroying every whale that it reaches. But they’re trying. And I’m watching with great interest of how long he keeps his job, because when Unilever really started to try, they found that their CEO and various other people were removed. And so when I get into the shamanic work, I start looking at the energetics of this.
Manda: There’s a concept that came to North America called the Wendigo. Are you familiar with this?
Garry: No I’m not.
Manda: So it was it was the bogeyman that North American tribes and various ways of spelling it, but it seemed to be universal taught their children. And the thing about the Wetigo was, it would be for instance a group of people get stuck out in the winter trapped and and the ones who come back are the ones who ate the others. And if we don’t do really quite major spiritual shamanic work with them, the spirit of destruction that inhabited them will begin to spread. And it is one that is extractive and destructive, and it doesn’t have empathy, it doesn’t care. It isn’t connected to the web of life, because in order to survive, they had to shut themselves off from that. So it had the sense of a spiritual virus that was destructive, extractive and separate. That’s scarcity, separation and powerlessness. And the native peoples, apparently, according to the people who told me this, saw the white people arrive and thought this entire culture is Wendigo. What do we do? And they tried to do the containment and the things that you would do if people of your tribe came back. But the people of the tribe were of the tribe, and when you surround them with containment and love and connection, they have the capacity to engage.
Manda: And the white people arrived and we know what happened. The genocide happened and 500 years down the line, we are where we are. And I look at the energetics of what’s happening; of the people waking up, that sense of little sparks of what feels to me like that spring green sunlight through newly unfurled beech leaves of ‘God, yes! The world is alive and we can connect to it’. And I spend quite a lot of my meditation time sitting in that space going, just be that in the world. It’s the only thing that we can do is to be that energy and let it spread. And what happens when I spread that out is, it feels like almost an active agency of the Wendigo going, ‘ha ha, no, don’t worry, we’re so much bigger than you’. And I don’t believe they’re so much bigger. But eight years is a very short time frame to bring the sense of community together. And I wonder if you thought about that in that terms and if we can co-create a sense of how that spring green might spread? How do we bring people together in a co-operative community of communities. Sorry, that was a very big question.
Garry: No, it’s a lovely question. I really follow your flow with it. Because I guess I’m going to point this, again this is new learning for me at both the head and heart level. Is the importance of de-centering ourselves in the North. So what I mean by that is how do we consciously and intentionally censor those that are currently harmed and oppressed by our current system? So I’ll give you a quick example. By joining some dots, I realised that my personal pension I can only invest in two out of 88 are ‘ethical’. And within one of those ethical funds is Rio Tinto, one of the biggest miners.
Manda: No! How did they define that as ethical?
Garry: These are the things we can start to do as individuals. This is the energy, this is the curiosity. It’s like hang on a second! Who gets to make that decision? I’m still yet to get an answer from BlackRock or Aegon. I’ve asked them multiple times and I will continue to ask them, who gets to decide what makes an ethical fund or not? That’s within my agency. I can’t control the outcome, but imagine if you’ve got 2 billion people asking that same question, Manda. So I think this is the point. It’s community and what’s the co-created question that can pierce these different intersection points? So what is the most critical, incisive question for the chemical industry? What’s the most critical, incisive question for financial services? What’s the critical, most incisive question for food? And how do we all co-create what that looks like and then use it as often as we possibly can?
Manda: OK. So if everybody that is awakening in your industry all wrote to BlackRock and went, What the heck are you doing? We’ve got a regenerative, so called pension plan that’s got Rio Tinto in it. How can we have a genuinely… Look, here’s my idea for a genuinely regenerative pension plan. And then you lobby your I am imagining, I don’t know, a work slack or something? And you go, Hey guys, did you know that your pension plan was funding the war in Ukraine? Is this what you really want? Look, here’s a regenerative one. You could switch. And I would be surprised if people didn’t. Brilliant. And then this I’m thinking. So I’m just following trains of thought. The ‘be more pirate’ concept. Have you have you read the pirate books? So I’m thinking that this is the stand up in the meeting and go “You know what, guys? I’m having a meeting next door that’s going to talk about regenerative pension plans and you guys are talking about next month’s KPIs. Is that really interesting? You want to come talk about retention, pensions and see what happens?” Because then the people who are wakening up but feel frozen, are given that taste of freedom and agency.
Garry: It’s brilliant. And you’re motivating and inspiring me back to to do more of it, because part of my own journey in paralysis, it isn’t a straight journey, right? I’m sitting in one of the most extractive sectors wanting to be and support so much more, but having to navigate ego and fear. Like, I’d love to go out and put much more powerful messaging out. Literally on our intranet last week Manda, I put a post out going, Do you feel safe to publish on this Intranet? Yes. No. Maybe. Wow. I left it up for 4 hours. Got seen by hundreds, but only four actually anonymously voted.
Manda: Oh, that’s interesting.
Garry: Which is the only signal I needed. Right.
Manda: Yes. That was a no, wasn’t it? That was a can’t even tick the box ‘No’. Wow.
Garry: But what energetically might have been sent through that one little insignificantly seeming act? Someone out there thinking differently, inviting me to show up differently. I removed it. I removed it after 3 hours because there was, of course, that. And then I actually had the group communications director tried to get hold of me, so I know that she saw it. So it’s a little… That’s me being more pirate. I’m not going to blow it up.
Manda: No, but just asking the questions.
Garry: We can’t blow up the system, but we can… We can blow up the system. It needs to be blown up. But I think if we’re going to do it well and regeneratively and with love and care and abundance, we need to hospice this industry and our ways of life to the new ways. To just blow it up. And who’s fault, who’s right, who’s wrong? That just keeps us where we are. So I think it’s more like getting playful.
Garry: Trying to remember… Let’s get playful with this. Let’s put something out. Let’s be cheeky. Let’s ask a silly question and just have some fun with it.
Manda: Yes. Because asking questions is a political act. I think that’s something I learnt very early on in my kind of activism is just asking the question is enough. And we spoke last week, the week before, a wonderful man called Yannick Beaudoin, who’s part of the Wellbeing Alliance in Canada. And he says he goes to town halls in very Republican areas of Canada. They’re not called Republican, but that kind of aesthetic. And he just asks what is the economy for and is it serving you? He doesn’t give the whole spiel of a continual growth economy on a finite planet not going to work, but they get there in the end, working it out themselves.
Manda: One of the things that I am increasingly aware of is the disparity between what young people think, and what people certainly my age, I’m somewhat older than you, think. You’re kind of there in the middle. And I was listening to a podcast recently where a university professor who talks about the things that we’re talking about. And he said that his students have gone through an evolution in the last ten years. Ten years ago, not many of them really got climate change or were interested. Now everybody gets it and they’ve all moved very fast from being There is nothing we can do, to reading Andreas Malm’s ‘How to Blow Up a Pipeline’ and making the decision that the only way to fix things is to blow up the pipelines, to blow things up, exactly as you said.
Manda: And the discussion on the podcast and the journey that I’ve been on, listening to that and and writing a book and endeavouring to stay with my non-violent Extinction Rebellion principles, is that if we bring violence to the table, it gives the the Russian army instinct in all of our cultures an excuse to come down very, very hard. But that if we’re going to speak to the young people and bring them to the fore, as you said, about bringing the people from the global south to the fore, if we’re going to give them a voice that matters, we have to give them agency that that doesn’t involve blowing up a pipeline. And I’m wondering what in your industry, what the age spectrum is? Because I’m aware, for instance, that young people, Generation Z, we have to call it. But we’ll go with that because that’s what it is. Just will not work in the oil industry, for instance, because they just don’t want those jobs. And that over time that would become an issue. But we have eight years. It’s not going to become an issue in eight years. But I’m wondering what the age spectrum is in your industry and whether it might be easier to connect with the younger people and where they are on the blow up of pipeline spectrum.
Garry: So really it’s a really cracking question. Because for sure the industry is middle age to late age without a doubt, and it’s a really interesting reflection. So yes, of course, there is talent coming in. There are people coming through universities that are chemists, you know, business majors, etc.. But I would say it’s interesting, actually. It’s really interesting because I would see at the same point that 2030 shift; Garry’s prediction, it’s purely a futurist prediction. I could see a complete collapse of talent for the sector. So I’ll give you another example. Getting a dangerous goods, heavy goods driver now to move material across Europe.
Garry: Almost impossible because young people aren’t taking up driving jobs.
Garry: So there’s this whole macro supply. A lot of the supply chain failure that we’re having now. It’s in part due to availability of containers and other things. But it’s as much people not wanting to work in the sector and saying no or I’m not prepared to just have half an hour in that really manky shower at that client site. Well, I’m worth more than that. I’d rather be at home and not work.
Manda: Yeah. I want to have a job that’s meaningful or no job at all.
Garry: Exactly. And that I think young people. But increasingly that’s going up the age range as well. And that’s an interesting… It’s almost like the fire has been lit at the bottom with the younger people. And that’s rapidly great resignation, great realisation, whatever you want to call it, it’s running through society. So that’s why I think this 2030 timeline that you’re working to actually is just perfect. Because we’re going towards it’s going to be either collapse gracefully, hospice, or collapse really ugly. It’s going to be one or the other.
Manda: As Ukraine is showing us. Yes, I think we never expected to see lines of people walking as refugees across Western Europe in our lifetimes. And we’re seeing it. And the huge takeaway from that is this is coming to all of us if the ugly collapse happens. And people have written dystopic futures forever, we all know how bad it could be. That’s why I’m quite keen that we write the alternative futures, that people can see that there are alternatives. Because if all we write is the trials of refugees. That’s what we’ll get. You head for the energy. So if you and I were co-creating ways for your industry to become a leader in the change that we need to see. And you’re already working on the pensions. Suppose everybody moved their pension money to something regenerative? I would. So I’m going to throw out a couple of ideas, see what you think of them, and then bring your own ideas. I would then also ask, who do we bank with? Are we banking with people who are funding the war in Ukraine? Are we banking with people who are funding fossil fuels? If the answer is yes to either of those, can we go and back with Triodos, who definitely isn’t? They don’t think Rio Tinto is a regenerative company. I’m 100% sure. So move the money and tell the bank that you left, why you’re doing it. Your own personal money, but also, I’m guessing, industry money is probably quite significant. If you went to Barclays and went, you know what, we’re moving to Triodos. Sorry, goodbye. For the whole industry? Barclays would notice. I left Lloyds and wrote to them a letter to the head office going, This is why I’m leaving.
Manda: But I’m kind of guessing that unless 5 million of us did that, they probably didn’t take any notice. But if your business did that, somebody’s job would be on the line. I’m guessing that you have a canteen, so I’m thinking I would go in and go, Where do we source all the food from? Is it locally sourced and regenerative stuff? If not, can we do that? Yes, we can. We might have to take a little while. It might take till 2030 to get it fully in place. But if we start supporting local farmers, local businesses, creating regenerative jobs and regenerative soil around us, we could do that. It would be it would be a good thing to be doing. And it’s not greenwashing. Then it’s not we’re buying… Like happened near us: Five big farms in North Shropshire bought up by people who are going to plough the land, release huge amounts of CO2,plant serried rows of Sitka spruce which will never take in the CO2 they just released by the ploughing and tell themselves they’re doing something good because they’re planting trees. And they’ve just taken food land and turned it into pointless tree land with no biodiversity at all. But I’m sure they think they’re doing a really good thing. So you could encompass something a bit more regenerative. So those are my ideas because I know nothing about your industry, but if I were going into any industry, those would be obvious things to do generically. Your industry, what could we do? Sorry, what could we do that would be regenerative that you could do in a year?
Garry: They are both great examples. So some of the ideas that I have are a lot around the spirit of this conversation, Manda. So there’s a lot of practical, tactical things we can do as you described, which we do need to do. But the number one overriding thing, I believe, is regenerating the human spirit from the inside out. If we are not going inside to understand why we do what we do, why we buy what we buy, why we live where we live, who we surround ourselves with. If we do all of the outside world stuff, but don’t do the inner bit, it’s folly. So for me, that’s the number one beyond. So I can talk a lot about other ideas, tactics, which we do need to get to. But we’re not speaking about that part enough. We’re doing a lot of stuff on net zero for 2050. Sustainable aviation fuel was one of the McKinsey’s article. Genuinely I think about that. So we’re not anti anybody or anything per se. We’re just saying be a bit more critical thinking in a really curious, playful way. But please, please, please, we need to reach those people in power that have got resource and positional power. They need to do the inner work, Manda. Because everything else is just a smokescreen if we’re not doing that bit first.
Manda: Key Yes. Brilliant. How are you going to reach those people and help them? Because I am imagining, certainly from my own process and expanding out, that it’s been quite scary at times. That the letting go of the old structures and and stepping into something that we genuinely don’t know is frightening. How are we going to help people face that frightening, when the outer world is already producing a lot of fear.
Garry: So for me, we’re seeing some beautiful waves here today. So there’s community/brave spaces. So they are similar, but they’re different. So what I’ve got the vision for is, for example, you and I and others coming together almost like Burning Man meets Glastonbury, meets something, where you have spoken word, where someone comes and has a conversation about the book you’ve written, where someone uses a real life case study of where they think we could try and be more regenerative with this particular process. Where we’ve got live music. Like it may sound a little bit off the wall, but we need the art. Like the arts are critical ways of expressing. And again, how do we how do we express art through feeling we don’t do it just in our head. So if we can create the conditions through these almost like experiential environments, whether it be like I say, mini festivals, whether it’s retreats, we need to create and co-create the spaces that allow these people to drop those masks. How we do that, I’m still working on, but that’s a very real intention, one that I’m actually…I Was actually going to run an executive retreat early next month.
Garry: But my co collaborator aren’t… We’re not really there yet in terms of how to attract them in. Like what is the right messaging, what’s the right energy? Right. But this is very advanced this is not just a pie in the sky. This is something I’m looking to do.
Garry: To invite those leaders into a space to experience the unknowing. To co-create with people that work in different sectors, different functions. So, yeah, that’s, that’s part of the vision really. But we need, I never used to be so empathetic, Manda. Like I was the guy also whacking him with a stick, Like, you’ve got the money, you’ve got the power. Why don’t you do this? Like, I know what that feels like. It’s not very nice to be lashed. And they’re still human. Even if they’re in this really powerful, privileged position, they are still human. So how do we invite them into a space to experience the wider breadth of their humanity rather than that narrow bit they’ve been educated, which I was stuck in for 39 years.
Manda: Yeah, totally. Yes. And letting go of the blame game, it’s so easy to to try and take the moral high ground and get into our righteous anger, which which is a huge dopamine hit. And that makes us feel really good. And we can go, I’m right, you’re wrong. And and nothing changes. And people then become defensive. And defensive people retreat to their bunkers of the known. So, yes, the empathy. It seems to me that a lot of the conversations I have and I think a lot of the conversations you have on your podcast, are with people around the world who are coming to the same realisation. They may phrase it slightly differently, but the essence is we have to reach people’s hearts and help them to open. I would say we have to help people connect to the web of life and experience that connectivity and that in itself then becomes a regenerative experience. And it seems to me, without me stepping into the blame game, but I remember listening to Steve Bannon, who I don’t agree with a single of his values, but he’s a very smart person. And he said that they went through a process with the right. As in the political right. Where they went under the radar, they made an agreement that nobody was going to say anything in the open until they had worked out what they wanted and how they were going to get it.
Manda: And they brought together hugely disparate groups. So they had the kind of Ayn Rand libertarians, and they had the evangelicals and the Ayn Rand libertarians were definitely pro-abortion because libertarians, and the evangelicals went, no, that’s one of our red lines. And the Ayn Rand lot went, Oh, okay then. You can have that. And they found their compromises because they all knew what they wanted to get, which is a white supremacist patriarchal theocracy. And Donald Trump was them coming up above the radar because they’d made that. And I’m not seeing anything in our regenerative space that has that level of ruthlessness, really, because we’re not ruthless. We want everyone to come to this. How do we bring everyone together in time? So that we’re not all reinventing the same wheels and doing our own little bit of let’s bring a few people together and help them to connect. That’s great. But there are literally thousands of us across the planet, probably tens, possibly hundreds of thousands each doing this in our own little spaces. And my feeling is that we need to join. Quite quickly. And find ways to connect ourselves. Have you thought about this and have you any ideas how we do it?
Garry: Just like the $60 billion question, isn’t it?
Manda: Well, there we go. Why not? Yes.
Garry: It really is. But I love the imagining. Right. So for me, I do think about this a lot. And for me, it’s again, it’s back to this de-centering thing. Like who are the people that we’re not hearing and seeing? Anywhere near as much as we should be, anyway, as part of our systems, but who probably hold the key to this very, very question. Those in the Global South. Like how do we get those people centre? How do we reach, how do we build trust with them, so they know we’re not going to harm them? But follow their lead, engage with them and have them helping us with the wisdom that they have. Because I don’t think this is going to be a global North solved challenge. This is going to be very much a global south influenced, led, regeneration. If we’re going to get this to work properly, that’s what I’m increasingly believing and feeling. Is that it’s like the ultimate letting go. The letting go that we in the North have got the answer.
Manda: But we in the north are the problem. How are we going to reach those who hold power and enjoy holding power? It seems to me we’re ending up in a kind of circular… Somehow we have to soften the hearts of those who hold power. For whom power and privilege is probably held by fear. They probably live in the scarcity, separation and powerlessness paradigm and they feel that power is what they need. Within eight years. How do we do that? Because it seems to me that pretty much by definition that softening has to happen in order to let the Global South begin to evolve its hegemony. That one has to sink for the other to rise, and that the people who don’t see things this way and currently hold the reins of power are clinging onto them ever harder. The whole kind of toxic mess in Ukraine seems to me to be, it feels to me like the the dragon sloughing its skin in a way; that there’s that sense of the final roar. But the final roar could immolate us all. How does that softening arise with people who aren’t listening to the Global South just now? You know, the whole COP was an extraordinary evidence of lots of indigenous people coming and just not being allowed into the Green Zone. Whereas the fossil fuel companies had more people there than everybody else combined. And now we see fossil fuel prices skyrocketing and the fossil fuel war happening. That’s kicking out CO2. We can switch off as many light bulbs as we like, and one plane in those formations is using up my entire lifetime CO2 capacity. Military CO2 output is never measured because it’s a state secret, so we’ll never know how much carbon they’re chucking out. But it’s lots. And so how do we get there? Have you got a vision in your what feels to me like quite a vision of how we make this global southern hegemony, whatever we want to call it, become the dominant paradigm in time.
Garry: Well, question honestly, I don’t want to be flippant, it’s such a big question and I agree with you. You’re right that there needs to be the softening of the heart, the heart head connexion in the north, particularly in these extractive sectors. But I think it’s an and, right. So it’s not a that happened and then that can happen. It’s like, how do we get them both? These things need to be happening in unison. Back to, you know, these are all parts these are all fractals of the thing, which is life. So it’s, I guess in part and I’m going to explore this more as well for myself and with you, I’m sure, is how do we get clear on those critical intersections? So one is financial services for sure. How do we need to be puncturing the financial system as it is today, to both connect head and heart in the North and allow funds to start flowing to the south and hear their voice more. Okay, that’s definitely an acupuncture point. Ok, Chemicals and pharmaceutical. And that’s where the community comes in. How do we identify those critical acupuncture points? Because we don’t just want to stab everywhere, like you say, 4000 movements, all doing well-meaning work. Right. But what’s the what’s the common acupuncture point that’s going to be the biggest thing that’s going to release the pressure. So 1. Human spirit. So human spirit generally, but particularly the global north. How do we connect to ourselves, systems and others in a way that we didn’t believe was possible? That’s one critical acupuncture point. Another one is financial services, without a doubt. That’s another acupuncture point. So that’s part of this, I believe that is getting clear collectively. What are the key acupuncture points and how do we try and puncture them?
Manda: Right. This is back to Donella meadows. Levers of change, isn’t it? She had a 12 point list of of what are the levers of change? Someone asked her exactly that. And when I was at Schumacher and I learnt that we learnt the bottom one is kind of making structural changes, in like taxes. She was asked, a political level, shifting taxes, it’s right down at the bottom it really doesn’t do much. But she got up, and the second to top one was changing the paradigm. And I remember getting to that and thinking, okay, yeah, I can do that. We can change the paradigm. But the top one was Abandon all Paradigms. And it took me years of going I don’t even understand what that means! But I think, yes, acupuncture points of how… And then the question is how do we get there? How do we abandon all paradigms and allow something new to come in? Brilliant. I love that. It’s beautiful. And it’s also reminding me of Joanna Macy’s three points of the Great Turning, where she’s got the holding actions that kind of prevent the harm. You’re lying in front of the bulldozer that’s going to start the fracking side. The shifting consciousness, which is I think you’re getting to people, getting to the awakening, getting to the heart opening. And then she’s got the structural redesign because we can’t puncture the global financial system if we don’t offer people an alternative that works. Otherwise, that is the the plane crashing out of the sky. And we want it to do it’s soft landing.
Manda: So we’re heading towards the end. We’re very nearly at the end. I wanted to ask you, I’ve been listening to your podcast, which is beautiful, and I’ll put it in the show notes. And one of your key points in what seems to be a multi layered event, is activating consciousness. And I’m wondering in all that you’ve said and coming to the heart mind, what does an activated consciousness feel like? We may have answered this already in which case we’ll cancel this question and go back to something else.
Garry: So I want to defer, if I may, to my guest on the fourth episode of Activating Consciousness, which is Helen Amory. And she shared with me in that conversation; “I love the conversations you’re having, Garry. I’m enjoying this one, but I see it less as an activating. And more of a remembering”. So if we think about it really at a felt level, this conversation’s reconfirmed that for me. We’ve been so conditioned to live just up at here, because it reinforces everything else that sustains, right. Whereas the more we allow ourselves to connect the two, we remember that we are literally one human race. We are benefiting greatly from these ecosystem services that none of us have paid a single penny for with money. So what is money anyway? That non nonhuman animals have equal rights of human animals on the planet. I’m still working through that myself. You know, there’s this really felt awareness of that oneness, before the stories and the fears and the anxiety and the status and all those other things that we’ve been taught. Let’s remember, we’ve been taught from day dot by parents and the education system that that stuff matters. None of it does. And that’s the abandoning all paradigms for me. If I left one invitation, remembering our consciousness is remembering the complete and utter, utter abundance of energy that we all are. There is nothing that is fixed. Absolutely zero. Your thoughts, beliefs, your money, who you work for. Zero is fixed. Everything is possible. And maybe that’s the way for me to wrap up that answer.
Manda: That’s beautiful, actually. And I think that would be a very fine end to the podcast because I would love to go off into the Matrix and things. But I think to be honest, we’ve gone there. And that sense that we are all abundance and that if we just allow it to be, then we can become fully who we are and play our role in whatever is required of us. That’s so beautiful. Thank you. So we will call it a wrap there. Garry Turner, thank you so much for coming on to The Accidental Gods podcast.
Garry: Thank you, Manda and everyone.
Manda: And that’s it for another week. Enormous thanks to Gary. For the courage of his journey, for his daring to be vulnerable and having the self understanding to express everything that he’s going through in a way that seems to me to express the best of what it is to be a man in our current society. If you’re interested in connecting further. He’s very active on LinkedIn. I will put links to that, to his website and to his podcast in the show notes. Because if each of us can reach out to the people that we work with and help them, as he said, to open their heart minds, to become awake and aware and connected to themselves, to each other, and to the web of life. And I realise I’m paraphrasing what he said into what I would say, but even so, if we can make these connections, if we can begin to build networks across time and across space between all of the different factors and sectors of our current culture, then change is still possible. Comment from the Pony’s Outside. And as we’ve said several times, we do need the roadmaps for the future and Thrutopia Masterclass is still open for signing up. And please, it doesn’t matter if you’re not a novelist or a scriptwriter or a poet. If you want to be part of the conversation that opens up and makes this possible, if you want to be part of all of the people in the room trying to find ways of getting from here to there, that feel real and that will speak to everybody, then please do come.
Manda: I’ve had emails from people who are really quite impressive coaches asking whether coaching counts as a way of telling stories. And yes, definitely it does. Telling stories to our grandchildren, telling stories to the people we meet in the queue in the supermarket, to our friends, our colleagues, our neighbours, our families, to anybody. This is about us finding the ways through and then embodying them. So if that sounds like you, if it’s something that you would like to do, then please do come along thrutopia.life is the website. Come and join us.
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