5 Questions for… Isabel Rimanoczy

"Legacy is not what remains when we die, but what we’re creating every day." - Isabel Rimanoczy

“Legacy is not what remains when we die, but what we’re creating every day.” – Isabel Rimanoczy

We put our five questions to new author Isabel Rimanoczy, whose book Big Bang Being: Developing the Sustainability Mindset is out now. Here Isabel talks to us about finding our identity, making a contribution and why what we are doing to the planet breaks her heart.

1. What inspired you to write “Big Bang Being” and what do you hope the book achieves or changes?
It’s interesting. This is the third book I have written, and every time the same thing happens. I think I’ll write about something I know, and I end up doing so much new research that the outcome is only slightly related to the idea!

So to answer your question, my motivation was to share the interesting findings of my doctoral research, where I studied business leaders championing sustainability initiatives. I wanted other business leaders around the world to find inspiration and benchmarks to see what is possible and be motivated to act in new ways.

The book still lives up to that intention, only it goes one step further: it is written as a coaching session, where I invite the reader to pause and reflect on questions that I would ask as a Legacy Coach, working with individuals who are interested in making a difference in the world.

So beyond learning what others are doing, it explores the values of our daily life, the values that keep us anchored in the “unsustainability”. It explores the deeper questions: Who am I? What is my role? What mark am I making?

2. Who or what has been a major influence on your worldview?
To understand the planetary emergency, my influence has been authors describing the state of dramatic situations from an environmental and social perspective. The list is long, and it includes activists like Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org.

I spent many hours reading about how serious this is, sitting and crying, with a broken heart. This pushed me to wanting to do something. I could not just read and watch.

Several authors brought new perspectives to me in terms of the values and mindsets of our time. Like fish in the water, we have a hard time noticing what we take for granted.

Is our identity based on what we do, what we buy and have?

They were sociologists and feminists like Riane Eisler, systems thinkers, visionaries like the late Willis Harman, or the economist Schumacher who wrote “Small is Beautiful” in 1973! Also Ervin Laszlo, who wrote about the limitations of our mindset in the late 1980s.

But much of my current worldview has also been shaped by my personal reconnection with spirituality, the deeper questions that touch our soul. It was an experience of “coming home” to a place that was very familiar yet that I had forgotten for several decades.

My worldview was also impacted by my personal search for meaning, my concern about the legacy we are leaving – realising that legacy is not what remains when we die, but what we’re creating every single day.

3. Can you tell us your three favourite books?
A Hidden Wholeness by Parker Palmer, because it has a simple way to put us in touch with our wisdom.

Biomimicry by Janine Benyus, because it opens a new world of possibilities by observing how Nature solves the problems we try to solve with complicated (and polluting) technologies.

Also Ben & Jerry’s Double Dip, the story of an extraordinary creative social enterprise at a time when no one was thinking that way.

4. What, in your opinion, is the biggest obstacle on the road to a more sustainable economy?
A sustainable economy starts in the mind and in our everyday habits. So for me, the obstacle is in the mind. Because it’s in the way we think about ourselves, in the anchors of our identity.

Is our identity based on what we do, what we buy and have? Do we adopt values that are marketed as the road to happiness, while we consume our planet to extinction? Do we feel helpless in the face of multinational corporations, global capital and short sighted government? Or do we notice that there must be something wrong, if we have more objects and comfort than our grandparents, but at the same time suffer from being more busy and unhappy?

It’s not the economy that is in control – it’s the individual.

We have a lot of power when we shop and consume. We can shape an economy with those small daily decisions. And the mind – that is not easily controllable by others. With our interconnected world, mind-shifts are happening at the speed of light.

It’s not the economy that is in control – it’s the individual, you, me, your children, your neighbour. We are shaping the world we want for ourselves and for the next generations. It’s a subtle awakening, but like the Arab Spring, before you notice, it’s gone mainstream. So what role do you want to play?

5. What are you working on at the moment?
Some years ago I kept wondering what my path was, what I was supposed to do, and felt that I was going in too many directions at the same time. One day I realised they were all parts of a puzzle – which happened to be me.

What I’m working on is all anchored on the awareness of the mark we are making – on each other and on the ecosystem. I write, blog, teach and talk to expand this awareness, connecting with our deepest wisdom, helping people who want to make a difference – linking the heart, the head and the hands.

Whether it’s students, corporate executives, coaches or women (through the non-profit organisation I co-founded in 2009, Minervas Women Changing the World). This is a time of awakening, inspiration and connection.

With thanks to Isabel Rimanoczy.

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