I can’t remember that I ever recommended to watch a TV series; so this is a first. ‘Big little lies’ on HBO is a master piece, and it is not by accident that it won 4 Golden Globe and 8 Emmy Awards. It is the story of 5 upper class mothers (outstanding cast including Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Zoe Kravitz, Shallene Woodley, Laura Dern) and their kids in a prestigious primary school in Monterrey. The stories are about ambitions and pretentions, about love and heart break, about violence and sex, and about big little lies. There are beautiful takes of the Pacific Ocean shores, plays of colours and well-chosen musical background. While the series is great family entertainment, it triggered something deeper that I wanted to share with you.
How many big little lies are part of our lives? How did it happen that we accepted them being around? How did we learn living with them? And what is the effect of them being around in our lives, our work, our relationships?
Here are a couple of examples:
- on our planet:
- we know about the adverse effect of flying, of our SUV on climate change; and yet we continue flying and have not replaced the SUV with a smaller electric car
- we sense that the growth paradigm will deplete the planet’s resources; and yet we continue measuring the quality of a country by its economic growth
- we could know that we are only guests on this earth; and yet we use and deplete its resources with a sense of entitlement
- we understand that we got lucky being born here; and yet we derive a merit out of the luck of our geographical birth place and believe that others have to apply to come here
- we know that the social divide has been increasing over the last decades; and yet we act as if we deserve to be on the sunny side
- on personal health:
- we know about the negative impact of sugar on our health, and yet the average Swiss consumes about 40 kg per year, practically unchanged for the last 30 years
- we are learning more and more about the importance of sleep and recovery; and yet we heroically manage away exhaustion
- we have been told many times that we should exercise daily and do at least 10’000 steps of movement per day; and yet…
- on relationships:
- we know how important it is to be present in the moments we have with friends and family; and yet we allow our minds to wander or even play around with our phone
- we have surely read about how important good and healthy relationships are for our own health and ageing; and yet we avoid the first step to constructively solve a conflict and offer an apology
- on our job:
- we’ve had quite some bumps in our career; and yet our CVs look like a straight line and the only way is up
- we even got fired at some point; and yet we have created a story of different views on strategic direction, looking for new challenges, asked to spend more time with family
- we have experienced many times how toxicity in the workplace hurts both people and performance; and yet, also often we choose to keep quiet
- we long for a job with meaning and purpose; and yet we accept to work in an environment that is driven by material gain and damaging our planet
- on life and purpose:
- we know that money doesn’t make us happy; and yet we spend huge amount of energy on material wealth
- we listen to stories of people pursuing their purpose; and yet we postpone our dreams for later
I could go on for a long time with big little lies in our lives. So why is this? Why do we allow ourselves such mindsets and biases? Robert Waldinger in his TED talk on ‘What makes a good life’ gives some hints. We are human; we like the quick fix; we like it nice and cozy. Owning all the consequences of our actions is uncomfortable, challenging and clearly not cozy.
For 2020 I wish that we strengthen the awareness of the existence of big little lies in our lives and that we start cleaning up some of them. You might want to engage your family in this commitment; I am sure that your kids can be a great help in addressing some of the above-mentioned opportunities for a better planet, better health and better relationships.
All the best,