Growing up, my parents taught my siblings and me to find a special connection with nature and nurture it. Whether it was feeding the birds at the park, long walks in the countryside or our weekly gathering at the beach, Mother Nature in all her glory, has been a constant companion and deep source of inspiration throughout my life. As Frank Lloyd Wright, one of nature’s greatest students, once said, “Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you”.
The planet is the leading inspiration for the Omnipreneurship approach, where the modus operandi is the act of building a better and more sustainable world. In fact, in our family business, the planet and our responsibility towards it, sits at the heart of our Sustaining activities.
When we came to design our Sustaining activities, which are devoted to the four Ps – People, Planet, Profit and Philanthropy – I asked our teams to look at nature as our guiding light; the master of organic design, capable of the most elegant solutions with built in resilience, efficiency and organising principles that yield the best possible outcome.
In Omnipreneurship, I write, “The word sustain comes from Latin (sus meaning “up” and tain from tenere, to hold). When you sustain something, you hold it up and keep it supported. To create something sustainable, you need to provide it with a very solid foundation. Things endure because they are undergirded by a system that supports them for the long term. When many people talk about “sustaining”, they mean the environment – taking responsible care of natural resources and the planet. I view “sustainability” through an expanded lens. To me, it refers not only to our care of the earth, but also to our long-term care of everything we have created on this earth: rule of law, governments, businesses, faiths, people, culture, community, and family. “Sustain” is about keeping our dreams alive.”
In our companies there are many examples of this expanded definition of sustaining, such as providing employees with a good wage and growth opportunities, and ensuring that they maintain their health through a variety of health and wellness programs. We pursue environmental sustainability as well. In our Tanmiah Food Group, for example, we raise and process chicken and are careful to treat and recycle water and any recyclable materials such as cardboard, and to compost chicken manure. In our Red Sea Housing companies, we conserve and recycle water; control the generation of noise, heat, and dust at our project sites; and manufacture eco-friendly products.
I always urge friends, colleagues and family members – anyone who wants to build a better world and live a life of meaning – to consider what kind of future they envision for their children. The answer will almost always be a world that is safe. Omnipreneurship can help unlock the maximum impact you are seeking with the ideal partnerships and collaborations, much like Mother Nature teaches us.
Happy Earth Day everyone!
Amr Al-Dabbagh is CEO of the Al-Dabbagh Group, which operates 62 companies in 60 countries employing over 15,000 men and women around the world. Follow him on Twitter at @theomnipreneur. For more information on The Greatest Among You and the other components of Omnipreneurship, you can buy the book, Omnipreneurship, now available for Kindle and in hardback on Amazon.