I am often struck by a single word. A powerful word has so much to say. The very best words defy easy definitions. They bring forth emotion. They cause us to think and feel deeply. Their meanings shift subtly depending on the context. These kinds of words are not easily used and are often dismissed. But when one encounters them, they serve as guides for effective action. They break through the clutter and shine a light on what we really need to see.
For me, that word is stewardship right now. There are several definitions of the word. While none quite captures its true essence, my favorite is: “The careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care.” Stewardship implies a special kind of care, responsibility, and trust. Yet, it is more than this. Stewardship means something sacred. It implies privilege. It carries with it ethical and moral obligations. It has grace to it. It summons a level of respect and maturity from the one assuming it. Stewardship offers no refuge to those seeking to be bystanders. Above all, it allows one to gain perspective and to see that they are part of something much bigger.
We are all stewards. Of the bodies we inhabit. In a physical sense, we have a corporeal duty to take care of what we feed our minds and bodies. So too in the creative sense. Our bodies are vessels for acts of creation to manifest. We are stewards of our families, our closest relationships, and our communities. We are stewards of the organizations we work for, the people we lead, and the stakeholders we serve. And we are stewards of this planet. We have a sacred responsibility to leave to future generations a world that is healthier than it was when we first encountered it.
When practiced consistently, stewardship enriches one beyond measure. It provides guidance in a time of extreme change and uncertainty. It allows for service to something bigger than oneself. It unites rather than divides. It is the antidote to despair and the gateway to fulfillment. As a word, it can, should, and will remain elusive. That is the nature of powerful words. It is something to point towards, to aspire to, but to never fully grasp. The word itself demands its own stewardship.
This week I finished reading Peter Attia’s new book Outlive: The Science and Art of Longevity. Despite its title, this isn’t a typical book about increasing lifespan. It’s a comprehensive, well-researched, and practical guide to extending healthspan. Attia advocates for a shift from Medicine 2.0, which has primarily focused on delivering medical treatments after a disease has been diagnosed, to what he calls Medicine 3.0, which calls for early interventions to prevent or delay the onset of disease in the first place. Attia’s essential argument is that such interventions have the power to phase shift healthspan by two to three decades and minimize the length of time at the end of life where the quality of life deteriorates materially. It is an outstanding book and I recommend it highly.
Dove, a Unilever brand, has consistently practiced responsible stewardship through a longstanding advertising campaign. Their latest ad highlighting the toxic effects of social media is incredibly powerful and deserves your three minutes of attention.
This New York Times article, “How Electrifying Everything Became a Key Climate Solution,” is excellent. The use of dynamic charts to illustrate the path to electrification is really well done.