Why You Should Talk About Your Sustainability Failures

When I speak in public, I usually tell a story in the first 10 minutes about something I failed at. And I'll talk about getting cancer when I was 20 and how that eliminated a lot of my fear. People connect with these things, because everyone has failed at something and been afraid and had health issues. Only strong people are comfortable talking about their failures. I don't see a downside to it. 

--- Hayes Drumwright, founder and CEO of Trace3, quoted in Inc. Magazine


Being honest about yourself--both your strengths and your weaknesses--is a crucial element of likability, authenticity, and trustworthiness. It's true for individuals, and it's also true for organizations.

We frequently have companies come to us to help them "tell a better sustainability story". And what we say is simple: telling a great sustainability story means sharing both the good and the bad.

Telling a good sustainability story doesn't mean just sharing the positive results. It means taking your audience through the experience in a brutally honest way. Sustainability is a complex and challenging topic--probably the most urgent and daunting task of our society- and no one expects you to get it right 100 percent of the time. (And if that's the story you're trying to sell, you're going to get a lot of suspicion, doubt, and disappointment). 

Instead, tell us about the things you tried that failed. Tell us what you learned when things went wrong. Tell us how your early misses informed your later successes. Tell us what you'd do differently if you could do it all over again. 

Those are the sustainability stories that inspire. 

Want some help with your sustainability story? We offer a Green Communications Audit that will assess the strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities of your current environmental and social communications. And if you're ready to start an annual disclosure process, check out our sustainability reporting services.