My name is Haiko Meelis and I work as a coach/consultant. I’m a creative catalyst of change. I also write about it. It’s about change that positively impacts life en large. Your own life, that of your loved ones and life on Earth in general. How did that came about?
My first moment of truth came to me while visiting some small villages on the remote Indonesian island of West-Timor where I used to live at that time. By western standards these villages would be classified as poor and disadvantaged. However, these villages were largely self-sufficient, surrounded by nature, were breathing clean air, drinking clean water, eating fresh food, had a roof above their head, they were creating close to zero waste and the villages were a relatively safe place to live (certainly compared to the Indonesian mega-cities). The villages would would have some trade in-between villages and with merchants form the “big city”. Most importantly they had each other. There was a strong community spirit to take care of each other nourished by a spirituality which was a combination of recently introduced western religion and centuries old animalism. Some things could definitely be better: low level of education, minimal health care, domestic violence, amongst others. Also many young people were recruited to work abroad under suspicious conditions. Many of them were never heard of again.
This is when I realized that these villages could be seen as an example for the world on how to solve the struggle the world finds itself in today. Not literally, but as a concept: regional self-sufficiency with some trade, only small to medium-scale enterprises, living in connection with each other and the Earth and living in harmony with each other. Distributed, circular and harmonious.
Before moving to Indonesia I had a successful career as a change agent. As a consultant I moved quickly up the ranks working for and with companies, investment firms and (non-)governmental organizations across many industries (telecoms, payments, utilities, government, non-profit, financial services) in Europe, the US, Asia and Africa. At some point I made the all important switch from being a wage slave to entrepreneurship and ended as interim CTO for a large global payment processor.
There something happened. I always used to be critical on how organizations were organized and how people in these organizations would treat each other. Also I doubted the intentions of many. More and more I realized that both the people and organizations were only in there for their own benefit. But then I started to hate the environment I was in. At that same time the burn-out syndrome that the world currently suffers from so badly started to take of. I quitted, looking back probably not too long before I would have had mine and I moved with my family to Indonesia for a new adventure.
Living a new, very different, life in a country where time is flexible like rubber and deadlines are considered vague, non-binding intentions was very refreshing. Suddenly I was spending lots of time with my young kids, playing with them, but also homeschooling them. My wife and I had a date night every week. I was meditating, doing yoga, writing, reading, learning and doing many other things. I shouldn’t forget to mention the tropical paradise island setting where all this was taking place. Not all was well of course: it was hot, very hot, during the day and it didn’t cool down a lot at night. There were mosquitos spreading dengue fever all over and there was the constant struggle to get our visas renewed. Amongst others.
Adjusting took some time. After about three months I took a flight to Bali (the closed point resembling western civilization from where we lived) just to go shopping for things that I considered essential at that time and I couldn’t buy on West-Timor. Only later I realized that the locals were surviving without those so-called essentials and this became an ongoing project for me: finding local solutions for problems that I was used to solve by buying solutions. Of course the locals had similar needs and they had ingenious and mostly free solutions. Sometimes the solution was already growing in our garden. I was amazed by traditional wisdom more than once.
A second moment of truth – this time on the climate emergency – dawned on me during visits to Malaysia, Sumatra, Kalimantan and many other places where we saw the destruction of the Earth for the sake of palm oil, rubber and other crops. I will never forget our encounter with some remaining orangutans in what is left of the rain forests of Kalimantan and all I could think of or say was “I’m sorry”.
I realized we urgently need to start to take good care of the Earth and all living beings. The term earth justice describes this well: Righteous ways to meet the needs of all living beings while staying within the means of our planet. Distributed, circular and harmonious like the villages I mentioned before.
Nothing less than a system change is needed to realize this. This insight – combined with my background as a creative catalyst of change – made me to define my life’s purpose to help prevent the human-caused destruction of life on earth by catalyzing collective transformation through mass individual change. For the second part of my life I want to positively impact both survival and quality of life – my own life, the lives of the ones close to me and in general – by contributing my part in saving life on earth.
So now I’m a coach & creative catalyst of change and writing about it. I’m helping entrepreneurial people and their organizations transform towards a better version of themselves and/or their organization by finding just ways to meet the needs of their circle of influence, while staying within the means of our planet.