Stories of wellbeing in Bilbao
The Wellbeing Project is co-created with Ashoka, Esalen Institute, Porticus, Impact Hub, Skoll Foundation and Synergos Institute and aims to catalyse a culture of inner wellbeing among social changemakers. Storytelling is a crucial component of the culture shift and building a community around wellbeing. Kennisland has been working for the Wellbeing Project by developing a ++Listening exercise Read more about our listening exercise exploring stories of community and wellbeing in Bilbao here. in the Basque city of Bilbao. Leading up to the 2021 Wellbeing Festival that will take place in Bilbao, Kennisland explores stories of community and inner life in the Basque Country to support fostering local practices around wellbeing and connect these place-based insights to global community practices.
How inner wellbeing influences social change
With their study ‘Wellbeing inspires welldoing’, the Wellbeing Project stands on the shoulders of activists like Rosa Parks and Desmond Tutu, who have emphasised and destigmatised the importance of inner wellbeing. In a more recent and broader cultural context, a culture shift towards practices like mindfulness and discussions around mental health have been taking place. Still, considering the difficult and oftentimes traumatising work that changemakers do, they don’t care particularly well for their inner wellbeing. But what happens when they do?
At the core of the study, the question was how changemakers’ inner wellbeing influences how social change happens. Participants of the Wellbeing Project’s Inner Development Programme (IDP) for leaders in the social field were subject to a three-year long researchParticipants generally demonstrated that individual shifts toward well-being positively influenced the well-being of their organisations and their engagement with the field. We have also begun to observe shifts at the societal level. process.
“While keeping in mind that the process of inner well-being is ongoing, complex, and evolving, participants generally demonstrated that individual shifts toward well-being positively influenced the well-being of their organisations and their engagement with the field. We have also begun to observe shifts at the societal level. In other words, our research shows a clear connection between the inner well-being of change makers and the way social change happens.”
Described is that besides a shift in perspective about their self and identity, participants notably changed their interactions with colleagues and peers. Inner work led participants to cultivate organisational capacities and qualities such as empathy, compassion and gratitude besides traditionally important ones like idea generation, fundraising and scaling.
Participants were also able to shift their leadership perspective toward building trust in colleagues and started integrating well-being into their organisations by normalising and prioritising it.
“As a result, instead of teams feeling pressured to overwork and drain energy down to zero, there was a more positive, supportive, and efficient approach to work, which supported both individuals and mission.”
These shifts in organisational culture according to the researchers led to cultivating openness and trusting in a process of co-learning, co-working and co-sharing across the social change sector and with other sectors. The inner work and the following reconceptualisationThe results of the study lay an important foundation for a culture shift towards inner wellbeing both within organisations and across fields, that could ultimately lead to more effective and holistic solutions for the biggest challenges of our times. of what it means to be a leader in the field of social change helped participants recognise their own ego and, through that awareness, develop greater capacity for cooperation and collaboration.
The results of the study lay an important foundation for a culture shift towards inner wellbeing both within organisations and across fields, that could ultimately lead to more effective and holistic solutions for the biggest challenges of our times. Read more about this exciting milestone study in ‘Connecting Individual and Societal Change’ in the Stanford Social Innovation Review.
Full report: Severns Guntzel, J. & Murphy Johnson, N. 2020. Wellbeing Inspires Welldoing: How Changemakers’ Inner Wellbeing Influences Their Work [Report]. Retrieved from bit.ly/TWPreport2020