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Arriving To Purpose With Intention: A Conversation Between Black Fox Global and The Wellbeing Project

Filed in Wellbeing — May 29, 2023

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As our community prepared to attend the Skoll World Forum last month, we checked in with our friends at The Wellbeing Project because they are leading the conversation around making individual well-being a core tenet of social change movements. 

As conference season continues in full-force we’re now sharing this out with the wider impact community, in the hopes that you will #Protect-the-Asset as you navigate the intensity, the pace, and the joy of sector convenings.

Curious about what convenings are occurring around the globe?  Find out here!

In the following conversation, the Wellbeing Project shares their expertise for social change leaders as we enter a time that demands a lot of ourselves and our organizations.

BFP: Tell us a little bit about the history and mission of The Wellbeing Project.

The Wellbeing Project: The Wellbeing Project was founded on the belief that the well-being of individual changemakers has ripple effects that directly impact the success of social and environmental change movements as a whole. Grounded in this core and proven principle, we are catalyzing a network of social change organizations and changemakers who are re-imagining how wellbeing is fundamental to the success of our collective social change work in benefit of people and the planet.

The growth of our global movement is guided by three core activities – research and storytelling, community building, and the acceleration of local wellbeing initiatives. As the stewards of a movement that is bigger than ourselves, we are building the infrastructure for organizations to drive a sea-change in both how social and environmental change movements are led and implemented – and the ultimate societal impacts they achieve.

BFP: Can you share a bit more about what you and your colleagues at The Wellbeing Project have seen as far as the relationship between individual wellbeing and the success of their social and environmental change movements? Both in terms of your professional experience as well as any research you may have led on this topic?  

The Wellbeing Project: Studies have shown that burnout and depression in the social sector is on the rise. In our own work, we found that while 75% of respondents felt that looking after their wellbeing was “very important,’” only 25% reported that they looked after their well-being “to a great extent.” This disconnect is that much more pertinent when you look at the findings of our 2020 research report which confirms the very premise on which The Wellbeing Project was founded – which is that systems level change happens from the inside out.

We know that you can’t give what you don’t have. And when your gas tank is empty from overwork, overwhelm and/or the inability to prioritize oneself, the quality of one’s work suffers. Creativity, innovation and collaboration cannot flourish if burnout and well-being is not addressed.

BFP: Conferences can often be overwhelming for social changemakers, particularly as they attempt to be present and network while also managing the team and operations of their social enterprise. As founders and social change leaders prepare for the Skoll World Forum, what advice do you have to stay balanced and healthy while also maximizing the opportunities that a gathering like Skoll presents? 

The Wellbeing Project:

  • Check in with yourself to stay grounded and connected to both yourself and why you are at the conference in the first place. Are you feeling exhausted? Overwhelmed? You might be better served by taking one less meeting or attending one less session to make sure you remain grounded, present, positive and ready to build lasting and meaningful connections.
  • Make time to go for short walks. You’re likely to be seated indoors a good deal at the conference. Nothing like a quick 10-15 walk outdoors to quiet down the mind, show your body some love and get to see beautiful Oxford. You might even consider asking someone you’re supposed to meet with to consider a walking meeting ?
  • Drink plenty of water! Traveling means we often don’t bring our healthier home habits with us. Bring a reusable water bottle and invite yourself to stay hydrated with a number of refills a day.
  • No matter the position/role you occupy, remember that you and everyone at the Forum are humans first! Try to embrace that human-centered approach to networking, striking up conversation with someone new or spending time with your colleagues.

BFP: Many founders have a wellness routine to remain focused and balanced, and approach their work with intention. And many other founders are so driven by their organization’s mission that their own wellbeing may take a back seat. What advice do you have for the founders that fall into the latter category and are still developing their own wellness routine? 

The Wellbeing Project: 

  • Lead by example. Prioritizing your own well-being sends a very powerful message to those around you, including your colleagues. Not only will you benefit by developing a routine, but there’s a better chance you can shift that towards your organizational culture too.
  • Be gentle with yourself. Consider this an invitation to well-being, rather than a challenge or something you have to do. Self-compassion is needed in our inner wellbeing journeys.
  • If you care about transformational systems change work, know that it engages inner awareness and personal development practices in order to enhance the effectiveness of organizations working toward a just and sustainable world.

BFP: And of course all social changemakers are unique, with different personal needs and varying opportunities for personal growth. How can people find what works best for them? And are there any core elements of a “wellness routine” that you would say everyone should adopt and embrace? 

The Wellbeing Project: At The Wellbeing Project we do not prescribe any one way to build an inner wellbeing practice. We share a diversity of pathways that our network members can experiment with to see what resonates. This can include personal practices like meditation or journaling, spiritual practices, body work, mindfulness, therapy, and exploration in ongoing group meetings and retreats.

Ultimately, we are striving for changemakers to experience greater self-awareness because this helps us become more fully human, see our interconnections and act with greater compassion in the world.

From gardening to a silent retreat and everything in between, we encourage changemakers to find what helps them drop down and tune in with themselves for greater self-awareness and healing.

BFP: What’s next for The Wellbeing Project and how can the Black Fox community get involved, and support your work? 

The Wellbeing Project: We are growing our global network of social change leaders and organizations in order to mainstream inner well-being and mental health in the social change sector. There are many ways to be part of that vision. If you’re interested in learning more, you can reach out to, sign up for our quarterly newsletter or follow us on social media:

BFP: Anything else you’d like to share with the Black Fox community of social change leaders and funders? 

The Wellbeing Project: Enjoy this energizing self-love tune from the incredible Justin Michael Williams at our 2022 Wellbeing Summit for Social Change in Bilbao. We bet you can’t listen without breaking into a huge smile!