April 11, 2020

Self-inquiry for social change leaders

How the internal work of self-inquiry can meaningfully shift our perceptions and behaviors in ways that positively impact the outer world, and how leaders of social change are incorporating the practice into their work and lives.

2 min read

“I felt trapped, and I was angry a lot of the time. I worked from early morning until midnight, with no outlets for my emotional and intellectual needs other than my employees and the local women we served. Over time, I felt the need for more nourishing interactions, and I also felt guilty about wanting something more. It was very unhealthy.”—Bedriye Hülya, founder of b-fit.

We’ve heard some version of this sentiment in many of our conversations with social entrepreneurs. “I was riding on adrenaline for the first five years,” said Mike Sani, founder of the UK-based civic engagement enterprise Bite the Ballot. “People only see the glamorous parts, but no one knows the depths of the lows. I blamed myself for not achieving our mission faster. I suffered from imposter syndrome. None of my family members understood what I did. I felt incredibly lonely.”

This is an excerpt from the article Self-Inquiry for Social Change Leaders by Katherine Milligan and Jeffrey C. Walker.

This article is a part of a special series on the connection between inner well-being and social change, in partnership with The Wellbeing ProjectStanford Social Innovation ReviewSchwab Foundation at the World Economic Forum, and Skoll Foundation.

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Stanford Social Innovation Review

Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) is published by the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society at Stanford University. It seeks to advance, educate, and inspire the field of social innovation by seeking out, cultivating, and disseminating the best in research- and practice-based knowledge. SSIR informs and inspires millions of social change leaders from around the world and from all sectors of society—nonprofits, business, and government.