Cultivate Connection

We are living in uncertain times, but one truth has emerged as an organizing principle for this era: interdependence. We are all in this together. New systems conditions require new leadership capacities. As Albert Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems from the same thinking we used when we created them,” and we believe that we cannot build a new economy without tapping into a deeper level of our humanity, of who we really are and who we want to be as a society.

Now new science looking at wellbeing and happiness has shown us that humans feel deeply well primarily in four scenarios. Universally, we feel well when we are: connected to each other, connected to the natural world, connected to our purpose, and when we’ve been generous. In other words, when we’ve experienced interdependence. So not only does our era require recognition of our interdependence, it is actually fundamental to our human-ness. It is what makes us well.


And, as described by Dr. Karma Ura, the designer of the Gross National Happiness (GNH) framework for Bhutan, “the ability to feel and act from interdependence can be cultivated.” In choosing to link to the idea of wellbeing, we aim to move beyond “less bad,” beyond CSR, beyond competing to be the most sustainable and toward humanity at our best.

Cultivating Connection in business asks three questions:

  1. is our product or service of inherent value,
  2. how much is ‘enough’ for the ‘owners’, and
  3. what do we do with the rest to maximize wellbeing for the most?

The ability to innovate around these questions comes from putting individual transformation at the center of the shift. In other words, from leaders who recognize compassion is a practice – and who are practicing it in every aspect of their lives.

How we do our work is as important as what we do, and in all of the communities of practice we host (including the Local Economy Fellowship, the Local Economy Investors Circle, the Community Foundation Circle, as well as the Annual Conference), we use transformational development processes to support leaders in catalyzing the courage of their hearts – a necessary condition for the emergence of a new economy.



Additional Resources

  • Well-Being in Business: Innovating from a Place of Compassion Webinar – Dacher Keltner, Erin Kilmner Neel, Michelle Long
  • BALLE is working with the Presencing Institute and MIT on the Global Wellbeing and Gross National Happiness (GNH) Labs. Watch the video.
  • In Spring 2015, BALLE partnered with East Bay Sustainable Business Alliance, Greater Good Science Center, Service Space, Impact Hub Oakland, and the Pacific School of Religion’s Center for Spiritual and Social Transformation to pilot the Well-Being in Business Lab in Oakland. Our focus is on transforming business to maximize well-being for all.
  • Marina Gorbis explains magic, soul and inspiration in her November 2013, Stanford Social Innovation Review column, “Seemingly small events creating ripple effects that produce long-lasting changes.”
  • Read this compelling blog by social visionary Duane Elgin on the power of compassion and story for building resilience in local living economies
  • A collaborative project published by RSF Social Finance, Building Regenerative Communities: Strength in Collaboration is a useful resource and guide for hosting conversations and building collaboration in your community.