You are among a growing community of individuals dedicated to an audacious global initiative, The Wellness Moonshot: A World Free of Preventable Disease. The Wellness Moonshot community embraces parents and educators who teach children wellness as a foundation for learning and lifetime of wellbeing, health professionals who guide patients to use wellness as part of healing illness and disease, corporate executives who integrate wellness at work to elevate the employee experience, and the many others who bring wellness to their homes and communities. Like all of our monthly articles, this is intended to help you lead with authenticity and EXTEND your impact as a wellness leader.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO EXTEND?
The word EXTEND is rooted in Latin (extendere, “to stretch out”). As wellness leaders, we put the energy of EXTEND into action in at least these three ways:
1. We extend by making something longer, wider or greater. You set an example of this when you believe in a bold wellness moonshot for yourself or your organization. For companies like Airbnb and Google, moonshot thinking means producing radical approaches to a huge problem our world faces, such as the human and economic costs of preventable diseases. Moonshot thinking requires you to extend your imagination “10X,” embracing solutions with 10 times the potential impact of incremental strategies. It also requires you to extend your courage to leap—mind, heart and action—into unheard-of aspirations in the face of people (including your own inner naysayer) telling you your wellness moonshot isn’t possible.
2. We extend by holding something out toward someone. For instance, you can extend an invitation to your life partner to join in your wellness journey or encouragement to a colleague when they lose track of theirs. When it comes to living and leading wellness, extending support is vital; whether giving information, advocacy, resources or gratitude, positive support serves as a buffer against eroding mental health. Plus, it helps people cope with stress more effectively, make life-enhancing choices, and stick with their wellness goals.
3. We extend by exerting ourselves to the utmost. UNICEF modeled this recently by calling on societal leaders to intensify their efforts to open schools globally. As the nonprofit unveiled in the Pandemic Classroom, education this past year was disrupted for 888 million children, with the most vulnerable kids and those without access to remote learning at increased wellbeing risks. Not going to school meant many children no longer had nutritious meals, mental health resources, or connections with peers. And even though education is a factor for long-term health and life satisfaction as adults, returning to the classroom, unfortunately, won’t be in the plans for some kids. According to the Global Girlhood Report 2020, the pandemic has caused “irreversible setbacks and lost progress,” as many girls, in particular, may be forced into child marriage or child labor.
The energy behind EXTEND invites us to broaden, deepen, stretch and strive. When we extend with intention and the willingness to adapt and learn, we can also grow ourselves and the people and systems we lead.
EXTENDING CAN BE TRICKY, HOWEVER
It’s common to extend too fast or too much and lose track of your wellbeing core. Perhaps you altruistically serve others, only to find yourself depleted. Or you start a new community wellness partnership that looks good on paper, but when the relationship plays out in reality, you realize you’ve comprised your values. Or, in your ambition to make a big splash, your wellness innovations lack relevance and depth.
A good question to ask is, How can you extend your wellness leadership while cultivating, rather than losing, wellbeing?
EXTEND YOUR WELLNESS LEADERSHIP WITH ACTION
Experiment with these practices to extend your wellness leadership through your team and organization—as well as your own life.
Leading Your Team and Organization
Extend your wellness moonshot. Balloon-powered internet service, space travel, virtual reality technologies, and DNA fingerprinting are just a few of today’s products and experiences that were once idealistic moonshot ideas. Take a step back from the wellness moonshot you’ve created with your team or organization, and ask, Does it address a thorny problem that matters to the wellbeing of people and the planet as well as us? Are we bringing courageous 10X thinking to it? Have we made it a genuine priority? Based on your responses, expand your wellness moonshot to set a new course for your wellness aspirations.
Extend your impact through others. No one person or organization will create a world free of preventable disease alone. It will take all of us. So, one of our key roles as wellness leaders is to build the leadership capabilities of others. Mentor employees to lead wellness initiatives. Organize a network of wellness leaders to support one another in your town or region. Seek opportunities to train young people to lead wellness while growing their wellbeing; you’d be surprised at the original and creative strategies they adopt—approaches you can learn from, too.
Extend your wonder. Write down a difficulty you face as a wellness leader, for example, how hard it is to get some colleagues or family members to take wellness seriously. No matter how confounding your situation is, ask, Can I extend a sense of wonder to it? This means asking questions from true curiosity, seeking points of view that differ from your own, and shifting from an either/or to a both/and mindset so that you can see the situation more fully. Extending your wonder also means seeing the beauty and learning inherent in the difficulty—it may be a ripe opportunity for growth not just for others but also for you.
Extend a hand. During the pandemic, many of us found ourselves operating from emotional contraction, an internal lockdown matching the external lockdowns happening in countries around the world. If that describes you, think about one (or more) of these four kinds of support that would most help you shift to an expansive way of being. Ask for help. Now, ask family, friends and workmates what kind of support they need, too. With compassion and without expectation, reach out with support for them. As Japanese writer Ryunosuke Satoro says, “Extend a hand whether or not you know it shall be grasped.”
Extend from your wellbeing core. Who you are and how you lead has a significant impact on the wellbeing of others. Without awareness, it can be easy to lead wellness from reactivity—and unwittingly amplify the very stress you’re trying to alleviate and transform. Set yourself up to lead from inner wellbeing by participating in life-giving daily practices, such as breathing mindfully and getting clear about the real intentions driving you. As yoga guru B.K.S. Iyengar teaches, “Do not think of yourself as a small, compressed suffering thing. Think of yourself as graceful and expanding…” That means acting from your wellbeing core.
EXTEND YOUR REACH THROUGH THIS COMMUNITY
The Wellness Moonshot: A World Free of Preventable Disease Initiative is a platform for extending your wellness leadership. Tell us your story using #wellnessmoonshot on social media about how you are reaching beyond what you thought possible to enhance wellness for yourself and others—we’ll spread your inspiration to wellness leaders worldwide. And remember to join the GWI’s Wellness Moonshot celebration on May 26 to connect and learn from others!
Next month, we’ll touch on what it means to INCLUDE the many aspects of you in your wellness leadership strategies. Until then, check out each of these Wellness Moonshot articles from past years with invaluable insights and strategies to support you on your journey.