Woman walking in field in Canada

Video: Inner Work

Becoming our most effective selves

We all have inner obstacles that prevent us from becoming our most effective selves - whether brought on by social conditioning, past trauma, or even burnout. But seldom do we take the time and space to examine and overcome them.

Synergos’ Marilia Bezerra talks about inner work: the work we do on ourselves to remove barriers that prevent us from realizing our full potential and purpose.

Inner work - or personal reflection - is a core element of the Synergos approach to bridging leadership. We believe that understanding others starts with looking inward to first understand ourselves.

 

Transcript

Climate change. Poverty. Inequality.

If we want to solve complex problems we need to collaborate with other people, communities and organizations.

But effective collaboration depends on trust.

And trust doesn’t just happen-it has to be built.

Hi, I’m Marilia Bezerra at Synergos, where we support and grow trust-builders.

We call them bridging leaders - the kinds of leaders with the purpose, skills, and sensitivities needed to foster deep trust and build transformative partnerships.

Inner work - or personal reflection - is a core element of the Synergos approach to bridging leadership.

We believe that understanding others starts with looking inward to first understand ourselves.

We describe inner work as the work we do on ourselves to remove barriers that prevent us from realizing our full potential and purpose.

We all have inner obstacles that prevent us from becoming our most effective selves - whether brought on by social conditioning, past trauma, or even burnout.

But seldom do we take the time and space to examine and overcome them.

When we do, we become better at building trust across divides, and creating meaning in our lives.

It’s surprising how many of us go about our work without a clear sense of purpose- a deeper meaning behind why we do what we do.

Sometimes we start out with purpose but get derailed by life’s demands, becoming bogged down by cynicism or stuck in a rut.

Losing our sense of purpose also keeps us from accessing our most effective selves.

Inner work isn’t a one-time event, but a practice. Personal reflection allows us to connect again and again to our deepest sense of purpose, both in our personal lives and in our work in the world.

Inner work is also about developing skills - the kinds of skills we need for creating inclusive and high-impact collaborations.

One essential skill is self-awareness. Self-awareness begins with understanding our strengths and weaknesses.

Becoming more aware of ourselves, and recognizing weaknesses we’d rather ignore, makes us more capable of building and inspiring trust.

Another essential skill is empathy. Empathy is the ability to deeply connect with and understand another person’s perspective - even when it conflicts with our own.

Collaboration often requires working with people who come from different contexts - with different beliefs and perspectives.

Leaders with strong empathy skills can connect across divides - turning diversity into an asset for generating innovative solutions.

So what does inner work actually look like in practice?

It can take many forms. It can start with something as simple as taking a walk, finding quiet time in the day, or spending time alone in nature.

We also apply inner work to organizations and partnerships.

At Synergos, we use practices like journaling exercises, dialogue walks, one-on-one coaching, and wilderness retreats.

We also run workshops, leadership retreats, and offer ongoing advisory support.

Inner work can seem like an abstract concept, but it contributes to very tangible outcomes.

At Synergos we’ve used it as a tool in our development programs, which have achieved results like reducing malnutrition in India, improving maternal health in Namibia, and transforming agriculture in Ethiopia and Nigeria.

We believe that when individuals within a system become their best selves the entire system improves.

Inner work grounds us in a deep sense of purpose and empowers us to trust daringly and collaborate deeply, to create lasting change.