Grounded in Purpose: BREATHwork for Breakthrough Leaders

Grounded in Purpose: BREATHwork for Breakthrough Leaders

May 25, 2023

Sharing best practices. Providing an inclusive workplace. Listening and unlearning to drive change.


These are just a few of the ways that businesses in the Certified B Corporation community are moving toward a more inclusive and regenerative economy. They also drive the team at Integrated Work in our work with partners and clients to reimagine how we live, work, and lead together daily.

Since joining the B Corp community in 2022, Integrated Work has looked for new opportunities to connect with other purpose-driven leaders to learn, share, and amplify impact. Integrated Work CEO Jennifer Simpson recently connected with other B Corp leaders at an in-person event in Portland, Oregon, hosted by WeTheChange, an organization for women and non-binary leaders at B Corps and other purpose-driven businesses.

Founded on the question “What can we do together that none of us can do alone?” WeTheChange brings together leaders with a commitment to creating an economy that serves all people and provides a forum built around inclusion and regeneration. It’s one of several U.S. and Canada B Corp networks that allow purpose-driven business leaders to connect based on industry, identity, job role, region, and more. These networks are a way for leaders across B Corps to tap into the broader community of expertise and innovation.

Integrated Work CEO Jennifer Simpson led a session on the BREATH mantra from her upcoming book the KOAN method.

Integrated Work CEO Jennifer Simpson led a session on the BREATH mantra from her upcoming book the KOAN method.

Over three days at the WeTheChange event, Simpson and others presented sessions on topics ranging from organizational practices for sustainability and resilience to personal tools for productivity and wellness. Simpson led a session on one of the leadership mantras from her upcoming book the KOAN method, which makes the case for a new and better way of leading and organizing to solve today’s most pressing problems. The book’s BREATH mantra and breathwork tool are resources that leaders can tap into during everyday tasks.

“This session helped ground the group for the morning and allowed them to explore the mantra as it applies to them as individuals and leaders,” Simpson said. “As I share in the KOAN method: ‘By leveraging the power of BREATH, and adopting it as a mantra, we can all find our way back to our best selves as we build a better world together.’”

Simpson said the BREATH mantra helps remind people of resources they can use in times of anxiety or stress to find their way back to the present, where they can be adaptive leaders. She shared six questions to guide people through the elements of BREATH — Being, Reflection, Exercise, Aspiration, Time, and Heart — that can be leveraged when people feel pressure.

Am I Being the change I wish to create?

When we focus on how we are being vs what we are doing, we find we have a wider range of choices available to us. When we are in doing mode, we adjust project plans, revise timelines, and make sure we know where to direct our ire if things don’t go to plan. When we take that first inhale and look at how we want to show up, what impact we want to have, and how we might be connected, we find space to listen deeply, practice acceptance, and cultivate empathy.

What mode of Reflection suits me best?

How often do you make space to meditate, journal, or talk to a friend or colleague? As leaders, pausing to reflect on successes and setbacks, and creating occasions to collect and review our thoughts, helps keep us alert, aware, and focused on where we want to go and what habits or patterns in our life are serving us well (or not).

How can I Exercise to energize?

Whether you are an elite athlete or have physical conditions that make it hard to get out and about, exercise is not just about overall health or a specific training regimen — it’s about learning to move your body in ways that bring you back to presence and engage the innovation centers in your brain. Look around your environment for places you can bring intentional movement into your day-to-day routine, not just in formal workouts.

What Aspiration keeps me inspired and motivated?

Getting clear on what purposes or commitments you care about helps ground you and reminds you of what really matters. It’s easy to get lost in the weeds of a project or hung up on an interaction that didn’t go the way we wish it might have, but whether our leadership “field of play” is a boardroom, a ball field, a playroom, or a community meeting, it always helps to remember what we are steering toward.

Am I spending my Time on what matters most?

Try this for a week: Notice hourly how you are spending your time. Make note of the things that go well or give you joy, and those that are draining; then make small adjustments that allow you to make time for things that are important but not urgent; and make space for what you love and people that nourish you. There isn’t a right way to do this, find your own rhythm and a routine that serves you.

Is my Heart leading the way? Am I listening?

Learning to connect with and lead from our hearts may be the most potent strategy for becoming more connected leaders. How you make people feel is one of your most powerful leadership levers. As leaders, how we are feeling ourselves and our level of connection to what our heart is telling us are directly correlated to how we impact and influence others.

Download our FREE guiding resource on The BREATH Mantra and get a preview of the KOAN method