Leading from Within

Leading from Within

Conscious Social Change and Mindfulness for Social Innovation

By Gretchen Ki Steidle

A roadmap for integrating mindfulness into every aspect of social change: how to lead transformation with compassion for the needs and perspectives of all people.





A roadmap for integrating mindfulness into every aspect of social change: how to lead transformation with compassion for the needs and perspectives of all people.

Gretchen Steidle knows first-hand the personal transformation that mindfulness practice can bring. But she doesn't believe that transformation stops at personal wellbeing. In Leading from Within, Steidle describes the ways that personal investment in self-awareness shapes leaders who are able to inspire change in others, build stronger relationships, and design innovative and more sustainable solutions. Steidle argues that both personal and societal transformation are essential for a just society, and with this book she offers a roadmap for integrating mindfulness into every aspect of social change. Conventional methods attempt to compel people to change through incentives or punitive measures. Conscious social change calls for leading with a deeper human understanding of change and compassion for the needs and perspectives of all stakeholders.

Steidle offers mindfulness practices for individuals and groups, presents the neuroscientific evidence for its benefits, and argues for its relevance to social change. She describes five capacities of conscious social change, devoting a chapter to each. She writes about her own experiences, including her work helping women to found their own grassroots social ventures in post-conflict Africa. She describes the success of a group of rural, uneducated women in Rwanda, for example, who now provide 9,000 villagers with clean water, ending the sexual exploitation of disabled women unable to collect water on their own. Steidle also draws from the work of change agents in the United States to showcase applications of conscious social change to timely issues like immigration, racism, policing, and urban violence. Through personal stories and practical guidance, Steidle delivers both the inspiration and tools of this innovative approach to social transformation.

About Global Grassroots:  In post-conflict Africa, Global Grassroots equips emerging women leaders, including war survivors, subsistence farmers, and the undereducated, with the tools and resources to create conscious social change. Our core program is our Academy for Conscious Change, a social entrepreneurship and mindfulness-based leadership program that helps vulnerable women design their own non-profit solutions to address priority social issues. In our first decade of operations we have trained over 650 change agents who have designed 150 civil society organizations benefiting over 150,000 people.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262037198 264 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 6 b&w illus.


$19.95 T ISBN: 9780262536189 264 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 6 b&w illus.


  • Gretchen Steidle's approach to applying mindfulness and empathy to social entrepreneurship will help you lead, innovate, and advance social change effectively and happily.

    Bill Drayton

    Founder and CEO, Ashoka

  • Many are uncertain about the relationship between mindfulness practice and social change—they seem so different, in intent and application—can they possibly enhance one another? If you would like to see how powerfully they can come together, this book is for you. Through her experience and understanding of each, Gretchen Steidle illuminates the vast potential held in pursuing both.

    Sharon Salzberg

    author of Real Happiness and Real Love

  • Gretchen Steidle leads us on a journey from self inquiry to large scale social change. Leading from Within offers critical tools for building authentic relationships and collaborating effectively to advance systemic change. As a passionate advocate for contemplative practice and systems entrepreneurship, I recommend this book as a must-read for any change leader, including business executives, policy makers, and front-line practitioners.

    Jeffrey C. Walker

    Chair, New Profit and co-author of The Generosity Network

  • Gretchen Steidle is one of the leading figures in the world working on the interface of social change and contemplation, and offers a powerful model here of contemplative leadership, as well as transformative practices to foster it in oneself and others.  I highly recommend this work for anyone with the slightest interest in the convergence of leadership, social innovation, and contemplation.

    David Germano

    Professor of Religious Studies and Executive Director of the Contemplative Sciences Center, University of Virginia