Compassionate problem solvers experience flow in action through social innovation, resilience, hope and entrepreneurial skills
Interview with Elaine France, Founder, Flow In Action
“We are at climate tipping points that are calling on us to do things differently; to embrace being fully human, to reconnect with our- selves, others and the planet that supports us, to understand what it is to flourish.” – Elaine France
Tell me about You. What did you do before?
I am a coach and consultant specialising in resilience and entrepreneurship for sustainability. I live in the Swiss Alps, in Valais. This is my base and I travel for work within Switzerland and overseas. I’m from the UK and spent my career in London, working on social change in government advisory, NGOs, public sector and social enterprise. I came to Switzerland to visit some friends in 2011 for a two-week ski break and have been here ever since.
My passion is connecting people to their wellbeing, so that they are happier and healthier and have the tools to create solutions which sustain people and planet. My first professional qualification as a librarian, taught me to show people how to find answers. This has been the foundation stone of my work in strategic business development for social change.
What inspired you to set it up? What lead to you starting this business?
Having spent 17 years living in London, I needed to be in nature. I wanted to stay in the mountains because that is where I experienced wellbeing, flow, joy and resilience. So, I took a leap of faith, started to explore these concepts and how they linked to taking action for the planet, changing how we consume and do business…and that is how it all started.
Tell me about Flow In Action. What problems are you solving? Who benefits? How does it work?
Flow In Action helps youth, educators, leaders and entrepreneurs as global citizens, to take action for the planet. We give you the tools to experience ‘flow’ – the pure joy of creating solutions – to become compassionate problem-solvers in your communities. First, we connect you to your wellbeing to increase your creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship skills; and then show you how to imagine and build projects and businesses, designing them around what we know increases flourishing of people and planet.
It brings together my 25 years of social innovation expertise with Positive Psychology tools, to place flourishing at the centre of making positive impact for people and planet.
We all want a happier and healthier planet, so designing lives and businesses around flourishing, is better economics for everyone. This does not come from consuming more but from learning how to love yourself first, so that you become open-hearted, connected to others, spend time in nature and recognise your inter – dependence with it. You have to practice wellbeing, in order to know how to create really authentic, powerful solutions around it. This comes from being deeply connected to your unique blend of imagination and creativity – as your life purpose, empowering you to be that problem-solver.
You also do a lot of youth work, what can you tell us about it?
Globally, children and youth are stating their anxieties about the climate catastrophe. I work with them to increase their wellbeing and mental health, through Learn to Move Mountains® activities which connect them to their unique blend of creativity. Empowering them as problem-solvers for the planet, regardless of academic ability.
It is breath-taking to see them play with ideas when I set them innovation challenges around the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The approach embeds resilience, hope and practical entrepreneurial skills for taking action as global citizens. The positive impact is immediate, there is such contagious joy as they generate solutions in these ‘change-maker spaces.’
I work with schools, partner with UNCTAD in Geneva to deliver workshops to inspire youth entrepreneurship, design curricula and innovation challenges, and train educators as changemakers, to facilitate activities for healthy campuses. And I go into innovation and entrepreneur – ship educational settings, incubator and accelerator programmes and businesses, to run ‘resilience for the innovator and entrepreneur’s journey’ workshops and 1-1 coaching.
Turning an idea into a self-sustaining business is full of challenges. Having the technical solution is essential but it is the human element – ditching your ego, being open to learning, knowing how to overcome failure and set-backs, practicing flourishing – which keeps you moving forward to succeed. It is a groundswell of more love as a social mission, the start of change, the seed of incredible ideas.
What is the main source of inspiration for you?
Being in Nature is my inspiration and where I get my best ideas. I go ‘mountain energy bathing’ by taking a walk every day and most evenings. And being connected to friends and family. Relationships are the lynch pin in our wellbeing, so talking, having fun, sharing our lives is fundamental to our wellbeing. I am inspired by so many people who dare to be authentic, who create the space for others to have ideas and be open-hearted.