Moral ambition isn’t enough

In recent weeks a lot has been discussed and written about the new book Moral Ambition by Rutger Bregman and The School for Moral Ambition. I welcome this discussion. It probably won’t be the right tone for everyone. But in essence it is a call to use our time and talents for social and sustainable change. And that is highly needed. 

However, with only moral ambition and people who dedicate their active time to do good, we won’t make enough impact. Since the beginning of my career, I have worked for organizations with a strong moral ambition. After studying Cultural Organization and Management, I could have started working as a well-paid consultant within a large corporate. 

However, I chose a different, less easy path, namely working within international cooperation and various NGOs that wanted to make a social difference. I wanted to contribute to organizations that want to make a difference, make a sustainable impact for people and the planet. In the beginning I worked specifically within HIV/AIDS prevention, but later other topics were discussed such as climate, education and access to data for sustainable development.

As you can read, the so-called “moral ambition” was there from an early age. Still, I didn’t always feel I did meaningful work. I wondered about my role. Which role really suited me? How do I use my talents and strengths? How do I respect my energy and boundaries in an environment where there is always something more urgent? 

In the moments where I was really using my strengths, I can honestly say that I managed to add value. But I was certainly not always successful in my work. In addition, I often wondered: are these organizations I work for really the “good” things? Or do they actually maintain systems?

People around me worked with equally high, perhaps even higher, moral ambitions. What perseverance and drive I have seen in people, both in the Netherlands and far beyond. Despite these ambitions, I also saw many people completely empty of work. Including by building up activities that do not really suit them. By taking on a lot of responsibility. Don’t dare to set boundaries. I also saw managers struggling with their roles and sometimes making serious mistakes. Budgets were often limited to really invest in leadership and team development. In short, a lot of hassle at an organizational, team and strategic level.

Fortunately, it really wasn’t as gloomy as I wrote above. I have seen many fantastic projects emerge, where people listened with all their talents, passion and energy to make a difference. To get into this flow, you need to be strongly connected to yourself. You have to collaborate with people and deal with resistance. You also should take the right place or position in the system. And also get the opportunity to develop and learn. People who know how to make a big impact are often strongly connected to themselves and to others. 

I call this: standing fully in your circle.

If you stand in your circle, then you can give much more often to others. Your values and talents come into their own in your circle. Then you and your circle are also in the right place in a team and organization. In addition, you can recognize your “dragons” or negative inner beliefs and know how to deal with them. 

It is actually impossible to miss those dragons, because the work is complex, intense and sometimes strongly politically driven. The social and ecological changes we want to make are not simple. It requires a long-term vision, courage, creativity and endurance. This demands something from you and that is why it is important to take care of yourself. This is the only way you will remain in your circle.

My addition to the moral ambition is moral internal development and care. If you make the choice to commit yourself to something, then I’m sure all kinds of beautiful developments will emerge. In addition to this, make sure you get enough rest and space. Make sure you continue to connect with yourself and with others. And make sure that you stand and remain in your circle and in your strength.

If you’re working on this, try drawing three circles like in the picture above. From Me, to We, to E(environment). The inner circle represents your circle. The middle circle represents the people you work with. The outer circle represents the systems you are part of.

ME: Then name your values, your talents and which place best matches your past. If you do not know this well, you can be given time and space here to gain a better understanding of this.

WE: Then name the collaborative relationships with others and circle in green where things are going well and red where things are going poorly. If there are a lot of red circles, you may have something to do there.

E: Finally, indicate in which systems you want to make an impact and how you relate to this.

If you want to know more about your circle or the strength of your team, take a look at @colourfields. Together with my colleagues, we develop various programs for groups and teams and we coach people 1-1 to help them fully participate in their circle.



Ik coach vaak changemakers. Maar wie bedoel ik daar nu precies mee? Changemakers zijn diegene die zich met flinke regelmaat inzetten voor verandering in de maatschappij. Of dit nu gericht is op onderwijs of zorg, mensenrechten of klimaat, maatschappelijk verantwoord ondernemen binnen bedrijven of werken in de wetenschap, het zijn mensen die gedreven worden om te werken aan een mooiere en betere toekomst. Ze zijn bezig met duurzame oplossingen te bedenken en uit te voeren. Ze streven ernaar om medemenselijk te organiseren. 


Vaak zijn dit de mensen die al lang aan het bedenken en/of uitvoeren zijn, waar het in de politieke arena’s ellenlang over gaat. Deze mensen hebben een drive, doorzettingsvermogen en moed om te kiezen voor een vak, banen en sectoren die niet altijd de makkelijkste zijn. 


Changemakers zijn veelal supergoed in het zorgen voor anderen. En kunnen zich met veel energie inzetten voor grotere systemische veranderingen. Doordat ze gericht zijn op het welzijn van de ander, ontbreekt het soms aan tijd en ruimte voor zichzelf. Terwijl juist zij degenen zijn die af en toe ook moeten opladen. Alleen zo kunnen ze weer met tomeloze inzet en energie het werk doen waar ze in geloven. 


Sommige changemakers lopen na een tijdje tegen loopbaanvragen aan, zoals; Past deze rol nog wel bij mij? Haal ik hier nog voldoende energie uit? Kan ik me wel verder ontwikkelen? Ik heb helaas te veel talenten zien leeglopen, omdat er weinig ruimte was voor talent en loopbaanontwikkeling. 


Ook spreek ik changemakers die zoeken naar een vorm van leiderschap die bij hen en de context waarin ze werken past. Hoe leiden ze verandering in complexe systemen? Hoe houden ze de aandacht van mensen erbij in deze veelal taaie processen? Hoe zetten ze mensen in hun kracht en vooral, hoe kunnen ze meer gaan leunen op hun eigen talenten en kwaliteiten? 


Energiebalans is ook een veel voorkomend thema. Hoe zorg je dat je niet wordt opgeslokt door alle urgente zaken om je heen. Wat als er privé ook veel aandacht nodig is, kan en durf je daar dan ruimte voor te nemen? En als het even niet zo goed met jou gaat, durf je dan zelf ook om hulp te vragen? 


In mijn praktijk zie ik regelmatig mensen met te veel stress voorbij komen. En dit is zonde! 

Ik vind dat juist deze changemakers ruimte mogen en zelfs moeten innemen om stress te reguleren. De maatschappij (wij allemaal) leunt (onbewust) op deze doorzetters. 


Herken je jezelf in dit verhaal: voel de ruimte om op te laden. Om te reflecteren. Om ruimte in te nemen. Alleen zo kan jij meer verschil maken voor jezelf, voor anderen en de grotere systemen om je heen. 


Van ME naar WE naar E(nvironment)

Me – We – E

When I reflect on my work last year, simply said it was about three dimensions:
ME – WE – E

🧘‍♀️ ME: inner development helps you to regain your strength; utilize your potential, dare to make choices and take good care of yourself. This way your energy can start flowing again and that has a direct impact on the next dimension;
🤝 WE: The relationship you have with the people around you. The better your are in flow, the greater this will have a positive effect on the people around you such as family, friends and colleagues. How do you relate to each other? How about the balance between giving and receiving from one another? How do you communicate with each other, do you listen enough? And can you support, strengthen and inspire each other?
🌎 E: How do you relate to the systems and environment in which you operate? For example, consider the organization in which you work. Is your position still correct and can you do what you need to do in this system? The same applies to larger systems such as nature. How do you relate to nature?

The reason for people to take up coaching is often that things are not flowing on one or more dimensions. This results in frustration, anxiety, lack of energy, or feeling puzzled. So my wish for 2024 is that even more inner development takes place so that it flows on the three dimensions:

From ME to WE to E.

Will 2024 be your year?
Would you like to investigate further how you can get back into a flow? Will 2024 be your year in which you really invest in yourself and therefore your environment?

Then come with me on one of these journeys;
🍀 Take an inner journey in which you really make space for yourself, dare to deepen your relationship with others and examine the systems in which you live and work. This can be done 1-1 in my coaching programs in which we delve into, land, try and anchor over a period of 3 to 6 months. I promised myself to make more time for these individual processes, as I can make the most impact in these longer trajectories. So if you feel that you want to make a difference on one or more dimensions, I think it would be great to start the journey together.

🍀 The one-day retreat – Voluit jezelf. This year, Lindy Hansma and I will give the retreat in the Hoorneboeg twice again. Last September was magical again and we have resolved to continue organizing this at least twice a year. The first date is already known: 12 July 2024. More info and dates will follow soon so stay tuned.

🍀 Four-day retreat in France, on the border of Burgundy and Champagne-Ardenne. This year we would like to welcome a small group of people to our house to deepen our insights, wisdom and unfold potential. Exact dates and details will follow soon, but it will be at the end of summer, early fall. I can’t wait to make this concrete and share it with you.

I wish you a beautiful year. Full of adventures and development.

with warm regards


Change makers reflect, reset and create

Voluit Jezelf – 2e editie

Omdat de eerste keer zo goed ontvangen is doen we het gewoon nog een keer. Samen met Lindy Hansma organiseer ik weer een one-day retraite waarin we je uitnodigen om Voluit Jezelf te zijn. Op zaterdag 30 september 2023.

Stel je voor dat je vaker, met gemak, Voluit Jezelf bent.Tijdens deze verrijkende dag is er echt tijd voor jou. Je maakt verbinding met wat in je leeft, autonoom is en waar je ruimte aan wil geven. Ook laat je los wat niet meer dient. Zo stap je vanuit je persoonlijke kracht het najaar in.

Op een prachtige locatie bij de Hoorneboeg in Hilversum, wordt je geïnspireerd en in de watten gelegd. 

Gun jezelf een mooie afsluiting van dit jaar, een moment om Voluit Jezelf te zijn. Volg deze link voor meer info en om je in te schrijven.

Happy 2023

2023 will be a year of growth. But not growth in economic terms or material things. I want to consume less stuff, buy less things. But inner growth. Inner growth to make a conscious contribution to sustainable development and organizations. I want to empower more people who make a difference for people and/or climate. Because I believe that inner growth leads to a better environment for all of us.

I wish everyone a wonderful 2023!

Voluit Jezelf!

JA het kan eindelijk de lucht in. Samen met Lindy Hansma organiseer ik aan het einde van dit jaar een one-day retraite waarin we je uitnodigen om Voluit Jezelf te zijn. Op vrijdag 23 december 2022.

Stel je voor dat je vaker, met gemak, Voluit Jezelf bent.Tijdens deze verrijkende dag is er echt tijd voor jou. Je maakt verbinding met wat in je leeft, autonoom is en waar je ruimte aan wil geven. Ook laat je los wat niet meer dient. Zo stap je vanuit je persoonlijke kracht de feestdagen en 2023 in.

Op een prachtige locatie bij de Hoorneboeg in Hilversum, wordt je geïnspireerd en in de watten gelegd. 

Gun jezelf een mooie afsluiting van dit jaar, een moment om Voluit Jezelf te zijn. Volg deze link voor meer info en om je in te schrijven.

Change Maker Zoë Papaikonomou

Zoë Papaikonomou is a journalist, researcher, teacher and writer about diversity, equity and inclusion. You have published two great books, one about inclusive journalism and one about inclusive workplaces. In this episode, Zoë shares her vision about inclusive leadership, collective vs individualistic leadership and the art to listen, be open and be vulnerable. Leadership is about creating space for other perspectives, not so much about posing your perspectives on others.


Change Maker – Ayan Biswas

Ayan Biswas is a seasoned manager and leader. He is the Regional Hub manager in East Africa for Akvo, an international NGO providing data services and technical solutions for development. Ayan shares an inspiring story about his leadership journey. From India to East Africa, from a steady comfortable position, to a complete new adventure. It is a very personal story of a transition with ups and downs. Ayan explains that leadership can be summarized in 3 key indicators: Creating Clarity, Inspiring Others and finally Unconstraining Others.



Change Maker – Onno Hamburger

I had the honour to interview Onno Hamburger, one of the thought leaders on happiness at work and leadership development. He published several books and many articles. Onno coaches people and gives advice to organisations about happiness at work. Also he trains and educates managers and Chief Happiness Officers at the academy of happiness at work and is a frequently asked guest in webinars, conferences and podcasts.

In this podcast Onno elaborates on the definition and meaning of happiness at work, and why it is important for you and for organisations to explicitly reflect frequently and create a work context that enables you to flourish. We also dream a bit and look into the future. What would be the impact on sustainable development if many change makers and leaders invest actively in happiness at work?


Change Maker – Karin Weber

Time for the second episode of the Change Makers podcast. So excited to share this with you, because I had the privilege to interview Karin Weber. Karin is the Senior Policy Advisor of the Taskforce Women’s Rights and Gender Equality at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  

She worked in various places in the world, mainly in Eastern Africa. But also in Vietnam for example. She has been involved in the work for the Dutch government, the United Nations, various NGOs and you had your own enterprise. Always striving for gender equality, sexual reproductive health and rights.

This interview is all about trusting your inner voice, taking opportunities, curiosity, and the importance of working with great managers and teams in an international work environment. 

Hope this inspires you to follow your inner voice and be your authentic self.



The Change Makers Podcast

It is with great pleasure to announce the Change Makers Podcast. I will interview inspiring change makers about leadership and happiness at work. We will discuss what it takes to drive change and what this means for personal and leadership development. The first episode is an introduction by myself, about my own river of life. This explains my framework and cultural lens. How I perceive and look upon the discours of leadership, happiness at work and sustainable development. Enjoy Listening! Double Click on the icon below or listen via Spotify or Apple podcast. http://

Why ColourFields

Why ColourFields

October 2021

A year ago, the concept of Colourfields was born and early this year I really kickstarted my coaching practice. What a fantastic journey so far, with beautiful coaching experiences, trainings and workshops. I’m exploring and learning every day, and it is a great adventure. This picture of lovely autumn colours was taken last week in France, where I had some time to relax and reflect on this amazing journey. 

It reminded me of the question: Why did I started ColourFields? 

Because I want to empower more people so they can make more impact. See if you can be more happier in your work and life. Let your leadership flourish, so that you can generate more impact for yourself , the people around you, your organization and your environment.

Why the name ColourFields? 

Last summer, sunset, with a glass of wine on our terrace in our house in France. We were brainstorming about names and……ColourFields was born: 
ColourFields refers to the horizon; to colour, growth and diversity. 
In addition, it is a symbolic link to the art movement “colour field”. This art movement strived to rise above fixed shapes and mindsets. A nice metaphor for coaching and training. 
Finally, it is a reference to my surname, van der Velden; Velden being the Dutch word for Fields.

5 x A

Over the last months, I spoke with several people that were out of energy and stressed. Not sure where it started, not sure how to solve it. Instead of doing the things they love doing, they focussed on work that drained energy and felt that they were out of control. Although rationally thinking, they were perfectly capable of understanding that relaxing, or other outside work activities would improve their wellbeing. But it was so hard to create space to relax while feeling stressed and had so much work to do. How to turn the wheel around if you do not feel you have time or headspace to turn it around?

Most of the time you cannot solve work pressure on your own. However, there are things you change within your scope of control. You can start turning the wheel around. 

  1. Accept that you are not working optimally at the moment. By ignoring the fact that something is not going well, you deny your wellbeing. In the end, this will not help you to get sustainable results. Most likely the situation will not change by itself. 
  2. Appreciate your acceptance and feeling of vulnerability. It is not perfect now, but the fact that you acknowledge the situation is the biggest step. This situation will bring you new insights, ideas, wisdom, knowledge, and a compass to navigate. 
  3. Allow yourself to take time to figure out what you need. Talk about these issues with peers, friends, family, coach, manager, or boss. See if they can support you in doing things differently or changing the system around you that changes the situation. 
  4. Amplify the things that give you energy in work and outside work. This prevents stress better compared to only focussing on the problems you face. It enables you to recharge your battery and take the wheel and drive. If you feel healthy, fit, and have a positive mindset, you are much better equipped to face challenges and stress. 
  5. Applaud the fact that you are in this process of change, applaud the fact that you try new things, applaud the fact that you take care of yourself.
Accept, Appreciate, Allow, Amplify and Applaud

Behind the Wheel

What intrigues me is the balance between happiness and unhappiness. The two are always connected. Only sometimes one is more dominant over the other.

Striving for happiness, without unhappy moments, does not exist in my opinion. It is our resilience that makes it easier to embrace moments of unhappiness. In times of lockdown and a lot of uncertainty around us, our resilience is sometimes put to the test.

When I talk to my coachees, they often start to appreciate unhappiness moments. Frustration, anger or fear are recognized. They are not pushed away anymore. It often provides insight and provides a key to approach things differently.

You are behind the wheel again, instead of led by negative patterns that we all have in our backpack. By trying to do things differently, and being open to small experiments in your daily life, makes you build up your resilience. Those small steps help you to break through patterns and anchor new ones.

Do you want to know more about this and you want to break through some patterns, send me a PM for intro meeting (free of charge)  

Weer achter het stuur zitten

Wat me intrigeert is de balans tussen geluk en ongeluk. De twee zijn altijd verbonden in mijn ogen. Alleen heeft de een soms de overhand op de ander. Maar het streven naar geluk, zonder ongeluk bestaat volgens mij niet.

Het is de veerkracht die maakt dat je momenten van ongeluk beter kan omarmen. In tijden van lockdown en veel onzekerheid om ons heen, wordt deze veerkracht soms op de proef gesteld.

Er ontstaat er vaak waardering voor ongeluk of ongelukkige momenten tijdens mijn coachingssessies. Frustratie, boosheid of angst worden herkend door de coachees. Ze mogen zijn in plaats van weg te drukken.  

Het geeft vaak inzicht en een sleutel om dingen anders te bekijken en aan te pakken. Zo zit je weer achter het stuur, in plaats van de negatieve patronen die we nou eenmaal in onze rugzak hebben zitten.

Juist door dingen anders te doen, te proberen en open staan voor kleine experimenten in je dagelijks leven, maakt het dat je de veerkracht opbouwt. Het zijn die kleine stapjes die patronen doorbreken en nieuwe patronen verankeren.

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