In 2017 a special man told me our hearts run the orchestra of our lives. He said no matter how beautiful I looked, he will always want to know how my heart is. I thought he was simply being sweet and romantic. But as the years passed, I realized the power of his words and that checking in on our hearts is one of the most powerful things we can do.

If you reflect on the number of times someone asked you, “How are you?” but never really waited to hear the answer, you will likely realize the number is sadly high. This question has become more of a formality and no longer carries the true essence of the question meant to embody curiosity and community. That is why I have retired the “How are you?” question and replaced it with “How is your heart?”. I use this in both my professional and personal worlds because I choose to work with people who are tapped into their whole being and not just their minds. With this, I do recognize I live in a micro bubble of people who are comfortable bringing their full selves to both their personal and professional worlds. However, the importance of this today has increased as we see mental health issues on the rise in all sectors and industries especially in entrepreneurship. There are many causes of the increase in mental health issues, but one of them, I believe, is our disconnect to our whole selves, which is led by the heart.

Thankfully I see this micro bubble of bringing your whole self expanding in the business world, where the notion of checking in our hearts has become less foreign in workplace environments. For example, in December 2019, I participated in the BMW Foundation Responsible Leaders Network, where 400 global leaders gathered to connect on global problems and solutions. Before we dived into the sustainable development goals, the BMW Foundation team organized a series of exercises where we connected with the very ground that carried us, the sky that keeps nourishing our earth, the other Responsible Leaders who keep us in community and with our individual selves who are linked to all of it. One of the exercises that impacted me the most was to place my hand on a fellow Responsible Leader’s heart who I did not meet before and to look at their eyes. The organizers told us not to speak but focus on listening to the person’s heart and eyes through pure connection and silence. Many of us cried, some of us laughed, but I believe all of us felt nourished because we connected to the essential component of the other – their hearts, even if for a brief moment.

Photo by Marc Beckmann, at the BMW Foundation Responsible Leaders Network Global gathering in Mérida.

Simarlily at NEXUS, a community that brings together impact investors, philanthropists, and social entrepreneurs to tackle global problems, checking in our hearts has become less foreign. During their recent NEXUS USA Summit, all the people I spoke with were thrilled when I asked them, “How is your heart?”. Most NEXUS delegates took moments to reflect on the importance of this question as every single person in the room was there to create social change, and were aware that no sustainable change can happen without an empowered and healthy heart.

The question of how do we sustain an empowered and healthy heart is for another article, but it does start by simply asking the question and making space for checking in on your own heart first. Slowly, one will have the courage, curiosity, and space to be able to ask that question to the people one loves and eventually even to acquaintances and strangers. It is my personal belief that there are no true strangers because we all live in the same home, our mother earth. Today we are all called to unite in genuine conversations and community during these difficult times where COVID-19 impacts the world. We must remember how intertwined we are, how fragile sometimes we are but equally how strong we can be together.

I hope during these times we all step up for ourselves and the other and make space for checking in on our hearts. Our heart, after all, as that special man said, is the maestro of the orchestra of our lives. Here is a song that spoke to me as I wrote this. Step by step, day by day we can live in deeper harmony with our own hearts and the others. So now tell me, how is your heart?


  • Aida Murad

    Entrepreneur Coach

    Aida Murad is an Entrepreneur Coach focused on founder well-being, an artist and passionate connector. She has worked for over a decade building social enterprises in the US and MENA region in education, fashion, food, health and technology industries. She is a firm believer in the power of creative industries to create social change and to showcase that she organized the first festival in the US to celebrate refugees talents in the creative industries. Previously, Aida co-founded a sustainable fashion company, managed over $300m in philanthropic and development funds for the public and private sectors as well as designed youth and entrepreneurship programs globally.

    She is a recipient of the 2017 FHI 360 Impact Award for Woman Leadership, 2017 Most Voted RAW Artist, 2017 Inaugural artist for GoARTful and 2016 FHI Emerging Leaders. Aida appears regularly on global TV networks and platforms including Harvard University, Reuters, Voice of America and TRT World speaking on the power of will in adversity. Today she spends her time advising social enterprises and foundations, serving as Co-Director for NEXUS MENA & Arab Diaspora, creating socially impactful art and writing for Thrive Global.