On January 12, Lynne Twist, Conscious Capitalism Inc. board member and Founder of the Soul of Money Institute, had a conversation with our CEO Karen Sammon about pursuing your own Higher Purpose and making an impact on the world.
Over the course of a lifetime of philanthropy Lynne found her Higher Purpose as an activist, having been recognized for her work in combatting poverty, food insecurity, climate change, and a number of social issues. Lynne and Karen’s insightful conversation covered a lot of ground, but below are our three main takeaways from this discussion.
Find and pursue your passion
Finding what excites you is much easier said than done. Some people spend their entire lives searching for purpose while others seem to know what they want from a young age.
Sometimes it takes trial and error to find your personal Higher Purpose. It can be scary to jump into a new field without much experience, whether you’re a young person looking for your first job or someone who has work experience but is looking for something new. Lynne shared that fear but didn’t allow it to stop her. Lynne described when she first joined The Hunger Project in 1977: “I wasn’t qualified, I hadn’t gone to graduate school, but I was passionate, I was inspired, and that carries you a long, long way.”
This passion carried Lynne to incredible opportunities to help people around the globe. She primarily worked in southern Asia to alleviate hunger and starvation. She witnessed the results of imperialism and extreme resource extraction. Deforestation had ravaged the region and food insecurity was a pressing issue. By taking the jump and getting into a field in which she had no experience, Lynne made a tremendous impact and felt incredible doing so. “It’s like when a big idea shows up and resonates in your heart, even if it’s way bigger than you could possibly imagine, the power of that pulls you out of your little life starring you, and all your petty concerns go in the background,” she explained.
Don’t be afraid of transformation
As we grow and change as people, so too do our interests. It’s natural and expected, but it doesn’t stop some people from worrying or even questioning their identity. Lynne wrestled with this when she transitioned from working on food insecurity in Asia to climate issues facing indigenous tribes in South America. She asked herself if this was betraying the people she’d worked with and the efforts she’d led. In the end, however, Lynne determined that it was for the best. “If you look back at your own life, the growth spurts you’ve had have almost always come from a breakdown,” Lynne shared. “Steel is not tempered in the sunshine; it’s tempered in the heat of the furnace.”
After making the career pivot, Lynne was able to shift her perspective. During her work combatting hunger in Asia, Lynne had only been a witness to the results of imperialism and deforestation but in South America she saw opportunity to impact those areas. Obviously the region struggled with similar issues, but Lynne noticed it was not as far along the road to calamity. In South America she saw the opportunity to work proactively to combat these issues before they truly devastated the region, rather than giving support after much of the damage had already occurred. This energized Lynne and propelled her to even greater accomplishments.
Never stop learning, never lose perspective
One important moment in Lynne’s personal journey toward her own Higher Purpose came recently. A friend of hers was affected by a climate disaster in California and was part of a mandatory evacuation effort. Despite the friend being financially well off she became a climate refugee, having to sleep on a cot in a gymnasium and eat at a soup kitchen nearby. Despite the unfortunate circumstances, Lynne’s friend viewed this as an opportunity to learn. She felt privileged to have had this experience because it allowed her to empathize with the climate refugees around the world and reinforced the notion that this is a crisis facing everyone; even those that can temporarily buy their way out of the climate crisis will be impacted eventually unless we collectively push for change.
Lynne calls these negative events feedback and sees them as opportunities for growth. “If we can see it as feedback rather than something wrong then we will recalibrate business with the manifesto and the principles of Conscious Capitalism.”
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