91: How to Live a Committed Life & Raise Money from the Heart with Lynne Twist

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“I believe this is the Sophia Century, the century when women will take our rightful role in co-equal partnership with men and the world will come into balance.”

– Lynne Twist
Episode #91


In this episode of What the Fundraising Podcast…

15 years ago Lynne Twists’ first book – The Soul of Money – completely changed the trajectory of my life, and is the foundation for much of the work I do today. It is one of my greatest honors to get to interview someone who has been so instrumental in changing the course of my life and my relationship with money.

Today, Lynne is challenging us to reconsider commitment – the role it plays in our work as nonprofit leaders and the power it has to fuel deep, systemic change. Over the course of her extraordinary 40-year career, Lynne has been recognized as a global visionary whose innovative ideas challenge received wisdom. In addition to co-founding The Pachamama Alliance, she is the founder of the Soul of Money Institute – as well as the author of the book by the same name which I mentioned above radically altered the course of my life. And now, at a moment in which she sees institutions ripe for transformation, Lynne is out with an inspiring new book, “Living a Committed Life: Finding Freedom and Fulfillment in a Purpose Larger Than Yourself.”

In this far-reaching conversation, we explore the pillars of commitment as well as the importance of heart-centered fundraising. In this conversation, Lynne explains how she has managed to raise multi-millions over the years, undeterred by rejection: “You make a commitment, and then out of that commitment you hone yourself, or the commitment hones you, into the kind of person you need to be to fulfill it.” The kind of person Lynne is  can only be described as formidable. She radiates a sense of mission and asks us to bring every bit as much intention and intensity to our own efforts to serve. We discuss why Lynne gravitates towards – not away from – suffering; how to avoid burnout by staying connected to our purpose; and what it means when the opposite of scarcity is simply having enough – sufficiency. Lynne’s empowering vision of commitment calls upon – and empowers – us to become the people we need to be in order to fulfill the epic global moment we are in.





Get to know Lynne:

For more than 40 years, Lynne Twist has been a recognized global visionary committed to alleviating poverty and hunger and supporting social justice and environmental sustainability. From working with Mother Teresa in Calcutta to the refugee camps in Ethiopia and the threatened rainforests of the Amazon, Lynne’s on-the-ground work has brought her a deep understanding of the social tapestry of the world and the historical landscape of the times we are living in. She is an award-winning speaker, author, fundraiser extraordinaire, consultant, executive coach, global activist and sought-after interview for media appearances. Her widely-acclaimed book, The Soul of Money, Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Life is its second edition.


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episode transcript

02:23 Mallory: Welcome everyone. I could not be more excited today to be here with Lynne Twist. Lynne, welcome to What the Fundraising. 

02:33 Lynne: Oh, thank you very much for having me. I’m delighted to be here. 

02:37 Mallory: Well, I have talked about you and your work and your first book, the Soul of Money for about 15 years nonstop. Everyone who has known me for that period of time is listening to this like, oh my gosh, here she goes again. I would just love to have you share a little bit about your work and your journey with everyone who is getting to meet you for the first time today. 

02:57 Lynne: My name is Lynne Twist. I’m the president of something called the Soul of Money Institute, which is based on the book you just mentioned, the Soul of Money about relationships with money in life, because it’s such a troubling relationship for almost everybody. And so, we work with people of enormous wealth and people that cannot rub two nickels together, and everybody in between to transform their relationship with money and the money culture. And then I’m also the co-founder of the Pachamama Alliance, work we do in the Amazon Rainforest with 30 indigenous nations in the sacred Headwaters region of Ecuador and Peru. And then out of Pachamama Alliances encounter with these amazing indigenous people, we’ve created educational programs that go all over the world in 88 countries and are also all online. I also do courses with anyone about money and life, but also do a lot of courses on women because I believe this is the Sophia Century, the century when women will take our rightful role in co-equal partnership with men and a world will come into balance. And then finally, I’ve just written a new book called Living a Committed Life, and I am a grandmother and I’m a mom, and I’m a sister and a daughter, and I have wonderful children and wonderful grandchildren, and I live in San Francisco. 

04:08 Mallory: And yeah, we’ll talk about all of that today. Let’s start with the book, and I would love it if you would tell everyone a little bit about the word commitment, because you’re defining of that in the book is so helpful and some of the pillars of what commitment look like to really give folks a look inside what does it mean to live a committed life. And then we’ll dig into some of the other favorite moments and takeaways from it. 

04:34 Lynne: The word commitment has many, many dimensions to it, and it’s very consistent with purpose or what you stand for or what you declare yourself to be, what you give your word to. And I think that’s a whole domain in which where we create our life. I feel that living a life of commitment or what I’m calling a committed life gives you incredible freedom and fulfillment. Many people think that making a commitment to something or making a big commitment to a task or a job, or even a mission, which is really what I’m recommending, is a trap and then you can’t do anything else. But I find it to be just the opposite. Sometimes we try to keep all our options open, and that has us sort of moving from side to side and in some way paralyzed and not able to move forward. But when we realize that we’re being called to something, that we have a vision larger than our own life starring us, a vision that actually makes a difference in the world, a difference that is meaningful to us and meaningful to the world, it aligns your whole life. And that mission, that vision, that commitment comes back and empowers you in a way that you become the person you need to be to fulfill it rather than you’re already all turned out and smart and you know exactly what you want, and you’ve been to graduate school, and you’ve been to cooking school, and you’ve done all the things you need to do to get yourself ready to make a commitment. I think it’s kind of the other way around. You make a commitment. Out of that commitment, you hone yourself or the commitment hones you, shapes you into the kind of person you need to be to fulfill it. And when I talk about commitment, I’m not talking about, meet me on the corner at 6:00 PM for a movie. I’m talking about something that you want to give really your life to, because I think that life is a gift. That’s how I hold it. That it’s been given to me, it’s been given to you, it’s been given to us, it’s been given to us so that we can utilize it as an instrument of making the difference that’s ours to make. And so, the book is about empowering people who already know what their commitment is, to deepen it, expand it, and be even more in love with that kind of a life. And for people who haven’t found their commitment to give them some ideas, some guidance, an ecosystem of ideas and environments and ways of thinking, where their commitment that’s natural to them, that’s what they’re really here for, why they were born really, begins to show up so that they can fulfill that. So, that’s a little bit about what I mean by commitment. 

06:56 Mallory: I really love what you were saying before around how commitment and making a commitment helps us shift from that, “I’ll be ready when” narrative, that imposter syndrome, to really allowing ourselves to grow into the roles needed to fulfill the ultimate commitment that we make first. And there’s a line, I can’t remember it exactly, near the beginning of the book, where you talk about the fact that living a committed life for you has really decreased a lot of the chatter and self-doubt and rumination, which is something we talk about a lot on this podcast. Particularly for fundraisers. What gets in the way of them taking certain actions and putting themselves out there, perhaps in more vulnerable moments of inviting people to give. So, can you talk to us a little bit about that? 

07:42 Lynne: I think when we’re living a life starring us, what I’m calling a smaller version of life, then we’re all about whether or not people like us or whether or not we’re wearing the right outfit, or whether we’re thin enough or smart enough, or tall enough or muscular enough, or man enough or woman enough. We’re all about the scarcity of and opacity of our relationship with ourselves and comparing ourselves to other people, and self-doubt. It just creates enormous anxiety. And you’re all kind of in a swirl all about yourself. Those noises in our head, which everybody has, I have them too. Calm down. Get not so loud. Move to the background, a commitment worthy of your life moves to the foreground, and then you don’t have time to entertain all those thoughts anymore. You’re at work fulfilling a major commitment, and I love fundraising very, very much. That’s another thing I teach; fundraising. We’re having a wonderful session of fundraising from the heart, which is what I teach, but I love asking for money. I love fundraising. I love moving money towards our highest commitments. I love facilitating. This is one of the things that I’m committed to in my life, and this is one of the things that I think I was born to do, and this is a huge calling for me. I think fundraising is sacred work. I think fundraising, ultimately, it’s the courage to facilitate the reallocation of the world’s resources away from fear, which is where most of the resources of the world are going, reallocate those, facilitate the reallocation of those resources to what we love. So, it’s moving money from fear to love. When you think about the budgets of any country, their largest financial budget is for defence, it’s for bombs, it’s for guns, it’s for things that blow people up and destroy the environment and destroy life rather than education, which is about the future, which is about instead of destroying, it’s about educating and drawing force for the best in people. We spent so much time and over consumption, which is a very toxic and almost violent action that destroys the earth. Rather than over consumption, reallocating some of those resources towards nourishing our families, nourishing our communities, nourishing our community of life, other animals and plants, nourishing the earth, and nourishing all children of all species for all time. So, fundraising for me is sacred holy work that’s consistent with a big vision. You don’t fundraise for just anything. You fundraise for something you really care about. So that starts to unlock their heart and soul. That’s why a commitment is so important for fundraisers. The commitment will pull you through those challenging times. The commitment will shape you into somebody who really does know how to ask for money from the heart. The commitment will put all that chatter that you asked me about in the background, your goals, your commitments, and your vision for the world in the foreground. And you won’t have as much time as we sometimes spend entertaining all those doubts. So, in fundraising, I particularly work with people on what do you stand for, what’s your stand, what’s your life about, how does that match the work you’re doing, the cause you’re raising money for the organization, the museum, the art project, the school, the vision, what’s your life about and how does it match by that vision so that you can get through all the noise and not have it deter you from making the difference you’re here to make. 

11:00 Mallory: I could not love all of that more, and although I didn’t always feel that way, at the end of my career as a frontline fundraiser, after going through executive coaching, I had even more tools to deal with the inner dialogue that was creating a lot of resistance for me around fundraising, but I believe so deeply now. I spent the last 18 months of my frontline fundraising career loving fundraising. And the work that I do today was accidental. It was really like, wow, all of these things have changed the way that I feel as a fundraiser. Your work, the work of Dr. BJ Fogg, who does habit and behavior design, executive coaching principles, and I felt like, wow, there’s a different way to show up as a fundraiser, one where we’re in alignment with who we are, where we can speak from that place. It does help me persevere, and I think, get excited about like, this person is in alignment, this person’s not in alignment. But it’s not, I’m bad or I did a bad job. And so that really helped with some of the moving forward, moving on. But I’m curious, you know, one of the things that really struck me in your new book is the way you talk about work life balance, or not necessarily using that word, which I want to talk about a little bit. And you also talk about being open to the pain of the world, letting yourself be in coexistence and partnership with the issues that you stand for on a very deep level. I’m curious about your experience with that and the fundraising element, and the fact that sometimes getting a no or being rejected can rock our world and deregulate our nervous system. How do you manage all of those pieces? 

12:42 Lynne: First, I’ll talk about moving towards suffering rather than away from it. I really think that one of the most beautiful gifts that I’ve had in my life is being in refugee camps in Ethiopia after the famine, or being in Bangladesh after the floods that take people’s houses down and drown people. Or being in India and being in the slums of Mumbai or in Calcutta, working with Mother Teresa, which was a great privilege for me. I learned that, at least for me, and I don’t know that this is true for everybody, but I say for me, my capacity to be in communion with someone who’s suffering, where there’s pain, where there’s war, where there’s hunger, where there’s poverty, has shown me the power and the deep strength and resilience of the human spirit, that nothing really can crush that. And the people living in those circumstances are not poor. So, I never call people poor any longer, or rich, because that describes someone by their circumstances and we’re not our circumstances, we’re whole and complete people with hopes and dreams and talents and treasures, living in the ebb and flow of circumstances, some that are very, very challenging and difficult, and some that are bountiful in ways that can be a kind of tyranny and all of us in between. And when you really see who people are, you see their deep, profound humanity. You can see that sometimes harsh circumstances actually are, all of us go to workshops for. I mean, people develop an inner strength in those kinds of circumstances that I draw. And just thinking about some of the people that I’ve known living in those conditions, how deep their faith is, how powerfully they draw in their inner resources, how courageous they are, how much resilience they have, and how there’s an extraordinary encounter with the depth of what it means to be human in those circumstances, that everything’s great and everything available and all. It’s been really important and to be in the presence of someone else’s suffering, and then to be someone who can make a difference to alleviate that suffering or be a witness to it, which is often what people need more than anything, in a way that you see and mirror back them, that they can make it, that they’re strong, that they’re resilient, that their whole, that they’re beautiful, that they have a core heart that is indestructible, that they’re sufficient. And so, those experiences being with Mother Teresa in the Leprosy Centre, being in Kalighat the home of death and dying, being in famines and post-war situation in Mozambique. I tell you, that has really deepened my heart so that I can be a much more compassionate human being. When people who’ve been through those horrendous experiences express joy, it’s more joy than most of us can comprehend because I think pain and joy are one continuum, and when you deepen the pain, you expand the capacity for joy. I think it’s all one. I don’t want suffering for people, I’m just saying, I think being proximate as Brian Stevenson, the great attorney who works on death row, being proximate to suffering gets you in touch with your own humility. Any kind of arrogance or boastfulness or even modesty in your life, and you realize you’re so humbled to be alive. And on the same planet some of these people who go through those kinds of experiences. So that’s the first part of your question. And then what was the second part? 

16:02 Mallory: Well, you actually answered it in a way. I was curious sort of how those experiences perhaps led you to be able to overcome the nos in fundraising, or any of that rejection, or those moments of self-doubt. Just how you interwove those to keep you committed? 

16:23 Lynne: For me, I’ve raised hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars, I don’t know, maybe more than a billion, maybe more than 2 billion, I don’t really know. And I’ve had thousands of people say no to me, it’s incomprehensible. Maybe a yes out of every 10 nos’’, who knows? For me, I love a no answer because it’s clear. What’s more difficult for me as a fundraiser is, “well, I don’t know, I have to check with my accountant”. Then I know they’re going to go into their mind and it’s too late now. So, to keep people in their heart and then if it’s not right for them to be contributing to ending world hunger, preserving the Amazon rainforest, or ending the suffering of women in the Congo, then I don’t think we want their money for that. We don’t want them to make a gesture. We don’t want them to just make us feel better. We don’t want their sentimentality. We don’t want them to feel sorry for the people in the Congo. No. We want solidarity, not charity. I know I worked for Mother Teresa and she was epitome of the best kind of charity, but I think the 21st century is about solidarity, not charity. If someone doesn’t feel moved and, in their being, to be a financial partner to the or the Zápara people, or the or the Wambesis. If their heart is not in it, you don’t want their money. You want the money to be a currency of their love. That’s why money is called a currency, it’s a current. And if it’s inauthentic, if it’s a gesture, it’s trying to make you feel better, if it’s sentimental and if it’s about feeling sorry, that money, we would accept it sometimes, but it’s really not the kind of money that has the energy, the power, the beauty, the carrier of the commitment and love. And so, if you do a good job as a fundraiser, if you’re authentic and really engage with people at their heart level, at their integrity level, even if they say, no, thank you, the encounter that you have with them will open up and unlock their generosity and they will give to something else that is right for them. They will end up finding themselves suddenly giving to the homeless shelter, not knowing why. And it will have something to do with your conversation with them about the Amazon Rainforest, even though they’re not related, at least in their head. I say fundraising is always about unlocking the heart, unlocking the altruism, the natural generosity, it is in people, in every person. I mean, there aren’t people that don’t have that. That’s part of being human. And our job, yours and mine, and the people listening, is to lift the veil of resignation, to lift the veil of disappointment. Lift the veil of discouragement. When people are discouraged and apathetic, it’s because they’re disconnected from who they are. Discouragement really means disconnected from the heart. When we’re really authentically fundraising, we engage people in their heart’s desire or what breaks their heart, or what they care deeply about. And if it’s not the thing you’re fundraising for, then you don’t want them to give money to that. You want to bless and release them and invite them to go make a difference with whatever touches their heart. So, I’m fine with a no. I prefer yeses, of course. I have targets I’ve got. But authentic, from the heart fundraising is always, you can’t fail if you do it that way, even if you get 10 nos’ until you get the 11th yes. And I always feel that there’s a blessing in getting a no because it’s clear and then sometimes because I’m so okay with a no, that people will be a little bit stunned. And they’ll come back and say, I think I would like to do that. So, that just happened today. Someone who said, no, I can’t afford it, I’m maxed out, can’t do it, love your work, thank you for asking. Impossible. Came back this morning in an email. I’ve been thinking about that. I feel so prosperous suddenly. I really do want to give that money. And I really do want to give it to Pachamama Alliance, our organization. And I’d like to make a significant gift. Will you accept it? And I said, let me think, yes.

20:20 Mallory: This is something that your work has taught me. I remember an old story in the Soul of Money about you returning a check one time when it clearly wasn’t in alignment. And that has stuck with me so much throughout my fundraising career that not all money is created equal and that money isn’t the only point. And you talk a lot about scarcity and sufficiency, and it’s talked about again in this book, which I love. In terms of scarcity, I think a lot about how when scarcity mindset controls us fundraisers, the way that we transfer that scarcity mindset to our funders and our donors. And what I hear you talking about right now is the way in which, in your conversation with that donor, you transferred your sufficiency mindset to him, which really gave him the space to come back and say, I do have enough, what I actually want to do is this. So, can you talk to me a little bit about the way that we transfer those mindsets and beliefs between each other and the power we hold as fundraisers to step into a mindset of possibility, which you talk about in this book, and that sufficiency mindset to really start to shift conversations?

21:33 Lynne: First of all, we live in a culture that promotes scarcity. All the marketing and advertising and everything that everybody engages in and receives, promotes that you’re not okay unless you acquire this, or you’re not okay unless you take this course. These are the pain points. It’s all designed psychologically to have us feel that we are in need of something to be complete and that we’re incomplete without it. And that’s not only in advertising and marketing, it’s part of the monetary system. The monetary system, the economic system is based in scarcity. All money comes into existence with debt attached, with interest attached. Even the Federal Reserve, you know when they issue a $20, it has interest attached to it, so there’s always less money in existence than there is owed. That creates an economic system based in scarcity that forces us to want and demands that we do more, more, more, more, more. That’s a simple way of explaining, and I know economists and people with much more sophisticated language than me can make it much more complex than that, but that’s the source of our climate crisis. It’s the source of inequality, it’s the source of poverty, it’s the source of everything. I mean, really this mindset that there’s not enough to go around and some somewhere is going to be left out and make sure it’s not you and yours. So, you establish who you and yours are. And then if those people get left out, that’s really, really too bad and you’ll help them. But not until you have way more than you need for you and yours, whoever you decide that is. And that creates the us and the them that we’re all battling with now. The divisiveness, the you or me, mentality. It’s either you make it at my expense or I make it at your expense, but there’s not enough for both of us. And so that scarcity mindset is an unconscious unexamined mindset that really, we don’t even know we have. It’s not that we deliberate and do our numbers. And look around, I’m not denying that that’s important. I’m talking about an unconscious unexamined mindset that’s there before we even wake up in the morning. We wake up into, I didn’t get enough sleep. We wake up into, I don’t have enough. We wake up into, there’s not enough love, there’s not enough sex, there’s not enough vacation, there’s not enough days in the week, there’s not enough hours in the day. We wake up into that. That is where we’re coming from, and it’s an unconscious, unexamined mindset that says, there’s not enough to go around, more of anything and everything is better. More indiscriminate. That’s the source of our obesity epidemic. That’s the source of our incredible horrendous inequality. Even global billionaires that I work with, some of them, so I can say this quite personally, they’re frantic to get more. Why would anybody need more than $500 million or $10 billion. Why would someone still crave more? Because it’s a mindset. It’s not rational. It’s not related to reality actually, or it’s not related to what’s really appropriate. We’re swimming in that mindset, and I say that’s a lie, as you know from the Soul of Money book. I reiterate that here and I reiterate that in Living a Committed Life, it’s a bed of lies, and it’s inconsistent with our humanity. And Buddha said, the source of all suffering is a lie. And it’s true. The source of the suffering we all have in our relationship with money comes from the lies that the money culture continually perpetrates on all of us and that we buy into. What’s the truth? The radical, surprising truth in my view is, enough, which is different than abundance, enough, sufficiency, sufficient resources, enough being met by the universe with precisely what you need, precisely when you need it, including a bankruptcy, including a divorce, including an illness. I want to include some of the bad things too, because they’re all part of the school of life. They’re all part of the feedback that’s appropriate for us as human beings to grow and develop into who we want and know we can be. Enough is not an amount of anything. It’s not halfway between more than we need and less than we need. It’s a way of being in the world, seeing the enoughness in you, seeing the beauty in your eyes, the beauty in your hair, the enoughness of your lovely environment, the enoughness of my capacity to communicate with you, the enoughness of the technology that we have, that we are so fortunate to have. And from enough, then you can move into natural abundance, but not from lack. From lack, you always want more. And then once you get it, you’re happy for a fleeting moment. Suddenly you’re in lack again, and you need more. When your ground of being is lack, when you’re living in a deficit relationship with yourself and the rest of the world, you’re constantly coming back to lack rather than enough. If you start from, I’m okay exactly the way I am, I have talents and treasures, I’m healthy and well, from there you grow. Then you can find what I call true prosperity and true abundance. There’s a principle which you probably know because you read my books, but it’s called the Principle of Sufficiency, and I’ll just say it cuz it’s useful. So, if we let go of trying to get more of what we don’t really need, which is what we’re chasing all the time and what we’re brainwashed to want more of, it frees up oceans of energy that’s all tied up in this frantic chase, to turn and pay attention to what we already have. When we pay attention to what we already have, when we make a difference with what we already have, and when we share what we already have, it expands before our very eyes. And that is the principle of sufficiency; what you appreciate, appreciates. So when we’re in our sufficiency, when I’m in my sufficiency, when I’m a fundraiser and I’m asking you for money, if I’m totally okay with a yes, and I’m totally okay with a no, and I’m totally in touch with my own deficiency and can mirror back to you in somehow, maybe not in my words, but in my being, your wholeness, your completeness, your sufficiency, then we have a conversation about whether or not you want to make a contribution or be a financial partner to the Pachamama Alliance, to the Hunger Project, to the Institute of Political Sciences, to the Nobel Women’s Initiative. And you can see whether or not that’s a match for you. And you start to feel out of your own sufficiency, the longing to make a difference with what you have. That’s what people want to do with what they have. When they realize what they have, they want to make a difference with it. But we’re so focused on trying to get more, we don’t pay any attention to what we have. And so, a great fundraiser in my view is someone who is complete and whole in themselves, number one. Not scrambling to make their target, committed to make their target, yes, but knowing that whatever the outcome of this conversation, it will be the truth if you’re doing the conversation with integrity. And knowing that I’m whole and complete, you’re whole and complete, we have the opportunity to do something miraculous together, and I want to invite you to consider that with me. Can we talk about that? Then you feel honored that I’m talking to you about it. I’m talking to you about it because I see your wholeness, your completeness, your sufficiency, and I mirror that back to you in my being, in my countenance, in my sense of appreciation for you, in my words, yes, but more in the environment we’re in together, the ecosystem we create. That’s what it means to raise money from a context of responsibility and sufficiency. And from there people discover, oh my God, you know, like the woman who wrote to me this morning, you know what, I do have enough, I don’t know what I was complaining about, I’m always singing that song about I can’t afford this, I can’t afford that. I’m fine. I’d like to make a contribution. 

29:13 Mallory: Well, I’ll tell you what you appreciate, appreciates. I was probably one glass of wine away from getting that tattooed on me in my twenties. So, it’s definitely a sentence that has guided so much. I mean, I think about it in everything from my fundraising and work to my daughter and how I talk to her and the feedback I give her and the way that I look at we’re in the threes and she is a true threenager, and it’s been a great way to check myself around. What do I love about this phase? What do I appreciate about this phase? What enoughness is there? It’s very easy. And reading your book, I was in tears last night and sitting next to my husband, what are you reading about? And I said, she’s writing about her kids and the balance of being a mom and doing this work and hopping on planes and missing things, which is an experience that’s so true for me right now too. I really want to encourage folks, because we’ve talked a lot on here, balance has also never been a word that has felt to me because I always felt like, when I tried to have work life balance or whatever that meant, I was never balanced. And so, I sort of always felt like I was failing. But the way you talk about commitment and integration was exactly what I needed to hear. And so, I don’t know if you want to share anymore about that piece of how you have moved through commitment, but it was just so meaningful to me to read. 

30:39 Lynne: Well, I’ll just say about balance. And I’m not against it. I know a lot of people who work on that and there’s courses about it and there’s magazines and podcasts and everything. So, I don’t want to denigrate it. It’s not a fit for me and for many people who have a committed life. When I think of balance, I think of a teeter-totter. Sometimes it’s like this and sometimes it’s like that. Every once in a while, it goes like this, but not for very long. That’s what makes it exciting to be on a teeter-totter. And that’s a little bit more real about the way life actually is. I’ve often said that I don’t seek balance because I know sometimes, I need to do an all-nighter and I’m honored to do it. If it’s really meaningful to me to fly all night to get to something that’s really important to me, like my daughter’s soccer game, or a speech I’m scheduled to give in the UN, or a fundraising ask that I know is going to be really, really juicy and beautiful and maybe a huge yes, I’ll do it because my commitment guides me rather than balance. And I do take care of myself. I know that it’s important to make sure that this instrument of the good, this gift that I’ve been given, called my body and my soul and my mind, and my brain and my heart needs to be tended to, and that it’s not that I’m all about sacrificing this for that. That has no integrity. That’s where you’re out of integrity when you’re the victim of all your commitments. No. If you’re willing to go all out and then give yourself that recharging that you need to have. I interviewed Leymah Gbowee. She’s a Nobel Peace Prize laureate. She’s an extraordinary African woman from Liberia who ended the brutal, almost unconsciously vicious Liberian war. And she did it by mobilizing thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of mothers to stop the violence. She said this beautiful thing, she said, women who are committed and who are really out there making it happen, they’re like a sponge in the kitchen. They’re cleaning up everything. They’re wiping down this table and they’re washing dishes with a sponge and they’re doing all this stuff. And if they don’t take the time to squeeze the sponge out so they can mop up again then they start spreading the dirt instead of cleaning it up. And I thought, what a cool metaphor. Cause there’s not a woman who’s listening who doesn’t have a sponge at the sink and is going to do the dishes tonight in some form even if you have six dishwashers and servants, you’re going to use a sponge. I love that because that is really true, that if you’re really committed to making the world work for everyone, with no one and nothing left out, which is my commitment, then you have to include yourself. It’s not you and the world out there. The world includes you. And to have integrity rather than balance, I don’t want to make it too instead of, but for me, I seek integrity. Keeping and delivering on my word sometimes, when that’s integrity for me requires extraordinary, almost out of the box efforts that tax my very system, my very capacity, my stamina, for me, they’ve always been worth it. I remember talking to someone who worked at NASA when President Kennedy said, we’re going to put a man on the moon in 10 years. No one thought it was possible. The metals weren’t invented. It was just completely outlandish, but it inspired our nation. And I was in college at that time, so I’ll never forget that commitment. And I talked to someone not that long ago who worked at NASA during that time. It was so exciting to put a man on the moon by 1968, 1969, in less than 10 years. And the scientists and engineers and people who were working on that, they barely slept for eight years. They ate pizza and coke, they didn’t take care of themselves, but they were so turned on. They were having such a wild and wonderful ride. And once they accomplished this incredible impossible goal, they were so grateful they had the opportunity to do it. But he didn’t come around and said, now you should go home and get more rest. I agree with that, yes. On the other hand, I think we all know there’s nothing more exciting than being in the zone, being in the thrill of having a vision worthy of giving your life to. So that’s my little treatise around balance. And those of you who love balance, God bless you. I really appreciate you and I admire you, and it’s just not my dharma this lifetime. 

34:53 Mallory: And I think that it’s such an important thing to talk about because the reason I’ve talked about it more on this show has been that for a lot of women, particularly in executive director or big fundraising roles, feel like it’s an unattainable request and that in their commitment it feels particularly challenging. I agree for folks who have figured out ways to make balance feel great for them, that’s wonderful. And for everybody else who hasn’t quite been able to figure that out, I love that they have other ways of thinking through having meaningful, whole, aligned lives in ways that are fuelling and healing and all of those pieces. And one of the things that really strikes me listening to you say all of that is, the level of consciousness you also have around your own needs and guiding light. And it sounds to me like you’re checking in with yourself. Like if you’re saying, okay, I’m going to fly all night to get there to do this thing, you have this awareness, this consciousness around the role that that plays, the priority that that plays in your life. And there’s this word, and I think maybe even a segment within the new book around how commitment creates context. Is that connected here? 

36:09 Lynne: Yes, I think it is. And what’s flowing through you is commitment. And that in my view, it comes from source, whatever you consider a source to be. I believe that burnout, which many people talk about being burned out or being totally exhausted. I understand that. I’ve been there, I’ve done that, I know that space very, very deeply. But I actually think burnout is more a function of being disconnected from source than it is from too many all-nighters. Obviously, it’s related. If you’re going to stay up all night for three nights in a row, you’re going to be pretty burnt out. But I’m saying that people get burned out often without any of that because they’re just not connected to source. They’ve gotten disconnected from source, on a tributary, they’ve gotten distracted, they’ve gone off. And they’re not in the zone that they know, that’s where they feel their heart and soul is engaged and they’re in touch with who they are. And when we get off, when we’re trying to please someone or trying to make something happen that’s not really ours to do, or we’re trying to impress somebody, we spend all of our energy on that, we often are what I call disconnected from source, and that is exhausting. But being in touch with who you are and your mission in life is exhilarating. It’s energizing. Sometimes you think, oh my God, I can’t believe how much energy I have and I just did 18 million things, and I’m going to do more. It’s amazing, that energy. I don’t know how to say this. I try and manage my energy rather than my time. I have a very clear schedule, as you know, because I made this commitment to talk to me at a certain time and I was a little late and Mikey had to call me to get me to come. But at the same time, schedules are really important and I want to honor that because that’s another part of keeping your word. At the same time, I do everything I can to manage my energy as much as my time. And by that, I mean, if I look at a name or a thing on my list that drains my energy, I realize I probably shouldn’t be doing that, that’s probably for somebody else to do, or certainly shouldn’t start with that. And if I look at something on my list that gives me energy, then I move toward it. I always move toward what gives me energy and I try to move away from what drains my energy unless it’s something I must do. There are things like that. But a lot of the stuff we do that drains our energy is not a must do, is not a requirement, it’s a habit, a kind of bad habit. And there’s a wonderful phrase that I got from a man I admire whose name I always try to remember so I can give him credit. Ed Hallowell. He says, avoid the leeches and cultivate the lilies in every day, and you’ll have a happy life. And it’s true. That’s managing your energy as well as your time. 

38:45 Mallory: I love that. And my executive coach certification is in something called energy leadership. And so, managing energy as opposed to time and as opposed to a lot of other elements is one of the core principles that we talk about. And I think it has radically changed my life to do exactly as you said, to look at the things that I lean in towards and look at the things that create a lot of resistance and not just around fear, because that’s a vulnerable or a scary thing, but really like there’s something there that’s not for me. So, I love that wisdom and that advice. As we’re starting to wind down, one of the things you talk about in the book, I’m thinking about for listeners who are like, okay, how do I know if I’m on my path to my committed life? You talk about the difference between taking a stand and taking a position, that I think is really enlightening in terms of how that leads to our commitments and leading a committed life. Can you talk about that a little bit? 

39:40 Lynne: Well, it’s a dynamic that is important to notice and it’s very important I think in this today’s landscape because we have a lot of positionality going on right now, particularly in the United States. So, my assertion I’ll say is that, a position calls up its opposition, any position. So, if I say right, it creates left. If I say here, it creates there. If I say, up, it creates a down. If I say pro-choice, it creates pro-life. If I deepen my resolve for pro-choice and get more and more entrenched in it, pro-life is going to do the same. So, positionality and I, those two, that’s a little dicey you didn’t even bring that up. But those two positions or here, there, or up down, or yes no, or right wrong, are all very binary and they create their opposite. Positionality has that dimension. And then another way of talking about positionality is, when you have a position, in many ways it’s a point of view. In other words, I’m sitting here and I have a point of view and my computer and you are right in the middle of my gaze. But if I moved over here, I’m looking at you sideways. I have a different point of view. Or if I’m in a theater or a basketball stadium or a football stadium, let’s say a basketball stadium, and I’m on the top row of the nosebleed seats, the players are very, very small down there. But I could see the whole basketball court and I could see very well the kind of patterns of the way they’re running. And somebody who’s sitting on the floor, maybe have a very close view of the big tall basketball players and seeing them all around like this, but they can’t see necessarily the pattern that they’re working in. So, a point of view gives you a particular point of view. And sometimes we think our point of view is the truth for everybody else rather than just us. One’s point of view is true for you, absolutely true for the guy sitting in the nosebleed section, the lady up there. What she sees is true for her. But if she goes down to the floor and starts to argue with the person who’s sitting right on the basketball floor, no, that’s not the way that it was. Didn’t he go over there? And you start arguing about that. You just have two different points of view. This person’s is absolutely accurate for them, this person is accurate for them. A point of view can also be where you were born, how you were raised, your ethnicity, your education. It’s actually your point of view in the world, people call it your worldview. So, taking a stand is completely different than that. Points of your very important, positions are very important. If I didn’t know that the door was over there, I would be able to walk out of this room. However, there’s something called a stand, and I think that’s completely different. When you take a stand, you relinquish your point of view, and what you receive is vision. It’s almost like you rise up above the stadium, up above the scene, and you can see all the points of you are accurate. They paint a very full picture. You can see the whole thing. Suddenly you have vision rather than a point of view. When you take a stand, you have vision. So, Gandhi, he had points of view and positions. Yes, he wanted this law passed. He didn’t think that was right. That’s all true. But who he was and where he came from was his stand, that all people should have a chance for a healthy and productive life and the people in India should be free to choose their own destiny, and the British should go home and choose their destiny. Martin Luther King had a huge vision for all humanity, for everybody, for white people, for black people, for brown people, who red people, for yellow people, for all people. And yet he took positions on the game board to get this bill passed and that bill passed, but who he was, where he spoke from, when you listen to his voice, you can hear. He spoke from a stand to see all the validity of all positions and use all of them in all points of view to move history forward. So, the people that we most admire are stand takers. We all have the capacity to take a stand, and that’s actually the same thing as a life commitment. When you make a life commitment, it always inspires everybody around you. People don’t argue with you about that, or they don’t argue with your stand. They may disagree with how you’re doing this or that, or the other thing, but you can’t argue with a stand. A stand is always for the good. It’s never against anything. It’s always for, it gives you enormous power and clarity to take a stand. 

44:12 Mallory: Are you familiar with energy leadership, that structure at all? 

44:16 Lynne: No. 

44:17 Mallory: Oh my gosh, you would love it. There are these seven levels of leadership. There’s an assessment and then a lot of the coaching tools revolve around it, and the lower levels of leadership involve what’s called catabolic energy, which is filled with a lot of tunnel vision, binary thinking, black and white judgment. The higher levels are anabolic energy, which is filled with a prism of opportunity, clarity, alignment. And so, there’s a lot around within these layers, how people have access to decision making or clarity or feeling that sense of enlightenment, being emboldened and embodied. Like level seven is like full on enlightenment, but it’s really this movement that we all have within all of these different levels of energy, levels of leadership, that I’ve actually repurposed for what I call the seven styles of fundraising to help folks think about how do they show up with certain types of energy and perspectives and beliefs that inform how they engage in different elements of their life. And so, this is so aligned with what I teach and I’m just so excited for folks to dive into that. 

45:27 Lynne: That’s so exciting. I’d love to know more about that. So, say again, what it’s called? The formal name, Energy Leadership.

45:33 Mallory: The assessment is called the Energy Leadership Index, and it is trained by an organization called iPEC Coaching. 

45:40 Lynne: What does that stand for? 

45:42 Mallory: I’m going to get it wrong. Something…

45:46 Lynne: The Institute for People’s Energy, something like that.

45:49 Mallory: Something coaching. But yeah, I really, I’d be happy to send you some information about it. I feel like you would really see just a lot of synergy to talk about some of this.

45:58 Lynne: Yeah. Sounds fantastic. 

46:01 Mallory: Yeah. For folks who are listening to this, who are leading organizations, who are like, I’m not sure that this exact organization is my commitment, while I believe deeply in what we do. How do you think about the relationship of those things? And one of the things you talk about in the book is, the many commitments that you’ve made throughout your life. So maybe we could end there and just helping folks navigate how they take what they do today into moving into a committed life? 

46:27 Lynne: Sometimes if you look at your life, it’s like a river that’s finding its way to the ocean of your committed life. And you’ll see that you’ve never done anything that doesn’t contribute to a larger vision than the one you’re in right now. And that’s true for me even now. You can see that a person’s stand is usually much larger or you can’t really check it off or accomplish it, like done. It’s usually in the direction of something that gives your life meaning. So, it may be something like you’re committed to having every child have someone who stands for their health and wellbeing. Now you’re not going to be able to ever check that off even when you die. But you live a life with that stand always informing your action. Or it might be that you feel you’re on the planet to address the climate crisis as feedback from the mother that we deeply listen to so that we can change course. And then you can work for an environmental organization or indigenous people, or you can work for the SPCA and help animals that are stranded. You know, there’s a lot of things you can do inside of that stand. But if you look at your life, there’s a through line and there’s a pull, there’s a vision, there’s something larger than any organizational statement, anything that you could actually check off and accomplish or measure. And that’s what I mean by a stand. I feel that we all have that. It’s what is making our heart sing. Whatever you’re doing, maybe you’re a waitress and your calling is to be a chef and to invent food that’s environmentally, sustainably grown, organically healthy for all people, and that will nourish us in a way that we listen more deeply to the earth. And you’re a waitress now. Well, maybe you’re a waitress so that you can get more and more familiar with the world of food and the whole business of food, so that someday you can actually be a fulfillment of that. And in the meantime, you’re going to be the best waitress that ever waited on anybody’s table. You’re going to create such an environment of love and acceptance, efficiency and effectiveness, service for those people that they all think, she was just a wonderful waitress because you’ve got something larger that this is inside of no matter what it is. Kindergarten teacher, garbage collector, bus driver, podcast leader, we’re all called for something greater than our own life starring us. And if you can start to feel into that and use whatever you’re doing now to make you more able to fulfill that kind of a destiny and more open to being drawn by vision, than just checking off the next accomplishment, life will show up for you. There’s guidance out there, I think, especially if we ask for it and listen for it and pay attention. 

49:08 Mallory: And the last thing I just want you to touch on is, why now this is so important? Why is it important that people are taking a stand now more than ever and living this committed life? 

49:20 Lynne: Because we live in the most epic time in history. Epic, epic, epic. I mean, across the board, every institution is falling apart. The economy, the political, our democracy, our governance system, our education system, our economic system, everything’s falling, disintegrating before our eyes, I think, so that we can take an evolutionary leap and recreate everything from a new paradigm. And the climate crisis is huge feedback as is the pandemic. Feedback to a species that’s lost its way, ours. If we listen to the feedback, we accept it and course correct. There’s nobody alive who doesn’t have a role to play in that. I think if you’re alive today, it doesn’t have to be a big role, a small role, it’s just your role. And if you play it, your life will be meaningful. It’s an all-hands-on-deck time. It’s a new era. I think we’re pregnant with a new evolutionary leap. I don’t think anybody can escape it. You can participate or you can be at the effect of it. You can be the victim of it, or you can be the source of it. And why not step up and be one of the people who’s making it happen? It’s going to happen. Not happening to us. It’s happening for us, as Paul Hawkins says. So why not participate with all your heart and be part of the win? Be part of the transformation. Be part of the miracle rather than be at the effect of all its going to take to create the miracle, and it’s going to take a lot. It’s not going to be easy. Just like giving birth to your little three-year-old daughter. It hurt and then you got a baby. This is going to hurt, but we’re going to have a baby. 

50:53 Mallory: Thank you so much for this conversation today. I will make sure that there are links below so that everyone goes and buys the book, your new book, and get the Soul of money while you’re at it too. And you can come back and talk to me about it and also links to your fundraising courses, Fundraising from the Heart. Is there anything else you want to make sure you leave folks with today? 

51:16 Lynne: Well, when is this going to happen? 

51:19 Mallory: This is going to air the week after giving Tuesday. I think that is December 6th. 

51:26 Lynne: Well, that’s just before the fundraising from the heart workshop. You can just also say that anyone who’s interested and work with the Pachamama Alliance, that’s another thing that I do, and I would love to have people participate in that and make a year-end contribution. And once you contribute, you’re part of our family forever. 

51:42 Mallory: Yes, you should absolutely go and check out the Pachamama Alliance, and so we’ll put links for that below as well. And it is the perfect time to be listening to this to make your end-of-year gift. So, thank you so much for joining me and for all of the work that you do to transform this sector and this world. I’m so grateful. 

52:01 Lynne: Thank you so much. It was a joy being with you, Mallory, and I’m going to check out the Energy Leadership Index and the seven styles of fundraising. I love that. I’m so excited to meet you and to have this opportunity myself. So, thank you, thank you, thank you. And, I hope everybody has a beautiful new pair of eyes to see the beauty, the magic, the miracle of being a fundraiser.

52:28 Mallory: All right. There is obviously so much inside this episode that I want to double-click on, but let me try to restrain myself to highlight my top, top takeaways. Number one, when we live life preoccupied with what others think of our choices, we are living in scarcity, self-doubt, and anxiety. This is a subconscious cultural construct that is thrust upon us, but we can consciously change our perspective and orientation to alter how we experience life. And leading a committed life is part of what allows for this mindset and behavioral shift.  

Number two. I love the way that Lynne talks about the difference between taking a stand and taking a position and how taking a stand is rooted in positive change, something people can’t argue against, as opposed to a position that is binary and automatically creates opposition. 

Number three. Fundraising is sacred work and an opportunity to reallocate the world’s resources, moving them away from fear and towards transformation, sufficiency, and hope. And to put this in other way, fundraising is also about moving people out of apathy and disconnection towards a heart centered understanding of their shared humanity. 

Number four. I love what Lynne said about the fact that sufficiency is a way of being and a mindset. It’s not halfway between scarcity and abundance, and it actually is the channel through which true abundance can come through. And don’t forget the principle of sufficiency; what you appreciate appreciates. I was not joking about that tattoo. That phrase is something I think about every day. 

Number five. If you want to minimize burnout, move towards things that give you energy and away from things that don’t. Manage your energy just as much as you manage your time. Living a committed life and being rooted in your purpose fuels you with energy, clarity, and momentum. We talk about this in energy leadership as anabolic energy. 

Okay. For additional takeaways and tips inside this episode, go head over to malloryerickson.com/podcast to grab the full show notes and resources now.

You’ll also find more information there about Lynne and Pachamama Alliance, the Soul of Money Institute, and where you can order the books. Thank you for spending this time with us today. If you enjoyed this episode, we would love it if you would give it a rating and review and share it with a friend. I am so grateful for all of my listeners and the good, hard work you’re doing to make our world a better place. 

And if you miss me between episodes, stop by and say hello on Instagram under whatthefundraising_. Have a great day and I’ll see you next week.

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