Imagine if you woke up one morning and said to yourself, ‘Today I’m going to start ending world hunger.” Believe it or not, that’s exactly what my friend Lynne Twist did. She’s one of my favorite people in the entire world because she didn’t just think about doing something about it; even though she had three small children; she decided to commit to the idea.
She created the Hunger Project, raised more than two billion dollars, and recruited 200,000 volunteers in the US and offices in dozens of other countries around the world, with 40,000 volunteers in Bangladesh alone.
In the process, she learned a lot about what she calls the ‘soul’ of money, how to become an expert fundraiser for the transformational causes that matter.
Lynne is someone who has decided to follow an examined, committed, purposeful life. “Transformation became the water I wanted to swim in for the rest of my life,” she said. She is one of the people profiled in my friend Arjuna Ardagh’s new book called Radical Brilliance.
In this book, Arjuna asked a basic question: what were the habits and also the habits of the mind of people like Albert Einstein, Emmeline Pankhurst, Steve Jobs and Mother Teresa enabling them to find original ways of seeing things that changed the world for everyone? He wanted this to be a step-by-step guide to unraveling the mystery of brilliance.
And now the rain forests
In 1995, as he tells it, Lynne upped her game and decided to stop the deforestation of the rain forests – by teaching the natives to do it themselves. She traveled to South America to meet the Achuar tribe with her husband Bill and 10 others. The Achuar had dreamed that they needed some modern partners to keep their territory (a territory the size of the United States) pristine and untouched.
Lynne began the Pachamama Alliance with a small group of 12 and an ancient typewriter, and within five years had taught them to preserve the entire region from oil companies, mining companies, lumber mills and every other type of ‘extractive industry’ that has tried to pillage this area.
After working with the indigenous tribes for a number of years, she says, “Nothing has happened to encroach on these lands. Nothing. That is a huge accomplishment,”
The Pachamama Alliance now works in 82 countries, changing the dream of the modern world from ‘consumptive acquisition’ to a new dream of environmentally sustainable, spiritual fulfilling and socially just human presence on the planet.
Finding your commitment first
Arjuna asked Lynne about her own journey and how she managed it. Her extraordinary answers offer many lessons to all of us about finding and following our life’s purpose. I’d like to quote exactly what he’s written about her:
“Lynne Twist is a bold and inspiring example of a life lived beyond ‘me’ and ‘my needs.’ I asked her to reflect on what it means to lead such a life. “People want to make a difference with their life. That is the most profound way to live. That is what everybody longs for more than anything.
“Food, shelter, and all that, you do not have to have them first. It seems logical, but I do not agree with it. I have been with people in Bangladesh who had no shelter, who have not eaten for three days, whose primary commitment was to make a difference with their lives. That is really what people want. That is what gives life meaning.”
She goes on: “Taking care of oneself in order to be of service makes sense. Taking care of oneself just to take care of oneself does not give you satisfaction. People will give up anything to make a difference with their life, if they get a whiff of what it means to live a life that matters. Contribution does not have to be self-sacrificing. We sacrifice nothing, and we gain everything when we participate. For me, the greatest privilege is to participate in the transformation of life itself and the lives of other people. There is nothing I can imagine that would be more powerful and more fulfilling.
“I have lived what I call a committed life; a life that is governed by my highest commitments, not by my desires. If you live a life of commitment, where you give your word for something larger than yourself, you are constantly in a state of fulfillment. I am not saying that there are no struggles, no problems. It leads you to a life you could never have planned. It does not have anything to do with ambition. It has to do with surrender. You cannot surrender to get that kind of a life because that is cheating. You have to really surrender and somehow it is given to you.”
For more amazing and inspiring stories from brilliant people about how you can live your highest life purpose, have a look at Arjuna’s new book: Radical Brilliance, which you can get it on Amazon as a paperback, Kindle or Audible edition here: https://www.amazon.com/Radical-Brilliance-Anatomy-Original-Life-Changing/dp/1890909440/