Our lives are filled with stories of struggle against evil. From an early age, we learn to be “against” an enemy. We learn who is the “good guy” and who is the “bad guy.” But rarely is it about being “for” something.
Politics and various social and socio-political issues are also about fighting against something. As if we had to fight it tooth and nail. No matter if it is against climate change, against poverty or against “foreigners”. The situation is always presented as if there is an enemy on the outside that we can or should or must fight. As a result, we are constantly in a position of resistance on the inside.
A new narrative
Yesterday I saw a story on Instagram by Robert Gladitz who talked about reframing certain narratives. He talked about how he’s not really happy with the narrative of “fighting climate change” because it’s against something, rather than “for a better future” (roughly speaking). And I know that that in itself is not a new idea.
But what I found really interesting was that he also challenged the non-profit narrative. That it’s against something, and thus we’re also back in resistance. Against profit. Against money. Instead, he suggests creating organizations that work “for a purpose” That it’s okay to get money and make profit. After all, money is just a form of energy.
Many people, especially in the non-profit sector, actually associate profit with a lot of negative things. We then often automatically equate profit with exploitation. But maybe it’s time to change that. And then we can still decide whether we have a “for purpose” or a “for values” or “for whatever” organization, but then at least we finally get out of the negative pendulum movement. Then we no longer have the focus on having to fight the enemy. Instead, we focus our energy and our organization on what it’s really about.
And in German, we actually have that. We have charitable / common welfare organizations. In other words, serving the common good. But there is also a lot of cultural bias in these respective terms. In cultures influenced by Great Britain, we can observe a lot of focus on profit. In German-speaking countries, there is a lot of self-sacrifice. There is often a belief or mental connection, that we are only good people if we do something for others, but do not take care of ourselves.
This example shows very well that it is not only about the words we tell directly, but also the story behind them and the feelings we associate with them.
For purpose / the good cause
If voices are now raised in our heads that fear that we would be exploiting someone if we change our alignment from non-profit to for-purpose, or if we cut the mental link between charitable and self-sacrifice, then that is understandable, but it is just our heads playing tricks on us.
When we align our organizations with a specific purpose, there are usually some values attached to that purpose. And if our values are designed to help someone in a real, lasting and profound way, then this contradictory thought about money or our own good must not get in the way. For it only distracts from the essential. Both money and our own well-being are basically tools that help us further our purpose, and depending on how powerful the tools are, the impact they can have varies a lot.
How this fits into the system
The challenge here is how to integrate this new way of thinking into the system. Non-profit organizations are interesting primarily because they don’t have to pay taxes, or at least they have to pay less. Because they are designed not to make a profit. But there, too, it is a question of thinking in terms of abundance or scarcity.
Even if our goal with the organization is to support people in financial need, isn’t it the responsibility of the organization to provide a supportive environment and, if necessary, to initiate a redistribution?
Regardless of whether we are for profit or not for profit, it must be possible to find ways in which the people for whom we deliver our services can afford them. And ideally, without falling into the debt trap. Most importantly, resolving the “against” helps us focus on finding sustainable solutions that are in flow.
Visions are quickly shared, but usually slow to implement
All these idealistic words are easy to write, and in some cases not so easy to implement. I can’t provide a 5-step plan here on how to transform all non-profit organizations into for-purpose ones. But the first step is to become aware of these “for” or “against” energies. Especially with all the movements that really want to make a positive change in the world.
Fridays for Future demonstrated it to us, how much more powerful a narrative can be when it is FOR something, rather than against it. When we don’t have to chastize or feel bad for ourselves for it. It moves blame to the side, and puts the focus on the positive change we want.
Just as our brains can’t process “not”, and we’re supposed to phrase sentences positively for our personal development, that’s specifically true in all the areas where we’re serious about making a change. And we can do that even if we don’t have pink glasses on and look at the situation realistically.
Life is an experiment
Especially where there are no simple, clear answers (yet), my enthusiasm for experimenting comes up. How can we best serve the purpose to manifest our vision step by step?
More and more, I come to the conclusion that it’s basically always about being aware. As soon as we know what we are doing or not doing, our brain automatically finds ways to actually make it happen. There, too, we can go into trust and into abundance thinking.
And if we look more closely at all the situations where we perceive any resistance, or where we fight AGAINST something, and become aware of WHY we are doing this and how it benefits us, we can also come more and more into the flow on an energetic level.