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Making a Living While Making a Difference

By Martha Lasley
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Originally published in Facilitating with Heart.

Is money our friend, an addiction, or a tool for making life easy? Wouldn’t life be simpler if money didn’t change hands? Or is money a way of simplifying our transactions, expressing our gratitude for goods and services, or relieving us of feeling continuously indebted to others? John Heron says, “There is clearly something odd about turning human helping into a profession, with training, accreditation, status, case conferences, and institutional politics. Does the wise flow of love from person to person require all this apparatus of paternalism?”1

What if we just gave our work away? The world could become a better place faster if we practiced our craft freely, without remuneration. But when people in the helping professions are paid, more practitioners are attracted to the field, and that’s a more concrete way of increasing the opportunities for transformation. I want structures that support the flow of money, contribute to ease, help us choose how we use our time, and provide clarity about where to focus our energy to be mutually beneficial. I want to prosper, I want my clients to prosper, and I want to contribute to the greater good in ways that are sustainable for all of us.

Because clients bare their souls, employ us as facilitators, and give us their money, the relationship can be burdened by power issues. Acknowledging the power issues helps us move away from ‘power-over’ and towards ‘power-with’ relationships. When we consciously design our relationships up front, self-empowerment becomes a choice.

I want to work with people regardless of their ability to pay, and at the same time, I want to earn a reasonable amount of money to sustain a modest lifestyle. The work I do in larger organizations in some ways subsidizes my pro bono or reduced-rate work. Ideally I’d like to see clients pay whatever amount brings a smile to their face, and one of the reasons they’re smiling is because they enjoy contributing to my well-being and supporting the continuation of my work. I also want to be paid an amount that I feel happy about – an amount that allows me to continue doing work that I love and contribute to projects that inspire me.

The old, tired adage that clients “don’t value the work if they don’t pay for it,” is convenient but simply not true for many people. However, a modest monetary investment on the part of the participant increases my confidence that they value the work and will follow through on their commitments.

I’m eager to find new ways to bring the practice of Facilitating with Heart into every family and every organization. I focus my practice on the workplace because that’s where I have the most hope about generating social change. The opportunity to reach and impact people is far larger than working with individuals. I also get excited imagining facilitators all over the planet spreading this work because organizations receive benefits and are willing to pay well for added value.

1. John Heron personal conversation 2008

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