Hug the World

Yeah, right!

Hold hands for world peace. Form a human chain to ban nuclear arms. Light candles to eliminate poverty.

Huh!

I used to be as cynical as the next guy about tackling massive problems with apparently meaningless gestures.

As a ‘direct action’ person, I believe in tackling issues head-on. Like building awareness about congenital heart disease, and raising funds to treat children with heart birth defects.

But then, I met an amazing lady named Gail Goodwin – and she turned my belief system upon its head!

The story of what she has achieved, and how she did it is a fascinating read – you can see it on her blog, at “Inspire Me Today“.

Yesterday, I was directed to this video by Nick Vujicic. One line from this incredibly inspiring man was:

“I want to live a life with NO LIMITS”
(these words take on a special new meaning when spoken by a man who has no arms – and no legs!)

One person I immediately thought of when I heard it was Gail Goodwin. Her thinking is big – seemingly limitless.

In 2006, together with her daughter, Gail created the ‘World’s Longest Letter’ of love and support to U.S.troops, the “Baby Come Back Home Soldier Scrolls”. The scrolls were more than 18 miles in length when they were signed by Congress at the US Capitol building in Washington, DC.

Her latest dream is to embrace the world – literally!

global hug tour, gail goodwin
The Global Hug Tour takes off on a plane ride around the world, touching 50 countries and sharing 2,000 hugs in each. Just 2 people in a small plane, setting out to make a difference, to change the world!

Why do it? Gail was touched by the story of a Marine named Jesse who requested a hug, and shared with her that inspiration is what gets him through the time in Iraq.

Gail returned to the U.S. and created InspireMeToday.com. All 2.5 million army personnel have unlimited free access to ALL powerful, energizing and inspiring interviews with her ‘luminaries’.

In her own words: “In a time where fear, doom and gloom seem to be the topic of the day, we choose to change the focus to something positive. Through opening our hearts and celebrating our global connectivity, bridges can be built between us.”

That’s what the Global Hug Tour is all about.

POSSIBILITY

Possibility that’s given a practical twist, where it takes on the mantle of probability – by the determined, focused and inspired actions of this dynamic duo… Gail Goodwin and her husband, Darryl, a veteran pilot.

Together, starting in May 2009, they will fly 30,000 miles around the world, stopping at 50 cities in 45 different countries – and share 100,000 hugs!

As they do it, they will also raise awareness about many critically important global problems like poverty, education, health care, children’s and women’s needs, wildlife preservation and entrepreneurship – and try to offer meaningful solutions.

No, they don’t think the Global Hug Tour will solve the Earth’s woes.

Yes, they believe we can make a difference together.

And we need YOU to help.
How?

For a $10 contribution, anyone can become a Hug Ambassador by sponsoring the delivery of a hug.

You get to choose the city and cause where your donation will make a difference.

Gail is visiting Chennai, India, to support the efforts of our Dr. Mani Children Heart Foundation. Think about it – just 100 hugs (or $1000) will save the life of a child with heart birth defects!

As a Hug Ambassador and supporter of the Global Hug Tour, YOU will make a difference.

Here’s where you can go to join the effort and sponsor a hug… click here.

In an eye-opening interview she did recently with Beth Kanter, Gail said:

“Imagine a world where we all played big, where we all contribute to the world in a bigger and more tangible way. If everyone focused on what’s right instead of what’s wrong… We want to inspire people to step forward in faith instead of fear and follow their own dream, knowing that with belief, anything is possible!”

I’m inviting you to be a part of that world.

Where YOU can play big. Where YOU can touch a life, make it better. Where YOU can live your deeper purpose.

Every day. One small step at a time.

If two regular people can follow their dream, then what’s stopping you from following yours?

You can become a Hug Ambassador.

Or you can simply hug someone today – and join the “Hug Me” game on Twitter (read the rules – it’s easy)

Whatever you want to do, do it. Because like Nick says in that video, “No Arms, No Legs, No Worries”:

“You’ve just got to keep moving in little baby steps… FORWARDS!

I’ll Match Your Hug!

If you become a Hug Ambassador and sponsor a hug for $10, I’ll match your contribution to the Global Hug Tour – so you’ll get to DOUBLE your impact!

I’ll do this for the first FIFTY hugs… one for each stop on Gail’s tour.

Click here to sponsor a hug. Then leave a comment on this blog saying you did it.

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From Past To Future

As kids, over the Christmas holidays, all of us cousins would head to grandpa’s home.  With 13 grandkids, and 16 years separating the eldest from youngest, it was predictable bedlam.  Good times.  Year after year.

Until we grew up, one by one.  Moved apart.  Had our own families.  And lives.

This afternoon, by a very strange and providential coincidence, 6 of us met over lunch.

One cousin had come from Australia, another from the U.A.E.  My sister had traveled 300 miles to be there.  And a dear childhood friend, one whom we had all lost track of for the better part of a decade, was there too.

Most of us brought our kids.  It was the first time they were all meeting at the same time.

Life had happened in the intervening years.  Two of the six were divorced.  One was already a grandmother.  For a few hours this afternoon, we were all children once more.

We excitedly relived the happy, halcyon, carefree days of our childhood and youth.  Like wine, the memories had grown richer with age.  Recollecting our shared escapades and antics was soul-nourishing.

My face hurt with all the laughing and smiling!

On the verge of a new year, as I look with hope and anticipation to the challenges and excitement of the next twelve months, I cannot help but realize how where I come from has influenced where I’m going.

Keeping in touch with our roots, our past, is such a critical component of our growth and development in the future… because it impacts, affects and influences a lot of what we do every day.

The trick is to nurture our past, without being trapped in it.

Happy New Year.

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What Youth Want

India today is a very different country from the one I grew up in.

Youngsters in India have always been smart – but today, they also have many more opportunities to show off their intelligence, leverage it into tangible benefits, even monetize it in a way that wasn’t easy or intuitive a few decades ago.

But one thing still remains the same. Your average young Indian lacks confidence. Self-belief. The secure inner knowledge that what they possess will translate into success.

When I was a teenager, film stars, business leaders, best-selling authors and politicians were remote, famous figures one could only admire from afar, or at best, dream of gawking at from modestly close quarters. Limited access was indeed cultivated and nurtured as a symbol of fame and greatness.

Today, I count as personal friends, or have at least had the privilege of meeting in person, celebrities like Bollywood movie superstar Amitabh Bachchan, America’s foremost business consultant Jay Abraham, bestselling writer Seth Godin, and a British Member of Parliament, among many more of the ‘Rich and Famous’ club.

And I no longer view this with the same awe and disbelief as a typical Indian youngster would. I’ve learned that they too are people, like me and you, whom you can meet and get to know – if you want to and are persistent enough.

Much of this confidence stems from traveling to many parts of the world, meeting and interacting with well-known personalities in different areas (medicine, sports, movies, politics and more), and therefore realizing how friendly and down-to-earth many of these ‘super stars’ really are – when you get to know them.

And a lot of it also comes from setting some daring targets, and accomplishing some difficult goals.

Dr.Mani in FAST COMPANY I was thrilled the first time my letter to INDIA TODAY magazine (with over 1 million readers) got published as part of the front page editorial – and even more so when my work with CHD was featured in a short write-up in FAST COMPANY.

I was excited about meeting and shaking hands with Jay Abraham at Detroit, having dinner at the House of Commons in London, and speaking with Frank McKinney on the telephone for half an hour.

Over time, success breeds confidence, and it just keeps growing in an upward spiral.

All this is a prelude to what I really wanted to write about…

How much more impactful would it be if every Indian youngster had this same confidence – early on in life?

Even to this day, I feel uncomfortable (and embarrassed) when someone calls on the phone, or emails me, or even tweets a note, and displays stunned disbelief and extreme excitement at actually communicating with ME – because they didn’t expect to be “talking to a celebrity”!

While I have seen star-struck behavior in other countries too, it is usually reserved for film stars and sports heroes. I’ve never seen pioneer heart surgeons mobbed at conferences, or folks queueing up to shake hands with even very popular writers or marketers.

Why do Indian youngsters have a relatively poor self-image, despite being equal (if not, as I personally believe, better than other nationalities) in competence, skills and education?

I suspect it is competition. Overwhelming, crushing, unnerving competition – that requires an outstanding effort to stand out and shine over a crowd of hundreds of millions of peers.

Many try and give up. Early, small success may help them start off on that upward spiral that never stops growing. And helping give that tiny boost is something I’ve focused on doing lately.

I’m funding a young college student through his physical education course – after which he will find a job as instructor in a high school, setting him financially free to support his elderly mother and family.

I’m mentoring a young man who is one of the most enthusiastic people I’ve taught – and in just a few months, I notice a significant increase in his degree of confidence and a more sure and secure note to his emails.

I’m helping a talented young blogger try and reach for the stars – by seeing if we can drive enough RSS feed subscribers to her blog and get her enough votes to win the ‘Blogging Idol 2’ contest.

I’m doing this because, in my heart, I believe that this confidence boost will completely alter their perspective and create the platform for their overwhelming success in the future.

Confidence – especially confidence in one’s own self – is often hard to gain… but once gained, is much harder to shatter.

Giving our youth this essential morale builder should probably be the responsibility and duty of every successful achiever.

It will change the world they grow up in – and make it a brighter place for all of us. Go, change YOUR world. Today.

.

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Meeting a SUPER-star

Dr.Mani meets Amitabh Bachchan

Who’s he?

See this – or this – or this!

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The Impact of a Vision

Last night I was very tired. Not just physically tired, but mentally exhausted, emotionally weary.

But I couldn’t sleep. For an hour, I tossed and turned, tortured by a haunting question:

Is It Worth Sticking With This?

For the first time in over 10 years the question hit me with force and persistence. I kept contrasting ‘what might have been’ with ‘what is’.

I could have chosen ease and comfort instead of struggle and frustration.

I could have been an adult heart surgeon instead of opting for the more demanding and delicate choice of treating sick children.

I could have joined the staff of a corporate hospital, enjoyed a steady and substantial paycheck, and made the occasional donation to charity. Instead I chose to try and build a structure that would be centered around charity and use creative ways to get funded.

I could have turned a blind eye to the financial problems faced by most families who had kids with heart defects and delivered my services to the 5% who could afford treatment. Instead I went about finding a solution, raising funds from various efforts.

I could have enjoyed a career built around academic achievement, professional recognition and surrounded by a network of peers who are admired and respected. Instead I opened myself to criticism and even ridicule by getting involved in online selling and writing ebooks.

I could have made stature and status my primary goals. Instead I answer questions that ask how I am different from the slew of scammers and con artists that rip off gullible victims on the Internet.

Suddenly, I’m tired of it all!

  • Tired that progress is so slow.
  • Tired of feeling like I’m always holding out a ‘begging bowl’ for contributions.
  • Tired of having to ‘defend’ what I’m doing – because it’s so counter-intuitive.
  • Tired of the risk that a decade’s hard work and goodwill could easily be destroyed – by gossip and innuendo.
  • Tired of being perceived as being ‘less of a doctor’ than someone who spends all day in a clinic or hospital.

After restlessly agonizing over these realizations, I must have dropped into a slumber.

When I awoke early this morning, the first words that came to mind were ones I had heard spoken by an accountant at a fundraising workshop for non-profits that I had attended a few years back.

He said:

“When I look at the rows and columns of figures on a spreadsheet, I do NOT see numbers… I see the faces of the children I am working to help!”

What a powerful vision! To see the purpose of your work in the day to day drudgery that makes a dream come true.

My sub-conscious must have dragged that vision statement out from the cob-webbed attic of my mind, presenting it as the inspiration and encouragement I needed to get up and going today – and for as many days as it takes to achieve my ambitious goals.

All of a sudden, I’m not so tired any more!
 What’s your vision?

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