Sacrifice

Any worthwhile achievement in history has been made at the cost of a sacrifice. In time. Of assets or resources. Even people’s lives.

“Take what you want, and pay the price” says God – Spanish proverb.

In a nutshell, one can sum up the concept of sacrifice thusly…

Give up something. Make sure it is valuable. Be seen to give it up.

Action

Making a Sacrifice Means That You Care

About something. Enough to give up something else.

Success in career comes at the cost of a life of ease and pleasure roaming the world. Raising happy, healthy children involves an investment in time and attention. Growing a thriving crop needs sustained hard work up front in tilling the land.

Quantum

How Big Is Your Sacrifice?

Giving up your first born at an altar to God was the supreme sacrifice we read about in mythology. In ancient times, farmers sacrificed their fattest cows and goats and pigs to appease what they saw as an angry Nature.

In general, the bigger your dream, the more you should be ready and willing to give up to reach it.

Perception

Does Anyone Care About What You Sacrifice?

This only matters when you care if anyone else sees what you’re giving up. (In many cases, that’s completely irrelevant.) But let’s say you do.

I could stop drinking tea for a day, and call it a sacrifice. A fellow tea-drinker would realize how big a deal that is… but not others.

For a bigger mission, the sacrifice must be broader based, one that others will understand – and appreciate.

For a “Heart Kids Blogathon“, I stay awake for 24 hours straight, updating my blog every 30 minutes, and doing it on Twitter too.

Thousands of people watch, participate and tell friends about it. Behind all this interest lies a sacrifice.

A relatively small one, in contrast to the really big ones that are made by families of the kids I treat for congenital heart defects. But a sacrifice nonetheless.

And my small sacrifice is to spend a day every year, spotlighting these real heroes in the journey of life. To show them off to you. To share their inspiring energy with you. To give you the same treasure I’ve received from them… the ability to trust that

DREAMS COME TRUE – If You Believe In Them With All Your Heart

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Feeling Intensely

Intense Feeling

Today is different. Ever since waking up, I’ve been feeling things differently.

More intensely.

It started first thing in the morning. Being disturbed early on a Sunday morning by bright sunlight streaming in through half-drawn curtains, the buzzing of a mosquito in my ear, would regularly leave me annoyed. Not today. I felt happy – that I have a roof over my head, a net to guard me from those tiny ‘marauding monsters’, and the gift of a new day to enjoy.

When I sat down to a breakfast of left-over macaroni and cheese, I didn’t feel vaguely dissatisfied or yearn for something tastier, fresher, healthier. Instead, I felt grateful – that there’s food on my table, and that I’m well enough to eat it, taste it, relish it.

The sight of my uncleaned car would typically irritate me, the act of giving it a hurried wash performed with distaste and in a rush. But today, I lingered over it, feeling joy – that I have a car (with a full tank) to drive to work.

As I wove my way over pot-holed roads, zig-zagging and swerving to avoid gaping voids in the tarmac, I didn’t curse and lament as usual. Not this morning. I was happy – that there was a road to drive on.

Stopping at red lights, always guaranteed to generate a frisson of frustration, didn’t change this overall mood either. I saw it as a symbol of a framework that allows peaceful, streamlined co-existence amongst thousands of my fellow citizens, the alternative to which is chaos and bedlam.

At hospital, I was examining my little patient who had heart surgery last week – and felt a rush of deep satisfaction for the work I’m involved in, mixed with a deep gratitude for having a healthy child of my own.

All this intense feeling about things I had taken for granted until today was because I realized, very poignantly and bluntly, how fragile things are in our Universe.

In Haiti, last week, there were people who had similar things – and they no longer do. Thousands aren’t even alive. Millions would gladly switch places with me – or you – without any hesitation.

And yet, how often have we felt intensely about what we have, what we are, what we could become?

Shouldn’t we feel intensely more often? About more things?

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The Price of Efficiency

Soon after my residency training in heart surgery, I worked at a corporate hospital for a few months. It was an efficient, streamlined unit. Surgeons spent most of their time inside the operating room. Different specialists managed specific parts of the patient care process.

But no one was involved in every part. And team members took pride in statistics like the total number of patients operated, low complication rates, and effective resource utilization.

It was impersonal.

When I returned after a fellowship in U.K. and Australia, I spent a year at another corporate hospital. The interaction with patients was slightly more for doctors, though not much.

Primarily, we performed operations, and responsibility for other areas was very limited. While some satisfaction for specific patient outcomes was felt, team members by and large rejoiced in numbers and data rather than people.

It was abstract.

Now, I head and manage my own program. It isn’t very large. I am directly engaged in every step of the process – whether it involves patients or not. There are days I feel more like purchase manager or HR executive than surgeon!

I am also responsible for anything that goes wrong or doesn’t work or is missing when it’s needed. Engagement with patients and their families is personal, direct and frequent. It can happen at inconvenient times during the day (or night, too).

It is intensely personal.

Today, as I waved goodbye to my little 6-year old patient who has recovered from a complex congenital heart defect repair and is going back home, I felt a thrill of sheer delight as he smilingly waved back, and a grin lit up his tiny shining face.

It felt special… because I’m involved in every part of his treatment.

Efficiency comes at a price.

But, so does inefficiency!

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(To You) What Is Success?

“Know what you want, and get it!”

Sushmita Sen, former Miss Universe

Sushmita Sen and Aishwarya Rai

The year was 1994. The world was bewitched by two Indian beauties. Ms.Sushmita Sen was crowned Miss Universe. Ms.Aishwarya Rai, her runner-up in the Indian contest, won the Miss World title.

In the years since, both have had careers that followed different paths. And many people feel one was more successful than the other.

But reading Ms.Sen’s quote again 15 years later made me pause and think. About success. And about how individual it is, as a concept.

What is “Success”?

I asked my audience on Twitter, and the answers were interesting. Before sharing them, let me express mine.

“Success is the freedom to do what you want to.”

That’s what I believe. It implies you are in control – to do things. And it presumes those are things you want to do.

My Book Was a Success

For many years, I have wanted to write a book – an Amazon.com best-seller. For one reason or another, it kept getting put off… until I finally did it.

On August 25th, 2009, I launched my first print book, “Think, Write & Retire!” It raced up the charts, to enter the HOT 100 list on Amazon.com, hitting #83 in the ‘Business & Investing’ category.

Think Write and Retire hits 83 on Amazon.com

My book was a success.

At around the same time, Chris Brogan launched his book, “TRUST AGENTS“. It hit #1 in two or three categories on Amazon.com (even reaching the 30’s overall among all books) – and has since gone on to become a New York Times and WSJ best-seller.

If I had wanted what Chris has achieved, then even with everything else being the same, my book would NOT have been a success!

Is Bill Gates a Success?

He has worn many crowns – as richest man in the world, multi-billionaire entrepreneur and co-founder of Microsoft, and now super-philanthropist who gives away his money to improve health and alleviate poverty in the world.

So, is he a success?

Most people would say “Yes, of course”. Some would disagree, and give their own reasons. But only one person can say if Mr.Gates is a success – HIMSELF!

Because only he knows what he wants – and if he’s free to get it.

Success Equals Happiness?

No.

Not unless you WANT to be happy – in which case, you are a success WHEN you are happy!

But while many people assume ‘success’ is the same as ‘happiness’, I would argue that the two are distinct – though not mutually exclusive. You may pursue success at the cost of happiness – and will still be ‘successful’, even if not happy.

The Ultimate Secret of Success!

So, is there a ‘secret’ to success?

Yes. And it’s a simple, even obvious one. A secret that, once you know it, you can start using today, immediately, right this very minute – to become a ‘success’.

Best of all, it is completely within your control!

What is the secret? Just this. Change what you want.

WHAT! That’s a cop out, you say?

No. Think back to when you were younger. Much younger. Did you want the same things you want today?

Very likely not. We grow. We evolve. We change. And as we do, what we want changes too. With it, your chance of success changes too – it gets better.

Think about the words spoken many years ago by a young lady who was at the top of the world – nay, the Universe!

“Know what you want, and get it!”

In it, hidden, lies the secret of your success.

Here are some of the responses to my question on Twitter, “To YOU, what is the definition of ‘Success’?” Please add yours by leaving a comment below.

@ebizindia – Success to me is achieving a well-defined target. You are not successful if you made major progress but fell short of target.

@ShaunOReilly – Success = Living your own life, in your own way, getting better every day and making a real difference in the lives of others

@Ed – One angle: enough $ to never have to harm health chasing a buck…

@TerryDean – Success is when you get up everyday in love with your life. It’s not a destination as much as a journey.

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Words, Music & Impact

A few hours before watching the memorial service to my favorite singer and entertainer, Michael Jackson, I was on YouTube seeing “The Making of Live Aid for Africa” – a musical extravaganza spearheaded by Michael and Lionel Ritchie that went on to raise over $60 million dollars in 1985 for fighting hunger in a famine-ravaged Ethiopia.

In addition to reminding me what made MJ special in my heart, the lyrics of the song also set off dormant, deeply buried memories – and set off a bright flash of insight.

“There’s a choice we’re making,
We’re saving our own lives,
It’s true we make a better day,
Just you and me!”

The verse has echoed in my mind for years. For decades.

And with a little shock of surprise, I realized that it, at least in part, had been responsible for my choice of career and direction – one that has touched and healed 47 little hearts until now, and hopefully will help many more.

Yes, it’s a choice I made many years ago. And the reason I was bold enough to make it was, probably, from knowing that by making it, I was “saving my own life”!

Sound corny? Not to an idealistic eighteen year old, no. It held promise – of a brighter future, a happier one.

And guess what? That ‘possible future’ is my daily reality today!

While peers and contemporaries are getting increasingly stressed out running on an ever-speeding up treadmill and getting nowhere, comforted by little more than the regular deposits in their bank accounts, I’m finding deep joy and spiritual nourishment from “making a better day” for people in need. Children with congenital heart defects.

Words have power – to inspire dreams.

Music has power – to infuse them with energy.

I’ve always envied kindergarden teachers for their incredible potential to plant seeds in fertile young minds that, over years, will sprout, grow and bear fruit in rich multiples of what first went into them.

But now I also envy singers, musicians, artists, writers and just about anyone else who has skills, talents and desire to use words and music to create impact.

Impact that goes far beyond anything you can consciously imagine. Impact that touches every little corner of the connected humanity that is our collective consciousness. Impact that manifests in so many strange, unexpected and delightful ways.

A song, co-ordinated, planned and performed by 30 artists on a summer day in 1985, can save thousands of lives in starving Africa – and at the same time inspire a young, aspiring doctor in India to set out on a dreamy path.

“Heal the world,
Make it a better place
For you, and for me,
And the entire human race”

That is impact. That is influence. That is what makes Michael Jackson a legend!

That is what the world celebrated in a fitting tribute to the ‘King of Pop’ on Tuesday, 7th July 2009.

It’s a celebration of the impact that words, music and memories made on millions of hopeful minds – over many decades.

We Are The World

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