Surround Yourself With Heroes

Blog, My Journey

Vivian Giang and Lynne Guey captured some words of advice Warren Buffet offered to Levo League members earlier this year in the following Business Insider article: Warren Buffett Shared Some Great Career Advice for Millennials 

My favorites:

2. Be careful who you look up to.

“If you tell me who your heroes are, I’ll tell you how you’re gonna turn out. It’s really important in life to have the right heroes. I’ve been very lucky in that I’ve probably had a dozen or so major heroes. And none of them have ever let me down. You want to hang around with people that are better than you are. You will move in the direction of the crowd that you associate with.”

4. Develop healthy habits by studying people.

“Pick the person that has the right habits, that is cheerful, generous, gives other people credit for what they do. Look at all of the qualities that you admire in other people … and say to yourself, ‘Which of those qualities can’t I have myself?’ Because you determine whether you have them. And the truth is you can have all of them.”

——-

These two align with the values behind this project.  1.  Surround yourself with people who you know you can learn a great deal from and, 2. study their habits and slowly integrate those habits into your daily life.

I am grateful to be surrounded by some incredible people, Harry Spence being one of them.   It’s nice to see that Buffett too has had help along the way and that studying others has gotten him to where he is.

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Listen or Fail

My Journey

The 10 Reasons Why We Fail

By David DiSalvo, Forbes Contributor

Every single one of the 10 reasons David DiSalvo offers in this piece speak to all the things that have played a role in some way or another in holding me back.  I’ve taken the liberty and transformed each into action steps:

1. Believe in yourself, and others will believe in you.
2. You are not what others say you are.
3. Rock the boat.
4. Life is short. Take risks.
5. Choose based on what you want to be remembered for.
6. You alone determine what role you let yourself play.
7. Accept that certainty is an illusion.
8. Don’t wait.  Go after what your heart desires.  Playing it safe doesn’t guarantee anything.
9. There’s always more to learn and ways to grow.
10. Learning to adapt and sit with uncertainty is imperative to living the life you seek to live.

The main takeaway:  Nothing is certain.  It’s more risky not to risk.  That is, if you want to live a life worth remembering.

Last week, I took a leap.  I quit my job.  The courage to do so came from knowing I could no longer not live the life I was seeking to live.  And it is taking every ounce of energy to not do all the things that DiSalvo lists.  To even sit with the question, “what do I want?” has been an excruciating task.  Why?  Because as soon I name it, what’s next is owning it and taking responsibility for all that follows.  Growing up is what some might call it.  And as Harry Spence has shown me, growing up is what I hope I always do for as long as I have in this life.

So, I don’t know what it means for you, but for me the challenge I sit with at the moment: To listen.  To listen to what my heart is telling me.  To really listen.  And to start to own what it is I hear in small ways to start.  Then hopefully in larger ways.  Quitting my job was hard as hell, but that was just step 1.  Hopefully, starting with a bit of believing in myself, I’ll make it to step 2 and 3, and so on and so forth, without giving up.

Leadership Redefined: The story of Dr. V

Links To Stories

Today, I share with you the following article: The Perfect Vision of Dr. V by Harriet Rubin (Fast Company)

Earlier this year, a friend sent me a copy of the above article.  And I am happy to now share it with you.

It’s about an Ophthalmologist in India whose story moves me every time I read it.  He may have passed away in 2006, but he is very much living proof of a life that I trust will challenge your conventional notions of what it looks like to lead, to live, and to be successful.

At the age of 58, Dr. V. opened a network of eye hospitals that has since served 32 million people, the majority of whom cannot afford his services.  Some facts taken from this article that give you an idea of why his model has been the focus of numerous case studies:

  • The free patients, whose medical services (including food and room) are covered entirely by the hospital, have a separate building. Paying customers are charged 50 rupees (about $1) per consultation and have their choice of accommodations: “A-class” rooms ($3 per day), which are private; “B-class” rooms ($1.50 per day), in which a toilet is shared; or “C-class” rooms ($1 per day), essentially a mat on the floor. Paying customers choose between surgery with stitches ($110) and surgery without stitches ($120).
  • There is no qualification for the free hospital.
  •  Aravind’s surgeons are so productive that the hospital has a gross margin of 40%, despite the fact that 70% of the patients pay nothing or close to nothing, and that the hospital does not depend on donations. Dr. V. has done it by constantly cutting costs, increasing efficiency, and building his market.
  • It costs Aravind about $10 to conduct a cataract operation. It costs hospitals in the United States about $1,650 to perform the same operation. Aravind keeps costs minimal by putting two or more patients in an operating room at the same time. Hospitals in the United States don’t allow more than one patient at a time in a surgery, but Aravind hasn’t experienced any problems with infections. Aravind’s doctors have created equipment that allows a surgeon to perform one 10- to 20-minute operation, then swivel around to work on the next patient — who is already in the room, prepped, ready, and waiting. Post-op patients are wheeled out, and new patients are wheeled in

I could not be more grateful to Harriet for doing an excellent job of capturing why he is very much living proof.  What he is living proof of for you, may not be the same for you, but my guess is our reasons won’t be so different.  Here are some other highlights of the values and principles that were the drivers behind his tremendous success in realizing his vision:

  • “For Dr. V., leadership begins with the pursuit of self-knowledge and a vision bigger than any that can fit in the prospectus of a single corporation. All his life, Dr. V. has resisted smallness. Yet there is nothing egotistic about him. He asks himself, “How can my work make me a better human being and make a better world?” That question is at the heart of the mystery of leadership. And to answer it is to seek perfection.”
  • “He came to believe that man has not reached the highest level of evolution, but that evolution will continue for several more stages until a higher intelligence is created. ‘Even the body has to be more perfect so that a new creature will result,’ says Dr. V.”
  • “I ask Dr. V. a simple question designed to get him to talk about his unique vision: ‘What are your gifts?’ I ask him. Dr. V. replies, ‘People thank me for giving them sight.’ This is no error of translation, no slipup of English. Dr. V. considers his gifts to be the things that he has given others, not what he possesses.”
  • “Part of Aravind’s service package includes love, courage, and total care. ‘You identify with the people with whom or for whom you work,” says Dr. V. “It is not out of sympathy that you want to help. The sufferer is part of you.'”
  • “‘Consultants talk of ‘the poor,’ ‘ he says. ‘No one at Aravind does. ‘The poor’ is a vulgar term. Would you call Christ a poor man? To think of certain people as ‘the poor’ puts you in a superior position, blinds you to the ways in which you are poor — and in the West there are many such ways: emotionally and spiritually, for example. You have comforts in America, but you are afraid of each other.'”

And it begins…

My Journey

After 6 months of over-thinking, stalling, and more stalling, I am finally posting my inaugural video for the Living Proof Project.

The idea for this project came to me when I went back to school in 2009.  In school and since, I’ve had the chance to meet people whose stories were proof to me that the life my heart was telling me I could live, could actually be lived.  Meeting people who had courageously charted a unique career path, who took an idea and made it into a business, to witnessing what a healthy and loving relationship looks like – their stories were proof of what I only imagined was possible.

This project came to life upon realizing that just by having access to real, very human stories, I could start to believe that I too can do the same. Hence, the name  – “the living proof project”.

This site is for those who are seeking. This site is for those who need that extra nudge to pursue what their heart is telling them.  This site exists to light a fire with the embers that are flickering in your gut.  This is a project to show you that if there is a vision you have for the future that you are itching to make into a reality, there is someone out there who is living proof that if they can do it, so can you.  And I believe that in the end, you’ll find that it’s never about the details.  The secret to their success lies in their courage and how they chose to approach their lives.

As will become clear when you hit play for my first three interviews, I have never used a camcorder before nor have I ever interviewed anyone. My questions aren’t perfect.  I interrupt with my loud laugh.  You’ll hear me “mm hmms” often.  And since I definitely don’t know how to edit videos, for now, the videos here are the long, uncut, full-length versions.  But I didn’t want to let those details stop me.  It is my hope that those shortcomings won’t keep you from connecting with the powerful stories that these individuals were courageously willing to share.

Mixed with these interviews, will be snippets of my own stories, and stories I find on the internet that align with the vision for the LP project. And at first, the interviews will be with people whom I know personally. Their stories may not speak to you as they still speak to me, but this is just the beginning.

The idea is to make accessible stories that one would typically disregard as being unattainable – to show you that you too can do the same. When I say “do the same”, I do not mean make the same choices and live the same life, I mean writing your own story.

For those who are seeking, feel free to share your story with me and the kind of “proof” you are seeking, and I will do my best to find living proof for you.  For those of you have a story that you wish to share, or if you want to interview someone who has been “living proof” for you, email me and we’ll publish it on this site.

My email:  mo @ thelivingproofproject.org.

And without further ado… let the concept that I dreamed of, which I had the courage to realize because of the people you will soon meet…. now commence.