Are You Mad ? And Why You Should Be!

Are you MAD or are you just going through the motions? I often ask myself this question. In this context MAD stands for “making a difference!” Three qualities in particular I would suggest are important for anyone serious about making a difference are fearlessness, focus and generosity.

Having a focused mind

Last week I attended a private screening for psychologists of an inspiring documentary called “Yes Madam Sir”. It's about Kiran Bedi, India’s first woman to join the Indian police force and who later made her mark as a fighter for social justice. What struck me most was her fearlessness in the many challenging situations she has faced, whether it be saving people from a burning building, creating community schools in the slums or running India’s toughest prison with 10,000 inmates. In one situation, where angry rioters brandishing swords had run amuck and her own police regiment had scattered, Bedi armed with just a baton, single-handedly faced off the rioters. When a BBC reporter later asked her “Were you scared?” Bedi responded “Not at all...because my mind was focused.”

At the film screening we had the opportunity to talk with the makers of the movie, mother and daughter team, Laraine and Megan Doneman. They explained the project involved them living with, and following Bedi around intermittently over a six year period. Megan, who has worked on movies such as Lord of the Rings, had been inspired by Bedi since childhood. When asked what she was like up front and personal, Laraine said that while Bedi had a larger than life personality, she also seemed able to put her ego aside and act with absolute fearlessness and generosity of spirit in the pursuit of her goals. (At the end of this tip I have provided a link to a short talk by Bedi where she discusses her 90/10 theory of life and a link to the film trailer).

Brand passion in action

While most of us do not have the vision and drive of a Kiran Bedi, every encounter we have with others provides opportunities to make a difference. This of course includes encounters with customers. For instance, as a long term Qantas customer, I have been feeling cynical lately about their brand due to the handling of recent events. But yesterday a small act of kindness from a Qantas employee changed that.

A few weeks earlier I had seen some two-for-one vouchers, promoting the film “Midnight in Paris”, in the Qantas Club Lounge. Yesterday while in the Lounge I casually asked a staff member if they had any vouchers left as I wanted to take my wife to the movie. She said she’d heard it was a great movie and went off to find me one. A few minutes later she emerged empty handed and disappointed. I thanked her for trying. Then she lit up as though remembering something, grabbed her handbag and pulled out a voucher with a flourish. “Here take this and make sure you take your wife out to dinner afterwards!” she joked.

At that moment, this simple act of spontaneous generosity somehow changed my jaundiced view of the Qantas brand. It again reminded me of the power each individual has to make a positive difference.I recommend you look out for the “Yes Madam Sir” movie which will be on limited release throughout Australia in early December. You can see Kiran Bedi’s short talk here and the movie trailer here.

Until next time I hope you keep well and truly MAD!

Greg Nathan

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