Diana, the Compassionate Princess of Wales

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I still remember what I did on that sad day. It was the 31st of August 1997. Our son was just a baby in Great Britain. I brought him downstairs in the morning, strapped him to his seat and  switched the television on. The pictures were beamed live on BBC TV News from Paris, Diana, Princess of Wales had died in hospital, at the age of 36,  following a car crash, in a tunnel. The Alma tunnel lies beneath the Pont d’Alma (Alma bridge) in Paris, France. It was such a shock, Diana, (Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair had described her as the ‘People’s Princess’), was no more. She had thrown herself into her work with several charities, following the much publicized divorce with Prince Charles. She had a special place in the hearts of the British people. They called her a style icon, a caring and compassionate human being,  someone who could easily connect with ordinary people.

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The death of a Princess, shocked not only Great Britain but people across the world. She was so well known and loved by so many. The people of Great Britain found it difficult to comprehend that Diana was no more. On the day she died, Christian Leaders in Great Britain released messages and prayers to the British media – here is the message from Lord Carey who was Archbishop of Canterbury in 1997. Even Christian leaders were all stunned by the death of Diana. The Christian Post published an article that Princess Diana had deeper Christian Faith than people believed – this was according to a special ‘Songs of Praise’ TV Special on BBC Television in Great Britain.

“I think she had a stronger faith than people give her credit for,” said Mike Whitlam, former director-general of the British Red Cross, according to The Telegraph newspaper. “She wanted to put love where there was hatred, and make a huge difference to people’s lives so that they could live a better life. When you talk to people about making the world a better place, there are not many people who think it’s doable. She did.”

At the time I was an educator as well as a writer and I received a press invitation to follow the funeral proceedings from the Church House in Westminster. The Church House is the home of the headquarters of the Church of England, occupying the south end of Dean’s Yard, next to Westminster Abbey in London. I remember getting up very early and making my way to Westminster tube station. I thought I was early but when I left the tube station, all I could see were a sea of faces. The area surrounding Westminster Abbey was packed with people behind the barriers – even at the time of the morning. Security was tight. There were hushed tones on the streets of London, people waited patiently for several hours for the procession to pass by them. Some people had camped over night.

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The day before the funeral, my wife and I went to Kensington Palace and laid flowers by the main gate. The place was awash with flowers, tributes, scarves, flags, photographs. It was as if the whole nation was grieving. The London Underground was heaving with people, making their way to Kensington Palace, to remember this very special Princess. I got caught up in the moment. Church House was packed with the international media. I guess representatives of every single network from around the world were in that room. All the American networks were there. At one briefing I found myself seated next to the UK Channel 4 Television News anchor, Jon Snow (the longest serving news presenter at Channel 4), and we got talking about Diana. Everyone in the room was talking about her. She lived a life in pictures and words. The funeral was beamed onto a huge screen in Church House.

A poignant moment was when Elton John sang ‘Candle in the Wind,’ at the service in Westminster Abbey next door. He had changed the words, in order to pay a moving tribute to Princess Diana at one point he sang ‘now you belong to heaven.’ He also sang that she flew on ‘the wings of compassion.’ The well known lyricist, Bernie Taupin had written new words to the song and added a title:  ‘Goodbye England’s Rose.’ The Guinness Book of Records said that the song “Candle in the Wind 1997” is the second highest selling single of all time (behind Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” from 1942) and is the highest-selling single since charts began in the 1950s. It became the best selling single in UK Chart history.

Here Charles Spencer, recounts losing his sister, Princess Diana, at the Westminster Abbey service. He spoke movingly about his sister in his eulogy: “Without your God-given sensitivity we would be immersed in greater ignorance at the anguish of AIDS and H.I.V. sufferers, the plight of the homeless, the isolation of lepers, the random destruction of landmines. ” Charles Spencer spoke of her compassion: “Diana was the very essence of compassion, of duty, of style, of beauty. All over the world she was a symbol of selfless humanity. All over the world, a standard bearer for the rights of the truly downtrodden, a very British girl who transcended nationality. “

I remember coming out of the Church House and going past the back entrance of Westminster Abbey after the funeral service. Elton John’s Rolls Royce was parked by the back entrance – Elton John and George Michael were standing by the car, they looked shocked and were speaking in hushed voices about Diana.

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People were wailing outside Westminster Abbey, many were overcome with emotion. I did feel a sense of sadness that Great Britain had lost someone who reached out in compassion to the vulnerable, the socially excluded and the down trodden. I wrote a tribute to her and mentioned the word ‘downtrodden,’ in a letter published in the Daily Mail in London, before her funeral service. I felt she genuinely had a heart for the downtrodden and really wanted to lift them up. This was compassionate leadership in action. Diana had said she had come to serve the outcasts, the marginalized, those who had no hope.

She may have been born into a world of privilege and class but I do believe that Diana, Princess of Wales had a compassionate heart. I remember in the 1980s when HIV/Aids was always in the news. There was a real stigma attached to Aids,  fueled by the media. In the 1980s I flew down to Sri Lanka on holiday. While I was in Colombo, I heard that an old school friend who had lived in France for a while in the 1980s had contracted Aids and had returned to Sri Lanka, to spend his last few months at home. I wanted to see him – I telephoned him at his home in Colombo and spoke to him several times. But my friends urged me not to visit his home. They said all kinds of things to me – they said it was contagious. I felt a sadness that I heeded their advice and didn’t visit my friend before he passed away. It was misguided advice. When I returned back to Great Britain, I read the newspaper report of Princess Diana visiting the hospital beds of AIDs patients, holding their hands and speaking to them with compassion.

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I saw this photograph in 1987 in the United Kingdom. Here was Princess Diana shaking hands with an AIDS patient without wearing gloves. In April 1987, the Princess opened the UK’s first purpose built HIV/Aids unit that exclusively cared for patients infected with the virus, at London Middlesex Hospital. In front of the international media, Diana shook the hand of a man suffering with the illness. She publicly challenged the notion that HIV/Aids was passed from person to person by touch.

Earl Spencer had mentioned the fact that when Diana visited Nepal she went into a leper clinic and there again she challenged people’s ideas and fears about lepers – that they were ‘untouchables.’ Here is a picture of Diana touching lepers in Nepal, the Princess was Patron of the Leprosy Mission and visited Leprosy clinics in India, Nepal, Zimbabwe and Nigeria. When you examine the photograph below, you can see the genuine compassion here, I think this photograph speaks volumes:

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People have also highlighted her work with the victims of landmines. She visited danger zones where the Halo Trust were involved in de-mining ,including Angola.

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A year after Princess Diana’s death I was involved with some Public Relations and Marketing work with the Sri Lankan test (cricket) team who had arrived in London to play just one test match with the England team at the Oval Cricket Grounds. The players got talking about Princess Diana during conversations at the hotel. I said I would try to contact Earl Spencer, her brother who lived on the Althrop Estate, the family seat. Now Charles Spencer was a huge cricket fan. I believe he played cricket at Eton and Oxford. Charles Spencer is a Patron of the Northamptonshire Cricket Club in the United Kingdom. He was also an on-air correspondent with NBC News in the United States of America, from 1986 to 1995, working for the network’s morning programme, Today, and NBC Nightly News.

I was pleasantly surprised when I contacted his office at Althrop Manor – Earl Spencer extended a warm invitation for the cricketers to visit Althorp – they were the first ever international test cricket team to be invited to Althrop Manor, to pay their respects at Diana’s Memorial. The team bus made it’s way to Althrop Park. We were invited into Althrop Manor by Earl Spencer’s Private Secretary and afterwards we made our way to Princess Diana’s grave, situated in the grounds. Her grave is on an island in the middle of a lake known as the Round Oval, which is located within the Althorp Park garden.

The grave of Diana, Princess of Wales on an island at Althrop House

 

The island where Diana, Princess of Wales is buried at Althrop House

I just thanked God for her short life and for her service to others and said a prayer as we stood on the other side of the island. Princess Diana changed the way people treated and viewed those who had HIV/Aids, her work with the Leprosy Mission – which is an international Christian charity  and the work she undertook with the Centrepoint charity in London so impacted on the lives of people.  It was a very poignant moment for all of us. There is also a memorial to Diana within the grounds of Althrop Park.

Memorial to Diana Princess of Wales at Althrop House

The memorial to Diana, Princess of Wales at Althrop House

The memorial to Diana, Princess of Wales at Althrop House

Arjuna Ranatunga, Captain of the Sri Lanka cricket test team and family visit the grave of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1998.

In the photograph above, Arjuna Ranatunga, Captain of the Sri Lanka cricket test team and family make their way to the grave of Diana, Princess of Wales at Althrop, in 1998. The test team signed a cricket bat for Charles Spencer and also presented a book of poems on Princess Diana. And so we said goodbye to England’s Rose.

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I think it is great that the sons of Prince Charles and Lady Diana – Prince William and Prince Harry have inherited that spirit of compassion and her legacy of love and kindness. They are showing Compassionate Leadership in the work they have thrown themselves into – in the UK and abroad. The first charity that Prince William decided to support in 2005 was Centrepoint which was a charity reaching out to homeless people in Great Britain. When they were children, Princess Diana used to take them to meet homeless people at Centrepoint when she was Patron of the charity. Prince Harry is well known for creating the Invictus Games in which wounded, injured or sick armed services personnel and their associated veterans take part in sports including wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, and indoor rowing. The games were named after Invictus, in Latin the word means “unconquered” or “undefeated”, the event was inspired by the Warrior Games held in the United States of America. Long may their work aimed at helping and supporting the vulnerable continue.

Ivan Corea

 

Photographs of Diana, Princess of Wales courtesy of Wikipedia, Huffington Post. Photographs of Prince William, Prince Harry  and Westminster Abbey, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Film Clips of Elton John at the funeral service of Diana Princess of Wales and Charles Spencer, Christian Leaders on the death of the Princess, courtesy of youtube.

Some information courtesy of Wikipedia.

All photographs of Diana’s grave and Althrop Memorial copyright of  © Ivan Corea 2019

The Christian Post article on Diana and her Christian faith: https://www.christianpost.com/news/princess-diana-had-deeper-christian-faith-than-people-believed-new-tv-special.html

If you are ever in Great Britain and you are planning to visit Althorp Estate – although visitors are not allowed on the island – here is the link: https://spencerofalthorp.com/visit/

 

 

Walt Disney’s Legacy – It all started with a Compassionate Mouse

 Walt Disney was a genius. He was born on December 5, 1901, in Chicago, Illinois, in the United States of America. His parents were Elias Disney‍ and Flora. He was a man of vision, with big dreams. He didn’t just live in a world of dreams, he actively set out to make them happen. Those dreams have impacted on the lives of millions of children, young people and adults all over the world – even in some of the poorest nations of the earth. You don’t have to be physically in Disneyland – you can be transported into Walt Disney’s magical world by just reading a comic book or playing with a Disney soft toy or by just looking at a picture of Mickey Mouse. As children we  clamored for all things Disney, but we didn’t have access to them. I recollect they weren’t even available in stores in Colombo, Sri Lanka, certainly not anything from America back then.  My Dad bought us three Disney toothbrush holders – Mickey, Minnie and Donald. Just by looking at the figures as we brushed our teeth, we were reminded of these cartoon characters.

micket toothebrushI was born on an island in the Indian Ocean called  Ceylon, it is now called Sri Lanka. We didn’t have the funds as a family to travel from Ceylon to Disney in Anaheim, California in the 1960s or 1970s. But that did not stop us from dreaming about Disney’s characters. There was no television in 1960s Ceylon. However Disney films were screened in cinemas in Colombo, from time to time. Our favorite was ‘Mary Poppins,’ starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. The film released in 1964 was directed by Robert Stevenson and produced by Walt Disney. It received 13 Oscar nominations and won 5 Oscars. After seeing the film in Colombo, we learnt a new word: supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

 Back in the 1960s there was a travelling book salesman who would come to our home with a suitcase strapped to the back of his bicycle. This ingenious entrepreneur would bring a selection of books with him. My grandfather was a voracious reader so there was a ready made target market in our home! The travelling salesman would go house to house, visiting homes – inside that suitcase was a treasure trove of books and yes comic books. My parents couldn’t even afford to give us pocket money but our grandfather, out of the kindness of his heart, would buy us a few comic books. There were many power outages, sometimes daily ‘power cuts’ as we used to call them when we were growing up in Colombo – we would stick a candle on a tin and read these books!

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That’s when we first came across the magic of Disney on an island in the Indian Ocean, far removed from the magical kingdom built by Walt Disney in Anaheim in Southern California, in the United States of America.

We seem to have handed down our love for Disney to our children. Our son was born in the United Kingdom in the 1990s. By that time the market was flooded with books, DVDs, CD music, cartoons on the television networks that he could watch and experience the magic of Disney. Charin first came across Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Donald Duck, Pluto, Scrooge and all the lovable Disney characters, when he was about three or four years old in the 1990s.

Charin was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Autism has been defined as a ‘complex developmental disability’ appearing in the first three years of life. We bought him Disney videos and he loved them. He used to giggle with laughter and as some children with autism like to do, he used to wind and re-wind the video to the funny parts and look at the scenes over and over again – and scream with laughter. Those Disney pictures stayed inside him.

Charin fell in love with Disney long before he visited Florida. Even though Charin had withdrawn into his own world he was still very visual – Chari thinks differently- in pictures and numbers. Temple Grandin the leading US animal behavior expert who has autism once said: ‘I think in pictures. My mind is like Google images.’ It fits in very well with what Walt Disney imagined, Walt Disney said: “Of all of our inventions for mass communication, pictures still speak the most universally understood language.”

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Charin at first was not aware of Disneyland in Florida – he had watched all the videos. Our son is a whizz on computers and as he kept looking at websites he came across the Disney websites and then he kept telling us ‘I want to go to Florida.’ That would be his ‘dream holiday,’ A holiday of a lifetime. Finally, we were able to fulfil that promise to our precious son. Life is hard for him and for us but we thank God we were able to use some unexpected money via an ISA which came our way to take him to Florida. It brought joy to his heart.  Walt Disney was absolutely right. Charin was transported into a magical world – it was truly awe-inspiring for him. He loved every minute of it. Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Blizzard Beach…….Charin has been there, done it, worn the t-shirt. Charin had fallen in love with the world of Walt Disney.

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Meanwhile we had heard favorable reports from other British families with autism about their experiences in Florida. People were blogging about it, talking about it. During our holiday to Disneyland in Florida, we were able to present Mickey and Minnie Mouse with a very special Gold Autism Award for spreading that magic to families with autism from the UK. The award was presented to the Vice-President of Disney, Greg Hale, at Walt Disney World in Orlando. Charin was also invited to present the award to Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse. He was absolutely thrilled.

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Many more families with autism are travelling to Disneyland in Florida, to experience that magic. We had prepared him for the journey with a visual timetable. We contacted the airport authorities, the travel company and the airline. Families with autism can never ever take anything for granted. Some young people with autism have a fear of the unknown. Charin wants to know exactly what is going to happen next. When help and support is forthcoming, it really makes it an easier task for families with autism to travel whether it is local, national or international travel. In the past we have worked very closely with Orlando International Airport and Sanford International Airport and the airlines, with regards to families with autism travelling with them. Our campaigning days are over but we were grateful for the opportunity to share with people about the travel needs of families who have children or young people with autism, after all they are paying customers too. On a recent visit we were thrilled to see cast members with disabilities including cerebral palsy and autism being involved as employees – for example making announcements. That was wonderful to see them playing a role as cast members at Walt Disney World. Their lives were being valued by the Walt Disney Company. There are business benefits in employing people with disabilities.

We found the cast members at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida and Disneyland in Anaheim, California so helpful and supportive. We recently visited Disney in California, the cast member at Guest Relations took her time to explain everything to us and to our son. She did not rush us and we were grateful for the time taken and the care given to a family with autism. She looked into our son’s eyes, gave him eye contact and spoke to him, personally, about the day. I have to place on record that it was exemplary customer service. That was our experience.

Charin is into all things hi-tech, he loved Epcot and the hi-tech gadgets. On our  2012 trip to Orlando, we visited Typhoon Beach for the first time and Charin enjoyed every minute of it – although he made a beeline to safety when he saw the six foot wave coming his way! Charin enjoyed the Phineas and Ferb’s agent’s mission at Epcot. He felt like an agent and took the assignment very seriously. Our son was rather scared of the faster rides so anything slow was his cup of tea! His favorite place is Magic Kingdom, he loved to get lost in it. This is where Walt Disney’s ‘magic’ came alive for Charin – whether it was the afternoon parade.(he even danced with his mother following the back of the parade), or Toy Story, Stitch, Star Wars, Soaring, the amazing Castle and all the other characters. It was almost like being on a continuous film set for our son. He enjoyed this constant film reel of pictures and characters.

Charin was fascinated by Walt Disney’s life and he wanted to return to Hollywood Studios to see Walt Disney’s office, his first drawings of Mickey Mouse and his desk.
It was amazing how Charin was able to make the connections between the creator and the creation. It was a striking visual picture for him.

It all started with a Mouse. But the legacy of that mouse has brought the magic, the enjoyment, the laughter, the sense of awe and wonderment even into the life of a young person with autism.

Joy is a fruit of the spirit, when you walk into the Magic Kingdom or any other Disney Park you can clearly see joy on the faces of children and indeed the adults!

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The sheer pleasure of seeing Charin’s face break into a smile has made it all worthwhile for us as a family. Walt Disney’s World was a very enjoyable and fascinating world for this young man of ours. And yes, he wants to return to Disneyland, again and again and again!

Walt Disney was a Compassionate Leader. He doted on his girls. I think his number one desire was to make them happy. He viewed his children through the eyes of compassion, Disney was very much a family man. Disney has been quoted as saying: ‘The most important thing is family.’ He wanted his children to enjoy their childhood. He wanted them to have fun. The ideas just kept coming out of his imaginative mind. Walt Disney was a visionary. He dreamt of establishing an amusement park – Disneyland fired up his imagination – it was going to be a family friendly park where a child’s imagination can run riot. He really believed in what he was doing. Walt Disney was a transformational and charismatic leader. He was an expert in the art of communication and made sure he communicated the vision to his team. Disney has been hailed as one of the most creative minds of all time and led America’s golden age of animation.

Disney wanted to create a world that made people happy. His television show Disneyland became an absolute phenomenon. Children started calling him ‘Uncle Walt.’ He once said: ‘Fancy being remembered around the world for the invention of a mouse!” Disney holds the record for most Academy Awards earned by an individual, having won 22 Oscars from 59 nominations. Disney also earned 3 Golden Globe Awards and 1 Emmy Award. There were many times he experienced failure in his life, he even lost the rights to his first cartoon creation ‘Oswald the Rabbit,’ together with his artists. Despite that setback he picked himself up and went on to create the highly successful ‘Mickey Mouse.’ Walt Disney never gave up on his  dreams, despite experiencing in his own words: ‘a case of the D.D.s – disillusionment and discouragement.’

Walt Disney also used empathy as a powerful leadership tool, stories abound of Disney sending his employees to join lines and to put themselves in the shoes of their customers and see it through their eyes, in order to learn from it and improve on these experiences, in an effort to make things better for people visiting Disneyland. By becoming the other you open up a world of understanding and Walt Disney’s aim was to make every single visitor enjoy the experience. Walt Disney said: “I don’t want the public to see the world they live in while they’re in the Park. I want them to feel they’re in another world.” He also said: “I think what I want Disneyland to be most of all is a happy place–a place where adults and children can experience together some of the wonders of life, of adventure, and feel better because of it.”

Walt Disney was hugely optimistic about the future of the United States of America. In 1971 his love for America inspired the creation of the Hall of Presidents – he honored the nation by honoring the American Presidency – our son absolutely loves the Hall of Presidents in Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida:

This is the first ever Mickey Mouse cartoon film created by Walt Disney and his team of artists and  premiered on the 18th of November, 1928 at the Colony Theater in New York City. . It was the first ever cartoon that used sound to complement the visual pictures – it became an instant smash hit. LIFE Magazine enthused: ‘Everybody liked Mickey. The children who thought he was funny, the philosophers who thought he represented America’s raucous individualism, the aesthetes who saw in him the first successful adjustment of linear design to the fluttering motion of films.’ Mickey Mouse became an overnight star.

Here are Walt Disney’s Top 10 rules of success:

  1. Show some magic
  2. Invest in Knowledge
  3. Diversify
  4. Know your goals
  5. Try it on a small scale
  6. Experiment
  7. Help your Community
  8. Go with your feeling
  9. Day dream
  10. Have a sense of humor

Ivan Corea

Here is an interesting article from the Disney Institute – Leadership lessons from Walt Disney – How to inspire your Team: https://www.disneyinstitute.com/blog/leadership-lessons-from-walt-disney–how-to/

Is there a Business Case for Compassionate Leadership?

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Here is an interesting research project from Roffey Park assessing whether there is a business case for compassionate leadership.

Compassionate-Leadership-Booklet

7 inspiring traits of Compassionate Leadership

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“The driving forces of exceptional leadership are desire, self-awareness and, most important, compassion. Effective leadership cannot prevail under negative circumstances such as putdowns, dishonesty, demands, frustration, denigration, manipulation, fear or micromanagement. These negative forces create high turnover, a lack of productivity, a lack of motivation and a negative attitude in those required to produce.

To be great, leaders must have the necessary empathy to inspire understanding and knowledge in team members. Empathy is key. Empathy begins with taking an understanding of life from the experience and perception of another. When empathy is present, defensiveness decreases and something positive replaces it. Empathy opens doors and removes confusion. It softens the minds and hearts of others. When people are open, this is exactly when the compassionate leader can be more creative in solving problems in ways that drive productivity and long-term success,” notes author Sherrie Campbell.

To follow are seven traits of compassionate leadership shared by Sherrie Campbell on Entrepreneur. com:

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/310391

Compassionate Billionaires?

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Oxfam, the British humanitarian charity released a report in 2017 stating that the global economy created a record number of billionaires in that year, exacerbating inequality amid a weakening of workers’ rights and a corporate push to maximize shareholder returns.

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According to Oxfam: the world now has 2,043 billionaires, after a new one emerged every two days in the past year, the nonprofit organization said in a report published in 2018. The group of mostly men saw its wealth surge by $762 billion, which is enough money to end extreme poverty seven times over.

Bloomberg compiled research suggesting that the top 500 billionaires’ net worth grew 24% to $5.38 trillion in 2017, while the world’s richest person, Amazon Inc.’s Jeff Bezos, saw a gain of $33.7 billion.

(http://time.com/money/5112462/billionaires-made-so-much-money-last-year-they-could-end-extreme-poverty-seven-times/)

So would we find compassionate billionaires who would be prepared to say give 3/4s of their wealth away to feed to starving, help eradicate disease, fund wells for water and schools to lift up the poorest of the poor?

You do find billionaires who have had hearts of compassion and given it all away. Here are 10 stories of wealthy people who gave their fortunes away in order to help others:

https://listverse.com/2013/12/24/10-refreshing-stories-rich-people-who-gave-their-fortunes-away/

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Among them is the Irish billionaire, Chuck Feeney. According to the Irish Times:

“Chuck Feeney today is a man of no property. He and his wife Helga live in a modest rented apartment in San Francisco. He has no car or luxuries of any kind. Actually, come to think of it, he has a very nice watch. It is plastic and cost about $15. There are no trophies or vanity photographs in the apartment to show that he has devoted his $8 billion fortune to making the world a better place.”

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/chuck-feeney-the-billionaire-who-gave-it-all-away-1.3413084

Photograph of Chuck Feeny courtesy of the Irish Times.

 

 

 

 

Feeding Hungry Homes in Sri Lanka at Christmas

” For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Matthew 25:35-40

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This is David. He leads GOD TV on the island of Sri Lanka. His heart beats for those who are suffering. He cannot and will not walk by on the other side. During Christmas David is ‘feeding hungry homes,’ in the name of Jesus. This involves over 27 Assemblies across Sri Lanka. Each of these food packs will last a Sri Lankan family of four for an entire month.

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There are those who are struggling to exist at Christmas, David and God TV are reaching out to their Sri Lankan brothers and sisters in compassion, with so much love. In Isaiah Chapter 58: verse 10 where we are called to: ” Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon. ” This is compassion in action.

FOOD

Ivan Corea

5 Lessons in Compassionate Leadership

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Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

It doesn’t cost to be ‘compassionate.’ It comes from the heart. The very definition of the word ‘compassion,’ presents a rich tapestry of caring for the suffering of other people, going that extra mile to relieve suffering.

I have witnessed incredible acts of compassion and kindness, in the City of Redding, in California. People feeding the homeless, driving them for breakfast, being involved in city wide projects. Once the battery in my cell phone had gone dead when I was in Lake Boulevard in Redding, California. I had just arrived in the city, I didn’t really know my way, had no car and needed to get home. A man came out of this office block. He asked me if everything was OK. I told him my phone was dead. Without hesitation, he said ‘I will drive you home.’ That was compassion in action.

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Winston Churchill was inspirational, heroic and compassionate. A quote attributed to Churchill says this: ‘We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.’ It could be a smile, a kind word, giving someone a meal, giving of your time to listen to someone, helping a stranger financially, serving the community – there are so many ways to give.

It takes a great deal of strength and character to be a good person. Compassionate leaders are sometimes seen as weak, without a backbone, a ‘soft touch.’ Some feel they need to ‘trash talk’ their competitors, rivals, the opposition, to show ‘who is boss.’ Not so. Compassionate Leaders can be ‘life changers,’ and ‘world changers.’  You don’t have to maintain a certain style of leadership where you are seen to be ‘strong’ if you are coercive, forceful, authoritarian. When you are compassionate, you increase the capacity of your workforce, your community, the people around you, to be compassionate themselves – this potentially leads to happiness, thereby decreasing stress and anxiety. You bring optimism and hope into an organisation by being a Compassionate Leader.

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I was born in Colombo, Ceylon, (now Sri Lanka), where I witnessed ‘compassion in action,’ in my own family. I saw my grandfather, Reverend Canon Ivan Corea, reaching out to a Sri Lankan community called the ‘Rodi’, who were treated like untouchables, outcasts of society. My grandfather (who was a clergyman), found them employment, clothed them, fed them and housed them on church property. He made a lasting impact on my life. When my grandfather passed away I witnessed a very moving sight, over a hundred members of the Rodi, the poorest of the poor, (there were also those who had turned to Christ), had heard he had gone to be with Jesus his Lord, Master and Savior in Heaven and they were weeping uncontrollably – he had touched their lives – they remembered his acts of compassion.

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Jesus is a very powerful example of a Compassionate Leader. ‘Jesus Wept,’ are two of the most emotionally loaded words in the Bible. ( John Chapter 11: verse 35) He was moved by emotion for people who came to see him and hear him – he put compassion into action by healing the sick, causing the blind to see, raising the dead, feeding people when they were hungry. It was always ‘to the least of these.’

 Here are 5 lessons in Compassionate Leadership:

  1. Serve others – go that extra mile for people in your workforce, your community.
  2. Be open, honest, transparent, in your communication with others.
  3. Be flexible – you may have to set aside the rule book of your organisation in the interests of others.
  4. Lead by example – preach what you practice, you need to be compassionate yourself and genuinely so.
  5. Avoid trying to motivate your workforce by judging your employees and criticising them in front of others. Lift them up, speak up for them, show them kindness. It will bring positive organisational change – for the better.

 

Ivan Corea

LIFE LESSONS – 7 TIPS FROM MY FATHER

My father, Vernon, introduced me to faith in Jesus Christ at a very early age. It led to a personal relationship with Christ in 1974 in the quietness of the Chapel of the Transfiguration at St. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia, in Sri Lanka, especially after I listened to the riveting messages of the Chaplain, Reverend Duleep Chickeira who told us that Christianity was not a religion but a relationship with Jesus Christ. Every morning before we left for school, we would sit in the front room as a family, in Maha Nuge Gardens in Colombo, (the capital of Sri Lanka) on a mat, studying the word of God from the Bible and praying together as a family. These were very special moments.

Throughout his life my father taught me powerful lessons, to keep me grounded. I would like to share these life lessons with you – 7 key tips my father taught me:

  1. All you need is love.

The greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians, Chapter 13).He gave us so much love, he used to hug us, kiss us, cuddle us as children. He was a very loving human being. I will always remember the time I telephoned him to say I was travelling to New Malden in Surrey to meet him. Despite being feeble, Dad had walked up the road to meet me, much to my surprise, he was waiting for me, standing by some bollards – when he saw me, his eyes lit up and he gave me a massive hug. At that moment, I felt the unconditional love of my earthly father, just like the love that comes from my Heavenly Father. When I was working in Central London, I would walk to my desk and listened to my voice messages on the telephone. There it was, a message from my Father, telling me how much he loved and blessing my day. I so appreciated that message of love from him, it really lifted me up at the start of the day.

  • People are more important than things

You can’t take your money, your house, your car, your high-powered job, your possessions to the grave. My father taught me that while I was on this earth, to look after the needs of others and go that extra mile. He told me not to bother about things but to be a people centered person. They are far more important than our possessions on earth he said.

  • Be Compassionate

My father said I should always be compassionate, empathizing, feeling for others and help those who were suffering. Neville Jayawaeera, the former Director-General of the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation writing about Dad said: ‘His sense of loyalty to his management and to his profession and his compassion and concern for those who worked under him were exemplary. I recall many instances when he would intercede on behalf of some hapless subordinate who had fallen foul of the management without even flinching from his loyalty to the latter.’ 

  • Honesty is the best policy

My father was recalling a time when we lived in Colombo, Sri Lanka when a man came to him and presented him with an envelope. He asked the man what is this? When he opened the envelope, there was a wad of bank notes –this was clearly a bribe as the man wanted him to do a ‘favor.’ Dad tore the envelope up and requested him to leave. He could not be bought. Subsequently a ‘charm’ was buried near the front entrance of the house – the intention was for something terrible to happen to us, purely because my father refused to accept the bribe. My father said: ‘No weapon formed against us will prosper.’ It didn’t.

  • Be a risk taker

Dad taught me that to achieve success in life, I might have to take risks. We all face small, medium, large risks, sometimes daily. Dad used to tell me: ‘go for it,’ having assessed the risk. The biggest risk my father took was when he left the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation and a good job – he was Director News at the station, leaving all our possessions behind and travelling to England to join Radio Worldwide, the radio arm of the Worldwide Evangelization Crusade. This mission was founded by the all-England cricketer, C.T. Studd who was one of the ‘Cambridge Seven,’ and went to China to serve under one of God’s Generals, Hudson Taylor. It was a wonderful time, living by faith.

  • Don’t worry be happy

Dad always quoted his favorite scripture: ‘Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again rejoice.’ (Philippians Chapter 4 verse 4) He was a man who had a joyful countenance. He spread a little happiness and kindness into people’s lives, through the eyes of compassion.

  • Laughter is the Best Medicine

Researchers at the University of Maryland in the United States linked laughter to the healthy function of blood vessels – something that can lower your chance of a heart attack. Laughter also boosts heart rate and the production of certain antibodies, which strengthens our immune system. So, laughter is good for you and my father made people laugh. He was a joker and together with his brother Ernest, they were famous for cracking jokes, everywhere. Stuart Wavell, a BBC consultant who worked with the Ceylon Broadcasting Corporation in the 1970s included a photograph of my father in his training manual for the CBC, ‘The Art of Radio.’ The picture shows Dad leading a ‘brainstorming session,’ in the boardroom of the radio station. There was a huge smile on his face – I could tell he was cracking a joke and the entire SLBC boardroom were in fits of laughter!

My father was very much a compassionate leader working at Radio Ceylon.

Ivan Corea