This post first appeared on Craig Greenfield’s blog on April 18, 2017.
Brian Mullaney was a sterotypical ad man – a New York yuppie in an Armani suit with a gold rolex on his wrist. But when he hooked up with Operation Smile everything changed.
The charity sends volunteer medical teams to places like Gaza, China and Vietnam – performing operations on children with cleft palates. For a child doomed to be a social outcast, these operations are simply life-changing.
Mullaney caught the vision and joined their Board. It changed his life too.
But on a typical medical mission trip to Vietnam, Mullaney and the team were playing soccer with local kids every day in their down time. They got to know a boy with a cleft lip. The team came to call him Soccer Boy.
At the end of their mission trip, the team were driving away in their bus. As they looked back towards the village, they saw Soccer Boy, his lip still unrepaired, chasing after them sadly.
“We were in shock – how could he not have been helped?”
From a business perspective, Mullaney was wrecked by the thought of how many kids were not being reached, “What store turns away 80% of its customers?”
Mullaney helped come up with a new business model for Operation Smile. Rather than raise millions of dollars to fly surgeons and their equipment from the Western world, why not equip local doctors to perform cleft surgery year-round?
Interestingly, the leadership of Operation Smile was not too keen on Mullaney’s brilliant new idea.
So Mullaney left to start his own organization – Smile Train. Mullaney’s new charity went on to help provide more than a million surgeries in nearly 90 countries, with one simple tweak – they equipped local doctors to do the surgery.
I read this article over on Craig Greenfield’s blog, and I had to share it here. It’s spot on, and something that we often miss. We want to be the one that swoop’s in, capes waving in the wind, and save the day. We want to be the superhero.
But, think about the superheroes in your life. The teachers. The behind-the-scenes wizards. The support staff. You can do what you do today, because someone taught you. You do it well, because someone is there to help you.
Those in need aren’t always looking for a hero to do it for them. They may be down right now, but they just need someone to walk beside them for awhile and teach them a better way. They are skilled enough, smart enough, and driven enough to take it from there. Even beyond the there we show them.
None of us can make it on our own, we need each other. But, we don’t need someone to do it for us.
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