Ideas and inspiration for efficient living.

The power of personal vision

Earlier this month, I posted about the danger of complacency and how to remedy it via legacy work.

I discovered Scott Neeson’s story while thumbing through Reader’s Digest in a waiting room last December. I was very moved by his story, so I am sharing it with you now.

Here is the “About” description from his foundation’s website:

It’s been seven years since Scott Neeson first set foot in Cambodia, and six since he moved to Phnom Penh. He originally came to Cambodia as part of a five-week backpacking trip through Southeast Asia, but found his life changed by the tableau of Steung Meanchey, and the desperate circumstances and unlikely courage of some of the country’s most impoverished children.

After a 26 year-career in the film business, including tenure as president of 20th Century Fox International, where he oversaw the release and marketing of several of the top films of all time – ‘Braveheart,’ ‘Titanic,’ ‘Star Wars’ and ‘X-men’ – Scott left the industry to establish and personally oversee Cambodian Children’s Fund as Executive Director.

What is Steung Meanchey? It’s a massive dump where children gather various recyclables to sell in exchange for a bowl of rice. Many of these children are orphans.

Work conditions are treacherous. Cambodian garbage disposal laws are largely uncontrolled, so it’s not rare to find toxic chemicals, body parts, used syringes and aborted fetuses in the piles of refuse. Garbage truck drivers are careless and an average of 24 children are run over and killed each year.

This is the injustice that Scott Neeson saw on his backpacking trip that forever changed his life and ignited the fire of his personal vision.

He sold all his belongings, moved to Cambodia and begun the Cambodian Children’s Fund. His charity work provides landfill children with food, clothing, housing, education and much more. He gives them hope for what would have been a hopeless future.

So what does he have to say about leaving the jet-set lifestyle, the high income, the prestige all behind?

“There is a contentment now and a fulfillment that I would never get anywhere else. I’m not sure if it’s happiness — I don’t know how you define happiness — but there’s a knowledge now that what I’m doing is right and what I was meant to do.”

Neeson returns a couple of weeks per year to Hollywood to fundraise among the showbiz crowd. After a week, he can’t wait to return to Cambodia. I think we can safely say that he’s found his higher purpose.

What ignites your personal vision?


Contentment is wrong

How’s that for a catchy title?

We all know what the good kind of contentment is: being thankful for what you have, appreciating your current state and resources, being happy and satisfied.

So what about the wrong kind of contentment?

Have you ever been a witness to an injustice, been moved to do something, and then done nothing? You rationalized. “Well, that’s the way life is.” And you went your merry, contented way.

This is complacency. We have all been guilty of it at some point in our life.

Today I want to challenge you to come out of your complacency.

I would like you find something that stirs you to the core and do something about it.

I’m not asking you to donate to every cause that pops up on the news or to every beggar on the street.

I’m asking you to find that ONE thing that you know deep inside that you have to do something about.

I believe that we are not here on earth just for ourselves, we are here to benefit others as well. I believe that each one of us has a stirring in our heart for some injustice in the world and that if we set our mind to it, we can turn that injustice into justice for a few, or even for many.

This is what I call legacy work. I borrow the term from Chris Guillebeau, (I don’t know if he coined it himself). It is, in my opinion, the most essential part of living an efficient life.

My legacy work is orphan care and adoption advocacy. When I was eleven years old, I was deeply moved by a documentary about Chinese orphanages. The black and white images of cribs lined up together, sickly baby girls and overwhelmed nurses never left my mind.

I cannot not do anything to care for orphans and help them find a family.

So what moves you?

Drug addicts? Single mothers? The homeless? Minority groups? World hunger? Human trafficking?

Will you get out of your complacency and do something? What will you do?