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Dr. Mani Sivasubramaniam on “Following your heart”

It’s apt that Rajesh invited me to contribute to this book in the weeks following the passing of Steve Jobs, because he’s a person whose powerful words and actions have influenced my life in strange, unexpected ways.

If you asked which quote of Steve Jobs’ most impacted me, I’d say this one: “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

That’s because those were the words that finally pushed me off the fence. For years until then, I had been hesitant.

On one side was a growing discontent with a system that was broken, not delivering on promise and potential, slowly dragging me down and thwarting the enthusiasm and excitement that had sustained me through nearly 11 years of medical school.

But on the other side was a scary, uncertain future. An unconventional career path. One ridden with pitfalls, risks and possible failure.

I was 37 years old – and nervous, even scared.

And then I chanced upon the incredible Commencement Speech that the Apple co-founder delivered at Stanford University. The words and the message were transformational.

No longer did I feel fear and anxiety about the future. I felt confidence, purpose and meaning in what I was about to do.

It has been eight years since I threw everything behind my non-profit work to help children born with congenital heart defects.

So, what made this difference?

The urge to “follow your heart”.

I’d be lying if I said everything was sunshine and roses after making that decision. There were plenty of hurdles – and there still are. During one scary period of 3 months last year, everything almost came crashing down when I lost my donor sources, and even my online payment processing capabilities, while our non-profit was unapproved for a State funded subsidy.

What made the difference in clawing my way back to fix things was the passion I felt for the work I’m involved in – and the fact that I had “burned my ships” and left myself with no alternative but to succeed.

Things have turned around since those dark days. The Dr. Mani Children Heart Foundation has sponsored life-saving heart surgery for 80 children with congenital heart disease, with many more to follow.

The final chapter in this story has not been written. Not by a long mile.

But seizing the opportunity to follow my heart has easily been the best decision in my life thus far.

Steve Jobs got that right, too, when he said:
“…have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

My Notes:

Dr. Mani shows the power of passion in full brilliance.

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