"Mon, Dec 29, 2008 my paper Jet Li: The Power of One
AS HE struggled to keep his four-year-old daughter Jane above the surging water, Jet Li shouted for someone to help his nanny, who was holding his one-year-old daughter, Jada. Like many people across Asia, Li was caught up in the real-life horror of the 2004 tsunami.
The Chinese gongfu movie star had come to the Maldives for a holiday with his wife Nina, two young daughters and nanny.
Li managed to make it back to the hotel and was reunited with his wife, who had stayed in the safety of their room. "When the wave was gone, there was nothing left," Li says.
"The electricity was down, all communications were down but for the hotel's satellite phone. We were told we had water for five days and food for three."
While his family slept, he sat up, reflecting on what had happened. He says: "Up to then, I had spent the first 41 years of my life thinking of Jet Li: Jet Li No. 1.
"But now I thought: However powerful, however famous, in that moment it cannot help you. I thought about my life and what I wanted to do."
Following his ordeal in the Maldives, Li returned home to Hong Kong and swung into action. After the tsunami, Li told his wife, "I have to do something right away." That's how the One Foundation was born, says Li.
On Jan 2, 2005, he announced he would give 500,000 yuan (S$105,788) for the victims of the tsunami and use another 500,000 yuan to start a foundation.
During his free time, he spoke with academics around the world and spent time at philanthropic organisations, such as the Rockefeller Foundation, to learn what makes a successful non-governmental organisation (NGO).
He adds: "I needed to spend time studying. What I learnt is you need transparency." In other words, if people are going to support a charitable organisation, they need to trust that their money will actually reach the people in need.
The Red Cross Jet Li One Foundation was launched in China in April last year. Though it works independently of the Red Cross, the tie-in allows the foundation to operate public fundraising activities in China.
The idea behind One Foundation is deceptively simple: Think big by thinking small. Starting in China, Li has set out to raise one yuan (15 cents) from every person each month. He likens it to one big family helping each other out.
"I believe helping each other starts with the individuals. It is everybody responsibility to give. If everyone gives one yuan every month, it will add up to billions of dollars." "
This is a good story to share. It is about change. Sometimes we change because we realized the need to do so. Like my decision to get serious about healthy lifestyle beginning of this year and shed 13kg in 3.5 months followed by completing the 1st marathon at 51 years old as I felt unfit and unhealthy! Sometimes we change after a near death experience like Jet Li, the famous Hollywood-based kung fu action star did in Dec 2004! Sometimes we changed after witnessing some close friends suffered an untimely death or major disaster! Whatever it is, the ability to maintain the motivation to change is totally within our own control!
Lessons for me are；
1. if we can make a difference and change in a significant and sustainable way, we will be better off. Especially when nothing untoward or tragic happened to us or our loved ones. This is change initiated by us and not forced upon us. It is changed with planned vision, purposes, and all the resources needed to make an impact! This is the best change strategy!;
2. I salute Jet Li for realizing the power of his fame and fortunate and use it to do good for the less fortunate and less privilege. By using his fame especially, it will influence others who were not so sure, who thought they could not make much difference individually a chance to contribute and make positive change and impact lives! This is one of the best gifts anyone can give to his/her fellow human being - a chance to help others and influence life for the better!!;
3. to run a successful and sustainable charitable organization, everyone involved has to be professional about it. Transparency and winning and keeping trust are very important. The same apply to any leaders whom people want to follow and emulate - their actions and behaviors must be transparent and win trust! I also cautioned anyone who started with good intention to guard against being led astray by continued successes in whatever they do. Otherwise, complacency and self-indulgence will ruin all the good work done in the past. Wise and visionary leaders do not allowed ego and narcissism to trip them up! Surround yourself with people who will call a spade a spade and be honest with you always! Encourage them by your behaviors of allowing dissents and diverging views!
Go Jet Li Go! I hope your 'One Yuan per person per month' Vision will come true and your sincerity in doing this charitable act stay true too for a long long time!! Even surviving our existence!