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The Tsunami Heartbreak - DO SOMETHING!

By Winn Claybaugh

As I write this, I happen to be staying at a beautiful condo on the beach in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I planned months ago to escape my busy life and spend the year-end holiday enjoying the sun, the beaches, the relaxation, and the beautiful Mexican people and culture. However, like almost everyone around the planet, I've been deeply saddened and heartbroken over the catastrophic devastation left in Asia by the recent earthquakes and tsunamis.

I experienced a small amount of hope upon hearing that different countries and companies have pledged millions of dollars to the victims. My spirit was lifted by the reports of Doctors Without Borders who are traveling to hard-hit regions to lend their expertise. I was brought to tears when I heard of a rock band donating an amazing amount of money to the cause. I don't know about you, but for me, all of that is still not enough. What's missing? My effort. My involvement.

While witnessing life's tragedies, heartbreaks, discriminations, and injustices, do you sometimes catch yourself saying, ''Someone should do something about that terrible tragedy . . . but not me. I couldn't possibly make a difference''? Although part of me cowardly surrenders to a belief that I am insignificant and powerless to assist in events happening clear across the oceans from my blissful vacation, fortunately, a strong voice inside me believes otherwise. I know that to see myself as small and powerless serves no one. Life's growth is about tiny shifts in thought, perception, belief, and action. It's about realizing that I am the person who can and should do something about the tragedies and injustices of the world.

As a motivational speaker, whenever I ask an audience, ''How many of you believe that knowledge equals power?'' almost every hand goes up. Yes, knowledge can equal power, but only if it's coupled with ACTION.

I've often been accused of Ready, FIRE, aim, rather than Ready, AIM, fire. On the other hand, I know people who Ready, aim, aim, aim, aim, aim . . . and they never fire. They never make a move. Before you turn off another news broadcast giving you updates on the number of casualties, I challenge you to take action now, make a move, and do something toward making a difference. Now that you've acquired knowledge about the devastation and suffering, do something with it.

Perhaps you have the power to raise millions of dollars by employing the efforts of a massive corporation. Or maybe your humble, lovely efforts can produce effective grassroots fundraising endeavors that include bake sales, car washes, or talent shows. Whatever your platform or vehicle for raising your share, it's all good and it all matters.

By way of checking in and ''reporting for service,'' I want to let you know that my network of 43 Paul Mitchell Schools across the U.S. has collectively organized fundraising efforts to do our share. I'm grateful to the many team members who thought to take action before I did and who scheduled cut-a-thons and placed donation canisters in our facilities. To date, the Red Cross has received $18 million in private donations, but they project that this tragedy will cost more than $13 billion. I take that seriously and personally and realize we've got lots of work to do.

I'd like to leave you with one last thought. It's worthwhile to note that the material donations and gifts you offer to the victims of this tragedy not only benefit the receiver. You can be generous and giving out of your own self-interests. Your own spirit and soul need continual nourishing, and you do that by giving of yourself. As Shirley Chisholm, the first African American woman elected to Congress, said, ''Service is the rent you pay for room on this earth.''

Winn Claybaugh, author of Be Nice (Or Else!) with foreword by CNN's Larry King, has worked in the beauty industry since 1983. He is the National Motivational Expert for John Paul Mitchell Systems and the founder of Paul Mitchell The School, with several locations throughout the U.S. Winn has helped thousands of businesses build their brands and create successful working cultures; his clients include Vidal Sassoon, the Irvine Company, Entertainment Tonight, Mattel, For Rent magazine, Structure/Limited Express, and others. In 2004, the North American Hairdressing Awards (NAHA) recognized Winn's outstanding contributions to the hair and beauty industry by naming him to their Hall of Leaders. In its November 1997 ''Super Heroes'' section, American Salon magazine called Winn a ''mover of mountains'' and ''Mr. Fix-it.'' Winn has also served as vice president of the AIDS Relief Fund for Beauty Professionals, and he continues to pursue many fundraising projects. Visit Winn at and sign up for the free monthly Be Nice (Or Else!) Newsletter.

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