Affectionately known as "America's #1 Success Coach," Jack Canfield is the originator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and a leading authority in the areas of self-esteem, achievement motivation, and peak performance. [www.jackcanfield.com]
Arianna Huffington is the co-founder and Editor in Chief of the Huffington Post and the author of twelve books. [www.huffingtonpost.com]
Seth Godin is a prominent author, blogger and speaker. [www.squidoo.com/linchpin]
Krishna Kaur is the founder of YOGA for Youth, a program that takes yoga, meditation, and stimulating discussions on the philosophy of yoga to urban youth. [www.yogaforyouth.org]
Norman Lear has enjoyed a long career in television and film. He is also a political and social activist and philanthropist. [www.normanlear.com]
Leilani Münter is a professional race car driver and an environmental activist who uses her voice in the number one spectator sport in America as a catalyst for change. [www.leilanimunter.com]
By going undercover to meet slaves and slaveholders, Kevin Bales exposed modern slavery's penetration into the global economy. He co-founded Free the Slaves, which has helped to liberate thousands of slaves. [www.freetheslaves.net]
Sophie Chiche, lifebyme.com founder and curator, enjoys asking deep questions and living a life of meaning. Today she's launching Shape House, an urban sweat lodge, a place to melt away fears and fat. [www.shapehousela.com]
Entrepreneur and writer Mastin Kipp founded TheDailyLove.com, which merges pop culture with inspiration, and co-founded The Love Yourself Company, an apparel company that has started a global self-esteem movement. [www.TheDailyLove.com]
Liz Phair is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. [www.lizphair.com]
Archbishop Desmond Tutu is Chairman of The Elders, a group of world leaders who address some of the world's most pressing problems. He works energetically for human-rights and in his ministry. [www.tutu.org]
Zainab Salbi is the founder and CEO of Women for Women International, a group dedicated to helping women survivors of war rebuild their lives. [www.womenforwomen.org]
Despite his physical challenges, Sean Stephenson has taken a stand for a quality of life that has inspired millions of people around the world. He's a professional speaker, psychotherapist, and author. [www.timetostand.com]
Kia Miller teaches Yoga at Yoga Works in Los Angeles, leads teacher trainings, and runs retreats and workshops on meditation, chakras, pranayam, and mantras, and other practices. [www.kiamiller.com]
Simon Mainwaring is an ex-Nike/Wieden creative, former Worldwide Creative Director at Motorola/Ogilvy, branding/advertising writer, author/speaker/blogger, Australian, idea geek. [www.simonmainwaring.com]
Shannon Bindler is a style editor, life coach, and the co-founder of Get Up Girl, an empowerment company that inspires women to shine. [www.getupgirl.com]
Grammy-nominated art director/designer/photographer Mathieu Bitton has designed over 450 CDs and movie posters. He's a renowned collector of and authority on black films and their soundtracks. [www.candytangerine.com]
Opus Reps founder and agent-producer Jorge Perez travels the world producing photo shoots with great photographers and celebrities. He's also very involved with Meals on Wheels in Los Angeles. www.opusreps.com
My world changed on April 27, 2009, the day my twin boys were born four months early. After a picture-perfect pregnancy, my wife inexplicably went into labor at 24 weeks. Every effort was made to stop the contractions but our sons were born by emergency C-section a few hours later. I remember being shoved into the operating room and seeing teams of doctors working on two impossibly tiny babies, each barely over a pound.
I was in such a state of shock that I felt myself lifting up out of my body and looking down from the ceiling. I watched myself spinning down below, looking dazed and confused. I saw my wife being sewn up and the doctors’ frantic attempts to save the lives of our babies. I remember using every ounce of awareness I could summon and uttering the mantra, “Go back, go back, go back, this is your family, these are your sons.” I felt myself falling back into my body and, though I was filled with adrenaline, I began taking in what was happening around me.
Our son Oliver died 12 hours later, creating a hole in our lives that can never be completely filled. But his brother Charlie fought an amazing battle and survived through four months in the neonatal intensive care unit.
My tendency had always been to catastrophize life events. It was part of my dramatic Jewish “shtick,” and I often used my fear-mongering to comedic effect. But I couldn’t do that in this situation. Thanks to Charlie, I learned to live in the moment, to focus on what’s happening RIGHT NOW and not panic about all the scary things that could happen tomorrow, next week, or next year. I had to be there for my son every day as he fought for his life. He almost died many times and had to undergo six surgeries, including three on his brain.
Today, Charlie is thriving. He’s a roly-poly, good-natured, loving baby who lights up any room he enters. Although he’s only two years old, he’s already taught me so much. I feel more present for everyone in my life, including my wife and my 16-year-old daughter.
I don’t know what challenges the future will bring, but whenever I feel that familiar panic setting in, I think back to those terrifying days in the hospital when I had to hold steady and I’m able to pull myself back to the present. This gift may have been born in tragedy, but I’m grateful for it every day.
– Danny Miller
Explore More Meaning
possibility enthusiast. forward mover. creative renegade.
Using her psychology background and experiences in settings as diverse as jails, middle schools, and boardrooms Michelle Welsch founded Project Exponential, a series of curated networking experiences delighting people into personal growth. [www.projectexponential.com]
joy recoverer. conscious coach. relationship aficionado.
Trent Blanchard shares words of encouragement, motivation, and inspiration in corporate America and in high schools around the country via his private coaching practice. He helps remove whatever gets in the way of living a life of JOY. [www.trentblanchard.com]