During this Thanksgiving weekend, what I’m most grateful for is a young man called Luke and the enormous lesson he taught me about the extraordinary power of getting off of yourself and focusing on others.
If you’ve read The Power of Eight, you know the story, but I haven’t brought you up to date. For everyone else, here’s a summary.
On December 8, 2015, Luke, then 14, had broken up with his first proper girlfriend, and in an extravagant gesture of adolescent existential angst, had thrown himself off a 40-foot structure onto hard ground.
Miraculously, Luke survived, but everything in his body was broken.
Besides broken bones everywhere, he’d sustained a brain injury, a punctured right lung, double vision in one eye, nerve damage in his pelvis, a major chest infection, a spinal injury at the bottom of his spine, and urinary tract nerve damage.
He’d gone through several emergency operations and had now also to recover from the trauma of surgery. All this was in addition to his suicidal state of mind. He was fighting for his life but still lacked the will to live.
His stepfather, Michael, contacted me to ask if we could do an intention for him.
I made Luke an Intention of the Week and a focus of my Masterclass Power of Eight groups on Sunday, January 10, while Michael kept a weekly running commentary on Luke’s moment-by-moment progress.
A day after our Sunday intention, his chest infection started clearing up, the nurses stopped the antibiotics and he began to get better sleep. He was more conscious and began asking more questions about his recovery and trying to visualize himself back home and at school.
I asked my audience to send another intention to Luke the following Sunday, and Michael sent through another detailed progress report. Luke’s brain injury had stabilized. His elbow fracture was healing, and he could now use his arm for weight bearing, as he could with his left ankle.
He was able to come off painkillers and antibiotics. The double vision in his left eye had cleared up.
Michael sent though a picture of Luke whizzing around in his wheelchair and then another one of him high-fiving the camera with his three best friends who’d come to visit him.
Everything was going in the right direction, when Michael wrote back with another update that week: Luke was having discomfort and pain, and his mood had crashed. On more than a few occasions he remarked that he didn’t want to live anymore.
We ran a third intention on January 24 and got a note from Michael a few days later. “Luke’s mind and body have responded massively to the healing intention on Sunday 6 p.m. In fact, his mother noticed an incredible improvement in his state of mind at exactly 6 p.m., right at the time of our intention,” he wrote.
In fact, right after the intention, he was eager to go to the physio gym.
The following week, Luke was due to meet with his doctors, and with all this improvement, it was likely he would be given the all clear to start walking.
But the most startling change of all was a positive change in his mood. His mother had noticed a very “confident and positive” Luke. He could see himself back at school after the summer break. He didn’t mind repeating the year.
Had that just been a case of good doctoring, or had we somehow willed Luke to want to live?
Both Michael and his wife, Clair, were convinced that this change in Luke was a direct result of the healing intention.
Luke’s story was amazing, but even more amazing was its effect on some of my Intention Masterclass members who were stuck in their lives. I’d encouraged them to get off of themselves and start intending for Luke.
The rebound effect on the senders
Andy, a member of my Intention Masterclass, was one of those who’d kept up the healing vigil for Luke, and once she started focusing on the other, things started shifting in her life. She was going through a divorce and had two young children, and needed to find a new career, after closing her retail gift store of 18 years.
Andy was talented in marketing and coaching, but over the last six months, none of intentions the group tried were working for her.
Andy then started experimenting with altruism—shifting her intention to Luke and others outside her group, and suddenly she got the breakthrough she needed.
“Two days after that, I got an unexpected offer to do product development and strategy for an online organization involved in human development, a job that would joyfully bring me money doing work I love!” said Andy.
When she realized this might not be an ideal fit, another offer unexpectedly came along to coach for a well-known and highly respected coach “with great integrity and alignment with my values.”
I saw Michael and Clair recently when I spoke at a recent conference, and they showed me a photo of the handsome 18 year old that Luke has become (he’s in middle of the photo with both of them), Michael says that he’s pretty much physically recovered, with a bit of minor residual nerve damage. A metal plate in his back, which was needed to help fuse spine to pelvis, will have to be removed, as back and pelvis appear to have fused naturally. Luke’s at college now, and cycles and has been a regular attendee to the gym.
Luke’s journey and our possible role in his healing is incredible, but the true gift is what Luke gave to all of us who participated.
Every so often I connect with Andy, who went on to go through a model divorce, has continued with her successful career and continues to meet with her Power of Eight group.
And every so often I connect with Andy, who went on to go through a model divorce, has continued with her successful career and continues to meet with her Power of Eight group.
As all the evidence shows, something about the desire to do something for someone else with no strings attached or personal benefit has an impact on health, well-being and your life far and above any other factor: diet, social status, even religious belief.
As one recent Harvard study of tens of thousands of people across America showed, money and stuff didn’t do it for people.
The one factor that made for the greatest sense of happiness and satisfaction was both being part of a community and lending a helping hand.
Do yourself a favor. On this Black Friday weekend, don’t buy more clothes, more gadgets – more stuff.
The best and most life-enhancing deal you can take advantage of is a simple one: get off of yourself and do something for someone else – preferably in a small group.