I’d heard the story before, how Bethany Hegedus attended a talk by Arun Gandhi at the Unity Church in Manhattan, one month after 911. Mr. Gandhi, grandson of the Mahatma, recounted a story from his childhood when he was unable to contain his anger on the soccer field. His grandfather assured him that anger was a valid emotion, and that you could use anger for good. He said anger was like electricity. You could flip a switch and turn it to light. Bethany turned to the friend sitting next to her and said, “That would make a great children’s book.”
Thirteen years later, she was seated on a podium next to Arun Gandhi at The Texas Book Festival, presenting their picture book, Grandfather Gandhi.
“I didn’t approach him the night I heard him speak,” she said. “I wasn’t ready.” Gandhi had published several serious nonfiction books and was a correspondent for the Washington Post. “I had no publications to yet, no agent. I wasn’t a Gandhi scholar.” But after 911, Bethany wanted to put something good into the world, to bring positive change.
“If you have a big ask to make,” she told the audience, “Go ahead. A ‘no’ won’t kill us, but a ‘yes’ could change our life.”
I thought it was a great message for Creative Mix. It’s hard to make the big ask. So many of us feel unworthy, as Bethany did. In the author’s note at the end of Grandfather Gandhi, she wrote she was able to approach Mr. Gandhi, because she knew the Mahatma would not see her as unworthy. She wasn’t asking to ride the coat tails of the Gandhi name. She had a genuine desire to bring his message “to live as light” into the world. This was a book of her heart.
What’s holding you back from making a big ask? Do you feel unworthy of approaching someone whose name carries cache? Can you imagine the ways your life might transform if you had the courage to see yourself as worthy and fit for the task?