Randy Siegel builds the people who build organizations.

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His work is based upon a proprietary process that facilitates self-discovery to clarify personal perspective, true purpose, and professional image.

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"You have to come, Randy." It was Claire Reid encouraging me to attend our thirty-fifth high school reunion in Atlanta. If it had been anyone but Claire, I would have immediately said no. Some periods in life are best forgotten.

But Claire was a good friend. In fact, she'd been my first girlfriend. (We were seven at the time.) "Okay, Claire, you win. I'll come."

My memories of high school, college, and my early adult years aren't good ones. Looking back, I really didn't like myself. I was horribly insecure and fought to hide it by being critical and judgmental.

When I walked into the party, Claire was the first person I saw. She ran up and threw her arms around me. Within minutes, I was surrounded by a small circle of old friends. It felt great to be with them again. I had forgotten how much they meant to me.

They were excited to see me, too. Maybe I wasn't as awful as I remembered; and even if I was, if they could love me as I was, maybe I could learn to love the old me.

After all, I did the best I could at the time, and wasn't it those experiences that shaped who I am today? Just maybe I could give myself the same compassion I would a dear friend.

Thank you, Claire, for encouraging me to come home again. Through the eyes of my old friends, I'm beginning to see my youth in a new light.

This month, we'll examine The Power of the Hug.

The Power of a Hug

Okay, I admit it: I am an uptight, middle-aged white man. You should see me dance. But I am a lot looser than I used to be, thanks to the former rector of the church my ex-wife and I used to attend when I lived in Atlanta.

Spencer was new to the church, and it was his first Sunday. After the service, Jill and I lined up with the other parishioners at the front door to greet the new rector. When it came to our turn, I smiled and stiffly extended my hand. Spencer ignored it and instead engulfed me in a warm hug. For just a minute, the world was silent and I felt safe and loved. He hugged Jill in the same way.

On the way home, Jill and I talked. We realized that hugs were something that were missing in our lives and pledged to hug more. We did, but it still wasn't enough to sustain the marriage. We divorced four years later.

Some hugs have a way of soothing whatever ails us. I read a BBC report recently about an Indian spiritual leader, Mata Amritanandamayi, who is called affectionately "Amma, the Hugging Saint." Amma means mother.

Amma sits on a slightly elevated seat and people line up to receive her hug. It's been estimated she's doled out more than twenty-six million hugs. So why wait in line for a hug?

Psychologist Dr. Elvidina Adamson-Macedo explains that being hugged can release natural chemicals in the body. "Beta-endorphins are released when you are relaxed, and are a natural opium. A hug can induce that in a person." Even so, Amma's hugs must be super special. What's her secret?

With the aid of a translator, she explains: "Everything in the world has a vibration. Love is a very special, very uplifting vibration. That's what I'm trying to give people. It's like visiting a perfume factory. Consciously or unconsciously you will carry that fragrance around with you."

Amma teaches us an important lesson: it's not the act as much as the emotion behind the act. I wonder: doesn't the same principle apply for most things in life? Intention colors every act, and the most powerful intention is one that is steeped in love.


Copyright Randy Siegel 2007. All rights reserved.