If Acid Attack survivor, Monica Singh, can endure, you can, too

Monica Singh Before Attack
(Monica Singh Facebook, 2017)

Monica Singh was a beautiful 19-year-old women growing up in India when a horrific event occurred.  Unbeknown to her, acid would be thrown on her face by an obsessed suitor because she would not marry him. Her perpetrators, though, did not know the strength Singh was made of.  Since, what they did to her actually made her even more beautiful and determined than she ever was prior to the attack.

MS 5
(Singh Personal Photo)

I first communicated with Singh after reading about her story on Facebook Link  There she describes herself as a, “Motivational Personality, Speaker, Humanitarian, Acid Attack Survivor, Speaker at UN, Global Youth Champion of UN Women.”  So, I reached out to her through LinkedIn Link and she graciously let me interview her.

Singh shared that it was her family, and in particular her father, Mahendra Singh,  who helped her heal and endure through 46 surgeries, not to leave out her own “will to live.”  In her father’s honor, Singh founded the Mahendra Singh Foundation  Its purpose?  To “help victims of physical and sexual abuse, acid attacks, rape and domestic violence in rebuilding their confidence and strength on their journey to becoming survivors.”

Today, says Singh, “I am currently dedicated to running my foundation.  Through [it] I strive to provide counseling, skills, guidance, and treatments to survivors of gender-based violence.”

“I am also work[ing] as a designer and creative expert for [a] fashion company in midtown Manhattan.”  This after reaching a pinnacle dream come true graduating from the School of Fashion at Parson’s in New York last year Link

(Karerat, 2015)

Additionally, Singh has been been “appointed as Global Youth Champion by UN Women and is also a Spokesperson at United Nations representing Face of Resilience from India – United States of America” United Nations

(Monica Singh, 2017)

In this role Singh, “spread[s] awareness about violence against women and gender-based violence issue[s].”

She has also been created into a comic book superhero.  According to her Facebook page, Singh says, “Here is the #first #sneak peak of my #charactersketch for #priyashakti #comicbooks for #violenceagainstwomen issue. #book your copy. Write us #info@mahendrasinghfoundation.org “

(Monica Singh Facebook, 2017)

“Artist and illustrator, Dan Goldman, sketched my character.  He consulted [with] me for the look and feel of [my] character.”  To find out more about this work, which will help other acid attack survivors, visit  Priyas mirror a comic book that depicts acid attack survivors as superheroes

MS 3
(Singh personal photo)

If all this weren’t enough, Monica positively impacts where ever she goes.  “When young girls see/listen to my story, they get inspired,” she says.  “It gives them motivation to stand [up] for themselves.”

“I have been inspired by different people and different qualities at different points in my life.  My heroes have been my father, my family, the people who do good deeds in their daily lives, fashionistas, people who make a difference, people who are happy with their lives, and also people who strive for bigger things.  There is no dearth of inspiration in this world.”

Singh considers herself a hope-based person.  “I believe … how you perceive, you conceive.  There is nothing in the universe which [isn’t] attract[ed] [to] you.  So, why not attract only good and positive things in life[?]  I start my day with a daily mission; [a] smile on my face and [also] sleep with [a] smile to dream good.”

Some of Singh’s favorite things to do include, “seeing places, meeting new people, experiencing new things.  Pretty much all the things that this world has to offer.”

When asked if she feels beautiful, she positively exclaims, “Absolutely!  And why not?”

In five or ten years, Singh says she hopes to be “living every moment and walking on my path.”

Her favorite quote?  To “leave the world [in] a better place than you found it.”

For anyone experiencing any kind of adversity, Singh suggests, “Education and self-inner power” are ways to endure.   Adding, “Nothing will stop you ever.”

“I survived something gruesome.  I believe that my life has a purpose now.”

“People see there is hope [in my story]!  If I can do it, anyone can.”


If you would like Monica Singh to speak at your university, school, business, etc., click Book Monica


Karerat, R.  (2015, July 29).  Retrieved from https://www.americanbazaaronline.com/2015/07/29/acid-attack-victim-monica-singh-finds-new-life-at-parsons-school-of-design-in-new-york/

Monica Singh. (2017).  Retrieved from https://wordpress.com/post/howtobehopebased.com/3310

You are a spiritual being: Act like one

Visiting the St. George Utah Temple Visitors Center one spring a few years back, while inside the building, I asked an older-looking man, who was in a wheelchair, yet beaming with confidence and enthusiasm,  “Why are you so happy?”

“Why wouldn’t I be happy?!” he said immediately and forcefully and at the top of his lungs, yet smiled,  “I am a son of God!”

You could hear a pin drop.

Whoa,” I thought. And so did my husband, Ryan, and all the others who heard his response.

Yet, I said something like, “That is great.  That is awesome.  Good for you.”

Who is this man?  I wondered.

And is he like this all the time?

Bound to a wheel chair, but happy?

My exchange with him was the answer to prayer I needed that day.  I had a particularly stressful job and was feeling the pressure of it.  Not to mention my pancreas was being checked once more for nodules.

But I couldn’t shake this man’s response out-of-my-head.

What was his daily routine?

What did he ingest to be so happy?

And then I realized it.

He was spiritually nourished.

It was evident.

You could see and feel it in his countenance.

I actually did not want to leave his presence.

There was something just heavenly about him.

And it brought me joy.

Spiritual Nourishment

We cannot survive very long without food or water.

Sometimes we get cranky and irritable when we do.

Even death when completely without.

I believe, though, that these things can happen even when we aren’t spiritually nourished as well.

Truth is, we can’t make it without feeding ourselves spiritually.

But many of us still try to.

And maybe not even intentionally.

You know, we get busy with our to do lists, family, shuttling kids to activities, work, church, civic engagements, sports, social media, hobbies, games, and so-on-and-so-forth.

Yet, we were born spiritual-beings.

Into a human world.

Many have even quoted about it.

Like American businessman and educator, Dr. Stephen R. Covey, and French philosopher and priest, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.

In fact, Teilahard de Chardin believed, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience.  We are spiritual beings having a human experience” (Quote-coyote, n.d. ).

(Quote-coyote, n.d.)

Covey, similarly, found, “We are not human beings on a spiritual journey.  We are spiritual beings on a human journey” (People. Stephen R. Covey, n.d.).

(People. Stephen R. Covey, n.d.)

So if we are spiritual beings, then why do we act human a lot of the time?

You know, where we put worldly things first?

Everything but God.

Because that is what we were born into.

The human world.

Yet, that is not where we came from.

We came from divine.

We were once with our Father in Heaven.

There He had great plans for us.

Knew our potential.

And what we could become.

Then we were born into this world and forgot where we came from and our purpose.

Sometime I ask God, “Why do you want me to do for you?”  and “What is your mission for me?”

The answers lie in the scriptures He supplied for us to navigate this human life.

And in the opportunity to pour out our hearts to him in prayer.

Can’t leave out the trials that humble and teach us to become more like Him.

And to be grateful for them as He is molding and shaping us to become like Him.

They’re the refinement we need even though they sometimes hurt.

Throw service in that mix that helps us to love others and take the focus off ourselves.

Doing these simple steps everyday can help us become spiritual-beings like my friend from the temple visitors center.

Do them until you are asked, “Why are you so happy?”

And you can honestly say, “I am a son (or daughter) of God.  That’s why I’m so happy.”


People. Stephen R. Covey (n.d.).  Retrieved from https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/f6/74/32/f6743283a59f68ad105f980a675498ed.jpg

St. George Temple Visitors Center.  (2011).  Retrieved from http://www.stgeorgetemplevisitorscenter.info/visitorcenter.html

Quote-coyote.  (n.d.).  Retrieved from http://www.quote-coyote.com/album/small/Pierre-Teilhard-de-Chardin-spiritual-quotes.jpg

Visitors Centers.  (2016).  Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/locations/st-george-utah-temple-visitors-center?lang=eng&_r=1

How to be a spirit-of-the-law or hope-based leader

During my doctoral studies, I frequented several ER rooms before it was discovered I had a heart condition.

(Family Photo)

On one of those occasions, my doctoral advisor, Dr. Clifford McClain, found out.

ACTE Vision 2015 New Orleans
(ACTE, 2017)

“I’m on my way,” he texted.

Once there, he said, “I didn’t want my favorite doctoral student to be alone.”

“But I’m your only doctoral student,” I smiled.

“Well, yeah, anyway, I just didn’t want you to be alone.”

Hope-based leaders are servant leaders who do these kinds of things.

They are also known as spirit-of-the law ones’.

In McClain’s class, when a student had an idea that was off topic, he would say, “Okay, okay, that’s good thinking.  Keep at it.”  Whereas a letter-of-the law or fear-based professor would say, “What the H-E double hockey sticks was that?”

Dr. Jonathan Herman, a long island OB-GYN, is, like McClain, a spirit-of-the-law leader.  In fact, one thing he taught me is to use “we.”  For example, when a patient visits his practice and is having a difficult time, after having tested positive for a hereditary breast and ovarian cancer mutation (HBOC), he would say, “We are going to get through this” as though he tested positive for a mutation himself.  On the other hand, a letter-of-the-law or fear-based practitioner would say, “First, you’ll need to have your breasts cut off, then your ovaries cut out” (I’m not making this stuff up.  I’ve spoken around the nation on HBOC since 2008, been in and out of a myriad of doctors offices, and, unfortunately, have heard these horror story comments).

One more spirit-of-the-law leader is Darrin Shamo, former director of direct and online marketing at Zappos.  Shamo told me about a time when Zappos was moving to the old city county building in Las Vegas, while it was being renovated for them to eventually move into.  At this time, some of his staff was being housed in a nearby rental office.  But on the way walking to and from work, from an outdoor parking deck, his employees were being harassed by people on the street.  So, Shamo, wanting to ensure his folks were meeting Abraham Maslow’s second rung of “safety”, from his hierarchy of needs, was able to provide underground parking and lunch delivered to them on-site.

Darrin Shamo.jpg
(E-commerce Brasil, 2013)

Who are these people?

You know some of them.

In fact, you could be one of them.

All I know is that hope-based communication creates hope-based leaders who create hope-based cultures.

Your name is safe with them.

They’re going to listen.

Give you the benefit of the doubt.

Assume the best.

Believe in, support and empower you.

The truth is, becoming a spirit-of-the-law leader is possible.

But first you gotta get rid of those letter-of-the-law idiosyncracies.  Here are just some you might recognize:

  • Entitlement
  • Ego
  • Throwing people under the boss
  • Selfish
  • Setting people up for failure
  • Disloyal to the absent and present
  • Criticizing
  • Taking credit
  • Rigid
  • Unforgiving
  • Disrespectful
  • Negative
  • My way or the highway attitude
  • Bullying
  • Catastrophizing
  • Impatient
  • Having favorites
  • Judging
  • Seeing the glass half-empty

I don’t believe McClain, Herman or Shamo were ever letter-of-the-law or fear-based leaders.

But even if they were, then there is certainly hope for you and I.

To become a spirit-of-the-law or hope-based leader.

Where people want to be around you.

Or work for you.

Or both.

Where people have fun in your culture.

Because they know their name is safe with you.

And they can’t wait to get into work (yup, there are actually cultures like this).

And you care so much about your people that they will bust through a brick wall for you.

Because you believe in, support and empower them.

And listen.

And care and are present.

Even in an ER, or a doctor’s office or in any office.

Whatever it takes.

Do it.

Become it.

And while you do, remember everyone’s your favorite, to use “we” and if you can swing it, provide underground parking and lunch.


ACTE.  (2017).  Region V.  Retrieved from https://www.acteonline.org/regionv/#.WLZf2X88cRY

[E-Commerce Brasil]. (2013, September 12).  Forum e-commerce Brasil.  [Video File].  Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZTKL7WnDLY