A Holiday Choice to Make a Difference

12/30/2010 11:55 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

We have all heard the concept of paying it forward, right? Or that one person can make a difference? I was recently informed this holiday season that James Caan, well-known UK business tycoon, is doing just that and is ditching his lavish 50th birthday celebrations in favor of undertaking aid work in Pakistan.

Now, you are probably thinking, "Great, another wealthy elite giving back story." Granted you may think that and for me it used to be that when I heard about big business folk and charity together, I often critiqued the idea in skepticism. "Who are they to think that they can save the world? They must have a serious Superman complex." But now, I realize, "Who am I to judge how one person chooses to make a difference?" And what is their journey to get to that place? How can one person transform his or her own life to get to the place of even wanting to make a difference?

According to a recent press release, Caan's journey was prompted by his daughter who proposed the idea to fly to Pakistan with his entire family to visit the project he heads to help rebuild the devastated canal side village of Jan Lunda, 100 miles northwest of Islamabad. Together they flew to Pakistan on Christmas day to oversee the progress of the charitable work he is spearheading to rebuild a village that was totally destroyed by floods earlier in the year.

And, check this out, Caan had originally planned a star-studded birthday celebration on Dec. 28 but changed his mind at the last minute. Nicely done, Caan! So parents out there, your kids might have some good ideas. Be sure to listen!

This show of compassion is just one of the subjects of a new documentary currently being filmed, "Mastering the Matrix." The film's director, Harry Massey, also shelved his own Christmas plans to travel with Caan to Pakistan.

The film focuses on individuals who, through their own personal acts of positive transformation, have affected others. The film features interviews with Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu and Virgin business tycoon Sir Richard Branson.

Commenting on both his trip and the film, director Harry Massey, said:

"Although flying out on Christmas day is not ideal, the chance to work with James on this project it is not one that could be missed. Mastering the Matrix is about how a single positive act can have far reaching global affects and James' mission is one example is one that proves the very poignant at this time of year."

"The film weaves together inspiration personal stories profiling sport stars, public figures, scientists, philosophers, Hollywood actors, academics and real-life people. This is a film that I hope will impact people's fundamental outlook on life in an illuminating and positive way."

According to the film's website, the film attempts to "probe the issues of transformational change and how when one person transforms his or her own life, that person can contribute in a positive way to the shaping of the world." It is my hope that this film will discuss the actions the subjects take as a result of their insights. I am eagerly anticipating the new film and will report back when it comes out in September 2011.

For further information on the film, visit