Active Bystander

Sunday I wrote about my upcoming commencement speech and asked you to think about the stories from your past that influenced who you are today. Here’s one my client, Laura, shared with me yesterday.

Her grandma was a baby with colic. On a cross country train trip she was crying non-stop.

You can probably relate. Think long flight sitting next to a shrieking baby. You might exchange glances with other passengers, roll your eyes, as if to say, “Of course. Isn’t it just our luck to have this baby on our flight?”

On this train ride a soldier walked up to Laura’s great grandma and offered her a few coins wrapped in a handkerchief to use as a rattle. Miraculously, this small toy soothed the baby.

She stopped crying.

To this day, Laura still has the coins that were passed down to her.

Too often we assume we are helpless bystanders, unable to influence or help those around us. That soldier could have rolled his eyes and looked away.

At work, with family, walking down the street, or on a train or a plane, you are only a helpless bystander when you choose to be. Or you can choose to act.


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