5 Simple Rules for Living and Leading

by | Nov 13, 2017

Take the time to help

Don’t just be a passerby; use these five rules to stop and help when people are in need.

As I drove slowly down the street through the neighborhood on my way home, I saw a woman who I assumed was walking her dog up ahead. She stood motionless, silent, and looked like she was waiting. As I neared she walked away, no dog in tow. 

When I was even with where she had just left, I saw a teenage boy laying on the sidewalk next to his bike, cradling his arm. As I contemplated stopping, I still inched down the road. In my rearview mirror I saw a woman on her bike, who I had passed seconds earlier, turn towards him and jump off. 

Thank goodness she stopped to help, I thought. 

But she didn’t. 

I saw her open the gate next to where he was lying, and walk into the front yard of her destination. 

The crossroad was up ahead. The kid would be fine. He probably had a phone. There were people who lived there who would surely help him. People were on their way to work. He had to live nearby; we live in a small town. 

At the crossroad, instead of continuing forward, deeper into the network of streets that would take me home,  I turned around my car. 



Listen to the people you are trying to help

I pulled up next to him. He was no longer in the fetal position but was now sitting up, red-faced, fighting tears. 

“Are you ok?”

“Yeah, I’m fine,” he replied. 

“Can I call someone for you?”

“No, thanks. I’m good.”

“It’s no problem. Can I help you?”

“No, I’m good. Thanks.”

Are you the type of person who would help? Use our FREE Career Reflection Worksheets to give your thoughts some structure.

In my rear view mirror, I watched him as I approached the next crossroad and got ready to turn around once more. By the time I passed him again, he was standing up and walking his bike. There was also a couple who had come out of their home across the street that looked at me as I passed and looked at the teenager too. 

Once home, I still hoped that someone else checked in with him too. It could be that the couple standing on the street called after him. Perhaps he did have a phone on him and called his parents. Maybe he eventually got on his bike again and went to school, arriving late and getting a detention. I’ll never know. The only thing I do know for sure is that I cared enough to stop.

5 Rules for Living and Leading

1) Stop when you see someone who’s hurting or needs help. Don’t assume someone else will. 

The biker, the dog walker, the kids in a nearby yard, the couple across the street… There were plenty of people who saw this kid in pain. I told myself that one of the five other people I saw in the span of 30 seconds would do what in my gut I knew I should do. Honor your gut and values – both are cornerstones of your personal leadership

Free Podcast Download: How to Cultivate Empathy in the Workplace 

2) Ask if you can help.

Don’t be the person who notices and keeps walking (or driving). If we all noticed and offered our hand to someone who was down, we’d all rise. It’s not invading someone’s privacy to ask how you can help. It’s letting them know that you’re there if they need you. 

3) Respect them if told, “no” and do what you can when you get a “yes.”

I wanted to help this boy, but he told me he didn’t need my help. He wanted to get up on his own. The Mom in me surreptitiously made sure he could stand and didn’t collapse because his leg was broken. It was all I could do. No matter how much I wanted to make things better for him, he wanted to make things better for himself. 

4) Remember the Golden Rule.

In case you don’t know, it’s “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Would I want someone to check in on me, or my child? Yes and yes. Don’t forget to put out into the world what you want to receive.

5) Don’t just drive away. 

Most of the time, we’re not in our cars when we approach someone to help. Our offers are not made in passing. We know the people on our teams, in our families and our lives. Ask again. Follow up. Continue to turn around at those crossroads. 

Make sure your company is one which encourages people to help each other by using our Career and Leadership Assessments, Coaching and Workshops.


Originally posted in Pulse LinkedIn 

Alli Polin Subscriber
Alli Polin, CPCC, ACC, is a former senior executive with deep experience in leadership, change management, and organization development. Now a writer, coach, and speaker, she is driven to help people create a full life and achieve professional success. She has an award-winning blog, Break the Frame, writing on the intersection of life and leadership.
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