Oswald Letter

Step up and make a difference in someone’s life

Nurse with Elderly Womanby Dan Oswald

Early last year, Yesenia Diosdado, just 11 years old, got off her school bus near her home in Lexena, Kansas. As the bus pulled away, Yesenia noticed that a three-car accident had occurred at a busy nearby intersection. Police and emergency workers were on the scene attending to the victims. Yesenia wandered over to join a small crowd of onlookers.

While in the crowd, Yesenia noticed an injured woman trying to communicate with an EMS worker using sign language. The problem was that the paramedic couldn’t understand her. “I heard him ask for an interpreter,” Yesenia said.
What did 11-year-old Yesenia do? She ran over to the paramedic and volunteered to help, of course!

“She said, ‘I sign. Can I help?’” said EMS captain Chris Winger. “I was floored.”

Yesenia was able to tell emergency personnel that the woman’s neck was injured and give them the name of the local hospital she preferred. “I’m proud that I got to do something to help,” said Yesenia.

There’s a great lesson in the actions of this young girl. When you see an opportunity to help someone, don’t hesitate. Instead, step right up. That’s what Yesenia did, and she made a difference in someone’s life.

Every day at work there are countless ways each of us can make a contribution. Too often we let those opportunities slip by. We tell ourselves that our help isn’t wanted or needed. Or we don’t think we are really equipped to make a difference. Or, my favorite, we think someone else will step up instead. Whatever the reasons, we don’t step up the way Yesenia did, and the next thing we know, the opportunity is gone.

Imagine if Yesenia had chosen to idly stand by, believing that the emergency workers didn’t want the help of a child or that someone else in the crowd would do it?

There is so much we can do if we’re just willing to try. Simply asking “Can I help?” is often enough to get the ball rolling. Sure, you might subject yourself to the occasional rejection, but more times than not, your offer of assistance will be met with a positive reply.

Think about the people who are the best to work with. Think about the people you want on your team every time. They’re the people who live to help others. They are constantly asking, “How can I help?” And when they’re not asking, they’re pitching in to help without a word.

The people we find who are most valuable—the ones who inspire us and are a joy to work with—are the ones who are always willing to help others. They’re the first to raise their hands when work needs to be done. They’re the ones who have a servant leader’s heart.

“To command is to serve, nothing more and nothing less.”—Andre Malraux

Part of the reason they’re so willing to jump in and volunteer, regardless of the circumstances, is that they know the joy of helping others. You see, it doesn’t take long to figure out that there is an incredible amount of satisfaction that comes from helping others. Young Yesenia understood this lesson. She knew that by volunteering to help another person, she would be the one who would benefit. She certainly helped the woman in the accident, but she also experienced the joy of helping someone else in need.

So think again about the people you most respect and enjoy at work. I’m willing to bet they’re people who are quick to ask, “How can I help?” Those are the people who make things really work, and they’re the ones who make work fun!

“Your gifts are not about you. Leadership is not about you. Your purpose is not about you. A life of significance is about SERVING those who need your gifts, your leadership, your purpose.”—Kevin Hall