helping othersDon’t Let Yesterday Use Too Much of Today – Indian Proverb

Although I’m someone who has a significant presence in life, I don’t want you to think I’ve got it all figured it out. Recently, I was asked why I’m so tough on leaders. I responded that I’ve been there. I was the founder and CEO of a major nonprofit, which I grew to a large organization. Today, I’m the founder and chief executive officer of three social enterprises.

Here’s what I’ve learned in doing my work and in life: there’s a natural disaster happening in someone’s life every day. You may meet someone in your work day and they will smile and give you the energy that gives you the reason to think all is well with them––but that’s far from the case. For better or worse, that’s life. And, professionals know that the job must and will be done and they’ve got an important part to play. So, they put aside whatever they’re suffering and get to work.

Another reason why I give people in general a hard time and expect so much is that Americans have so much. We are so wealthy in money, time, experience and skills compared to so many around the world. However, I’m not discounting the suffering in our country. I’m not saying that people who are dealing with poverty, disease, divorce, death or whatever else are not entitled to feel and experience their pain. Again, there’s a natural disaster happening in people’s lives each and every day. I get it and understand.

But, what I am trying to highlight here is that as a society we try to avoid the “drama.” We even have a wealth of space and boundaries.

That’s not okay.

Sometimes I find there’s general disinterest in understanding the suffering of others in our lives. People don’t want to get their hands dirty, and they’d rather be too busy with their problems than pause for a moment and help someone else carry a load a few feet.

I think in many ways that Americans may be the ones in need. No, I’m not remotely talking about the political landscape. Enough about that! What I am saying is that many of us have beautiful houses, comfortable homes, plenty to eat, nice cars and perhaps some fancy toys. Just because all appearances lead us to think “everything’s great,” be aware that there are people in your life, right now, going through something terrible.

It’s not okay not to take a moment when someone looks to you or pauses when you ask them how they’re doing, to get your hands a little dirty in the “drama.”

We’re on this planet for a finite number of days. If those days are mere hours or strung together to equate to many years, it’s still a limited number of days. That means most of us have an opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life.

Never underestimate what a smile toward a stranger or inviting a colleague to lunch can mean in the moment and the broader context of their lives.

We each have the capacity to make a difference, however large or small, in someone’s life.

Be aware that every day we are making many decisions. By our actions, we make a decision to intercede or ignore a situation of a fellow human being, if we feel that perhaps someone else can deal with it.

Make no mistake; you have power in your life to make a difference and help someone through the natural disaster that’s happening in their lives. It’s your choice whether you will choose to get your hands a little dirty or ignore it.


Author of “Not Your Father’s Charity: Grip & Rip Leadership for Social Impact” (Free Digital Download)

© 2017 Wayne Elsey and Not Your Father’s Charity. All Rights Reserved.