A story hit the news this week in the UK about a woman who noticed a sign on a bicycle rack in her village. The sign was written by Alex, who recently had his bike stolen from the rack. He wrote about how he had saved up to buy that bike for over a year and dreamt of the day he would have one. He had the bike for one week before it was stolen. The letter was intended for the thief with the request that it be returned. Alex closed his letter by saying he would visit the bike rack every day from 6pm with the hope that it would be returned. Rachel Thomas (@halohoney), a local woman who spotted the note felt moved reading it and so disappointed for Alex. She felt her village was “better than this” and wanted to help him. She set up an online portal requesting for donations for Alex. Unbeknown to Alex, she raised the equivalent of AU$1200, and on a cold, dark, wintery evening this week, she went in her woolen scarf and puffer coat, to the bike rack at 6pm to wait for him. After she met him, she explained that she wanted him to know people cared and she gave him the money. Alex was, as you would imagine, overjoyed. He was new to the village from overseas and is reported to have said, “It restored my faith in humanity”. He will buy a replacement bike and has committed to give the extra funds raised to a local bike charity. He is hungry to find ways to pay back his new community with the kindness that he experienced.
Good news story from a bad news story - a story that will hold many more ears than Alex and Rachel’s, the generosity and good will of the people who contributed, the people who read about it in the news – now it has your ears. This simple, courageous, and extraordinary act has engaged Alex in his community in such a profound way, potentially for life. The ripple effects continue.
In the model of engagement that my clients and I work on, there is a lot to do. We must inspire, support, and track our own and others’ growth. That is where real sustainable engagement comes from. But, if you want an immediate shift in engagement, you can do that easily by following the tremendous leadership qualities demonstrated so beautifully by Rachel.
1) Tune in - Keep your eyes, ears, and mind open to hearing about ways to help. Sometimes the way people are asking is more subtle than in Alex’s note. Your colleagues will have indirect and direct ways of communicating their needs. Stay curious and creative by really immersing yourself in their world, with their tasks, blocks and goals.
2) Put time in - Can you invest your time in aiding the solution? We often think of ways to buy something for someone to make them feel appreciated. However, it is often the time that people invest in the action which is appreciated, not the cost. Half a day of yours invested on finding a solution for someone else’s problem might be wisely spent if you will receive a statement like “you have restored my faith in humanity”. Don’t rush this, savour the act of giving time.
3) Be in - This is not a formula. It is a way of viewing the responsibility of impact that we have on each other. You matter. Your behaviour matters. Make it count by making it multiply just like Rachel and Alex’s story that has gone viral.
So in summary, how to instantly help your colleagues - tune in, put time in, and be in.
For the longer version of what is required to have sustainably engaged colleagues, please get in touch.
Residents club together for 'Dear bike thief' letter writer (2017, January 27). Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-berkshire-38748126