Helping People: Character Known but Hardly Practiced

 Ok… I’m getting on a train going to London Paddington from Chippenham (England). In front of me are several elderly folks with heavy luggage.  I offer to step aside as the train stops and help them get their luggage on the train.  They are grateful.  I enjoy helping and am clearly the beneficiary of giving a little kindness.

Later, I’m on Kensington High Street in London.  I find a Starbucks and am about to enter when a group of four people appear.  I open the door and let them in before me. They look at me with suspicion, like, “Why doesn’t this guy want to order his coffee before us?  He’s not in that much of a hurry!?  Why?!” I notice shock and concern is expressed by the four.

As you might have been able to figure out, I travel a lot and notice that it’s mostly an “every person for him/herself” situation on all transportation activity. So often I’ve seen people struggling with heavy bags off luggage racks or the overhead bins… sometimes to their physical detriment.  Therefore, I have started a personal campaign to help someone with a bag every trip I’m on. I do not want to patronize anyone but when I see people struggling, I try and lend a hand.

Opening doors?  Letting people in line? Being kind. Being generous of spirit without wanting anything in return? These are actions completely in our control. And we get the benefit and goodwill without asking for it. Maybe that’s why Liberty Mutual has built an entire advertising platform around responsibility and doing the right thing.

In an office environment, it could mean helping a person struggling with a project, bringing an extra glass of water for a colleague at a meeting, opening doors for people going from one corridor to another, and ultimately just being present and aware of your teammates and surroundings. Where you go provides opportunities to practice Character every day.

with Character,


One Comment
  1. Paul says:

    (42 Sales Exec, California) This reminds me of a travel situation I’ll never forget. I was just landing on a transit plane in Italy and as I got up from my seat I asked the young lady who was stitting next to me if that carry-on overhead was her’s, she didn’t speak any english, but motioned ‘yes’, so I brought it down for her. As we were walking out of the plane, her behind me, I reallized we had to go down a stairs from the plane to a bus that takes us to the next terminal. I had with me a regular carry-on, a briefcase, and another bag. As I went down the stairs I was clearly slowing down the people behind me. That same woman insisted to carry my briefcase down the stairs and then all the way to the bus, I kept telling her thanks but I can handle it, I could tell she wasn’t going to take no for an answer. Later in the airport, the escalator wasn’t working, so we all had to go up a regular stairs with our carry-ons, again she was right there and took my briefcase up the stairs so we can get to the next terminal on time for the connecting flight. Just prior to that previous flight a friend was warning me about Italy’s airport, too many pickpocketers and luggage theft, and here I was surprised at this woman’s eagerness to help. I could have done the carrying myself, though slower.

    Another time I was at the luggage claim and kept waiting for my luggage for a while, and was going to keep waiting until one man noticed I was waiting and said “you know, there are some overweight bags there to the side, maybe yours is one of them” I had never thought to check, I had no idea they pull those off the plane to a different area, and I didn’t know my bag was considered overweight because it cleared the check-in normally.

    Situations like that gave me a strong reminder not to make general assumptions about people and their passive habits. Not to overgeneralize people. It was something I needed to be reminded of.

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