I wish I’d been wearing my Superman t-shirt yesterday, because I had the opportunity to really help someone.
We went out to dinner yesterday, because the entire street I live on lost electricity for two hours. (It’s really hard to cook, when you have no power.) We let my son pick where we went, because we figured we’d be out for a few hours, and he picked Chik-Fil-A. Which was fine with us, since the food is good (for fast food) and the restaurants are clean and they have an indoor play area to keep the five-year-old engaged.
While we were eating, a little girl got stuck in the play area. She’d slipped down between the wall and the slide and was stuck, and she was screaming and panicking and her mother was in a bit of a state as well because she couldn’t get her daughter out. So I went in and asked if I could help. Then I pushed the child back along the slide (which curved, meaning there was more space between the wall and the slide as you went further back). She struggled and screamed and cried, and tried to fight me as I did it, but then I lifted her out and handed her to her mother. I felt like a superhero, particularly when I later heard her tell her mother that I “saved her”.
It got me thinking, though. That little girl got trapped because she was trying to push forward, when she could have gotten herself out by just pushing back and then climbing out. And the more she pushed, the harder it got to turn things around. Which is a pretty good metaphor for the way we take on challenges. we come up with a solution that seems to make sense, and then we tackle that solution. And if it doesn’t work, we push harder. And harder. And we keep pushing, convinced that by sheer force of will we’ll make it work. But then we make no progress and begin to believe that the challenge is hopeless, even though there would be a better solution if we could just stop and look at it differently.
Sometimes, though, we can’t see that better solution ourselves. Sometimes it requires someone else stepping in to help us find it. It’s not always easy to accept that help, though. We’re so convinced that we have to do it the way we’re doing it, or that we’re doing it right, that we won’t accept that help when it’s offered. We fight, and scream, and push back, and then suddenly we’re making progress once more.
Situations like this are why accountability partners and supportive family and friends are so important to achieving any goal. They’re there to cheer you on, yes. But they can also be that outside observer. They can help you see a different way to tackle a problem, or to make progress when you’re stalled. So, when they help, be sure to thank them. But, equally important, if someone you love is stalled and stuck, take the time to help them. They might not thank you, not right away, and they might even resent it. But help them – not because you want to be right, not because you think you know better, but because you want them to succeed.
Be someone’s hero. Care.