As a writer, one of the things that I enjoy discussing and sharing are stories. After all, a great story can entertain, inform, and inspire us, and sometimes even shape our understanding of how we can make a real difference in the world around us.
It’s in that vein that I wanted to share a story with you about a volunteer firefighter and what we can learn from it about how leaders can help their employees to feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves, and maybe even that they are a part of something extraordinary.
In addition to his role as one of the senior vice-presidents of a non-profit organization, Mark also serves as the assistant captain for the volunteer fire company in his town. Now while this voluntary role certainly sounds exciting, Mark is the first to admit that for the most part, his role is pretty much to offer any support the professional firefighters might need.
One night, Mark gets the call that there’s a house on fire nearby and he rushes to the scene to offer assistance, expecting to pretty much stand on the sidelines while the firefighters go to work. As it turns out, Mark was one of the first volunteer firefighters on the scene and the firefighters were still working to put out the fire, so there was still plenty to do.
Realizing that he had a chance to put his training to work, Mark looked around for the fire chief to offer his help. He soon spotted the fire chief holding an umbrella for an old lady who was standing barefoot in her pyjamas in the pouring rain – clearly this was the owner of the home the firefighters were working to save.
Just as Mark reached the fire chief, another volunteer firefighter had presented himself to the fire chief asking if there was anything he could do. The fire chief told this volunteer firefighter to go into the burning house to save the homeowner’s dog. When Mark heard this, he became excited thinking how he could now participate in helping to fight a blaze and so, he asked the fire chief what he could do to help.
The fire chief looked at Mark and said, ‘Mark, I need you to go into that house and retrieve this lady a pair of shoes.’
Clearly, this was not what Mark had expected after hearing what the other volunteer firefighter got assigned to do. But he was still happy to be able to lend a hand and to do something other than standing by on the sidelines.
Unfortunately for Mark, any excitement he had for this task soon disappeared because just as he was leaving the house carrying the pair of shoes he got for the homeowner, the other volunteer firefighter came out carrying the old lady’s rescued dog in his arms. Within moments, there was an eruption of cheers and applause as the old lady was reunited with her beloved pet.
Although Mark’s efforts were not met with as much enthusiasm by the onlookers, he still made sure that the old lady was comfortable with the shoes he got for her before he headed off to see how else he could be of help.
Naturally, Mark didn’t give this encounter much thought, that is until a few weeks later when he received a letter from the fire chief. In it, he included a copy of a letter the old lady had written thanking the firefighters for helping to save her home. The old lady also wanted to let them know how grateful she was that in her time of need, one of them had been so thoughtful and attentive as to get her a pair of shoes from her burning home.
Now one of the reasons why I love sharing Mark’s story is because it reminds us of Click here to continue reading »”Are You Inspiring Those You Lead To Be Extraordinary?”