Posts tagged with ‘Robert Wright’

07 jun

When Is It Your Turn to Step Up?

JayFortePersonal accountability and responsibility seems rare today. Some step up and take ownership of their work, lives and the needs of others, but many more don’t. This isn’t a criticism – it is an observation.

So, here are several situations – how would you respond?

- You see an elderly woman walking around a parking lot, looking lost and disoriented.
- A toddler walks over to the front door of the coffee shop and opens it, intending to walk out to a busy street; you see the parent is in the store.
- The girl scouts are selling cookies. The marching band is selling candy. The military is collecting in the street corner for wounded soldiers.
- A homeless man is drinking what is left of a soft drink he found in a cup in the trash.
- A tornado rips through a town making hundreds of people homeless – in the next town.
- A drought creates a food shortage for thousands of people – thousands of miles away from you.
- Your kids run the water constantly while they brush their teeth.
- Your favorite restaurant serves very large portions that are mostly trashed.
- At the airport you watch as a traveler throws a plastic bottle in the rubbish, though the recycle bin is immediately adjacent to it (or far away from it).

Your responses are your choice. For these situations, when do you say something – or do you say anything? When do you do something- or do you do anything?

What if the situations were reversed and you were the victim or the person needing help in these situations? What would you like to have happen?

I do not believe the difficult or bad things in life happen as part of some pre-determined plan or divine retribution. Life just happens – both the good and the bad. The planet goes through its cycles without any specific awareness to where we live, or with any malicious intent – it does what it has always done. Sometimes there are sunny days; others times there are hurricanes, earthquakes and droughts. Sometimes we have positive events; sometimes we have negative events. It is the way of our world.

But regardless of what happens, we are here. It is my belief that we are social creatures to help, guide, learn from and support each other. Sometimes we help; sometimes we need help. The flux of the world teaches us to discover our greater selves – to see the magnitude of the gifts we received (talents, aptitudes and passions) and to activate them in us. If things in our world were always fine, we would never be challenged to develop our greatness – to see our true capabilities. In challenge, we see qualities we did not realize we possess; we access our greatness.

I believe that each of us is unique, and this uniqueness is part of a greater plan. This uniqueness is exhibited in the specific gifts (talents, aptitudes and personality) we received. It is our responsibility is to become acquainted with these gifts to bring them to the world – because there will be some time when the world will you’re your best and mine. To respond we must know our areas of greatness. Not knowing misses an opportunity to make the difference the world may need.

President Woodrow Wilson said, “You are not here to merely make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.” You are here for you and for things greater than you.

When an earthquake strikes, (because it is part of what our Earth does), it may be up to us to respond and help. When a drought impacts another part of the world, something we are great at may be what the victims need. We step in. We help. Because we share this world with others. Because we share our best with others. And maybe what this particular event needs is what we do best. Then it is our turn to step up. Not always, just when what is needed is what we do best. Our turn.

And when life happens to us – we have a hurricane, a fire, or a personal tragedy – because this is part of life – we look to the greatness of others to help us through our tough times. Then it is their turn to step up.

Sometimes it is up to us; some times it is up to others. Sometimes the world is calm, sometimes it is not.

We have the resources to survive – we have them in each other. And trauma and challenge help us learn about them. When each of us knows our inventory of talents and strengths, we can then decide when it is our time to step up to a situation that needs what we do best. We can respond.

Our world is becoming more interconnected and interdependent. Events like global warming, the Middle East conflict, nuclear weapons, diseases and natural disasters have universal impact – we are all affected by these. Robert Wright presents in his book, Non Zero; The Logic of Human Destiny, that when we work together to settle and respond (in an interdependent world), we create “win-win” outcomes. When we disregard, disrespect, refuse to help, or do not understand the needs, challenges and values of others (in an interdependent world), we set ourselves up for a “lose-lose” outcome. We have the ability to achieve “win-win” when we bring our best to the complex world we live in; we settle for “lose-lose” when we don’t commit our best – when we don’t step up.

Consider these four ways to be an active player in a world that needs you to be your best and to step up when it is your turn:

- Know yourself – know what you are good at, what moves you and what are your best areas to support others.

– Stay connected to your world. Your world is larger than you. Know what others need to help them on their journey.

– Commit to action when called on. Have the courage to step up and take responsibility when others need you. Don’t wait to be asked.

– Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need others to do their share. We all need help some time.

We have the collective genius, intellect, energy and passion to help when others are in need. We have the ability to handle complex issues, understand our planet and keep people healthy, safe and valued. This can happen when we are responsible and accountable to know how to contribute our best, and when our best is needed. We must know when and how to step up, and when it is fair to ask it from others.

So back to the situations I offered at the start of this post. What do you choose to do? When is it your turn to step up? And when do you need others to step up for you?

Jay Forte is a motivational speaker and performance consultant. He is the author of Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition, and the on-line resources, Stand Out and Get Hired, and The Hunt for Opportunities Success Manual. He has just completed his new book, Happiness Matters; Know Yourself, Find Your Fit and Transform Your World; chapter downloads will soon be available on his website. He works to connect people to their talents and passions to live fired up! More information at

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Posted by Jay Forte on June 7th, 2010 in Family, Global/Social Change, New Directions, Personal Stories, Relationships, Spirituality | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , , , ,