6 Ways to “Be The One” in 2011

Avalanche Rescue Dog saves buried personThe shriek shatters your daydream, causing your fists to clench. You spin, seeking the sound’s source. There, just 100 yards away, a helpless person is in danger! You’ll help, right? You’ll at least GET help, right? Of course you will … Right?

Apparently, it’s not that simple. The answer shouldn’t depend on how many other people are around, but it just may. There is a well-known psychology theory called the “Bystander Effect” that asserts:

The greater the number of people present, the LESS LIKELY they are to help someone in distress.

If the theory is true, it could mean that our self-preservation instincts discourage us from taking action when we see another in need. If this is indeed the case, the best way to ensure we’ll step up under pressure is to decide, in advance, that service is WHO we are and WHAT we do. I’ve had some help making that decision in 2010.

This year, I was privileged to find the #BeTheOne hashtag on Twitter, founded by Mark Sturgell and Bridget Haymond. Their efforts have inspired me to Be The One who makes a difference wherever I happen to be in 2011.

We are all stronger in some ways and weaker in others. We will each have opportunities in 2011 to use our strengths to make a difference. So I wanted to share the six things I plan to say to myself in 2011, in the hope that one or more will offer meaning to you:

  1. Be The One who lends a hand to those who’ve lost the strength to stand.
  2. Be The One whose words provide the fuel to reach the other side.
  3. Be The One who takes the time to show another how they shine.
  4. When many shudder, cloaked with doubt, Be The One to venture out.
  5. When others give in to their fear, Be The One who perseveres.
  6. When worries weigh the weary down, Be The One who sticks around.

I would be eager to know what you hope to become in the coming year. Any thoughts you can share about your goals would be welcome, appreciated and encouraging.

14 Responses to “6 Ways to “Be The One” in 2011”

  1. I don’t have problems with helping someone in distress – that’s my nature. I do have trouble with helping someone who isn’t quite in distress but could probably need some help if it is offered. The second one, the person can probably get along without help just not as easily. I, however, am more introverted and I also don’t like to cause myself too much attention. I prefer the behind the scenes type work, unless of course someone is in distress.

    Actually, this year I want to make myself stronger so I can be of more use in the future. If I am not solid and stable, then I may put not only myself at risk but also let down those I may try to help (or worse put them at risk too). Part of this is expanding past what’s within my means (like what I spoke of above) and then also define my limitations.

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Ann. It is true that the best long-term strategy for serving others is to make sure you properly “feed and care for” the servant (you).

      There are many cases where I could make things worse by “helping”, but not by “getting help.” For example, I’m not a trained medical professional, but I can call 911. The Bystander Effect, shockingly, suggests many don’t even bother to call for help. That stuns me.

      I believe that each of us, you and I and everyone, have specific gifts we can offer, provided we discover what they are. The behind the scenes work matters JUST as much!

      I really appreciate your input! Have an excellent new year!


  2. Thanks so much, Tristan, for offering these wonderful insights to help us round out this year and look with hope to the new year. Your blog posts this year were one of the brighter spots of 2010 for me, because they reminded me of the greatest challenge facing all of us: to move ourselves to that place where energy, focus, and hard work intersect with compassion and empathy.

    I wish you a joyful holiday, and much happiness in 2011. And I wish all of us a vision of a better 2011 and a better world.


    • I can’t overstate how much I’ve appreciated your encouragement and thoughts these past several months, Lori.

      Have a splendid holiday. I look forward to more conversation in 2011.


  3. These are terrific goals Tristan! You are always an encourager who speaks from your heart and that is why I know you will go the extra mile and BeTheOne for 2011 and beyond.

    My goals for 2011 are here on the Be The One Blog: http://bit.ly/fZ17Kn

    I’m so thankful that twitter has caused our paths to cross.

    Merry Christmas and best wishes to you!

  4. Tristan,

    This is wonderful and exactly what Bridget and I had in mind when we started the #BeTheOne movement on Twitter. Of course, you have been one of our favorite contributors all along, so it is no surprise that you “get it” so well, let alone represent the ideal of #BeTheOne with grace and great aplomb.

    It is so easy for each of us to go about our routines and play our roles, day to day, when opportunities to make a difference surround us all the time. In every moment, through every habit and action of the day, in every role we fulfill, we have a choice – to be a bystander or to Be The One.

    You should add this to the Be The One site at http://betheoneblog.wordpress.com/2010/12/13/declare-your-top-3-goals-for-2011/#comments

    • Thank you, Mark,

      I appreciate the hashtag, blog and twitter chat: All three serve to remind me and so many what really matters. I love the notion of being a “go-giver” who “pays it forward.”

      Great stuff and I look forward to more.

      Have an excellent holiday!


  5. Tristan, I especially like the one that says be the one whose words fuel to reach the other side. So little of this happens in our world, especially when egos take over. While I want to grow in each of these, I see this as a way to understand and listen to those who think differently than me.

    Thanks for your vision for 2011 and for sharing it.

    • Thank you, Robyn,

      Delighted to connect with you here as well and I appreciate your thoughts. And I agree, hope is a powerful fuel, when voiced into uncertainty.

      Looking forward to learning with you and from you in the year ahead.


  6. My goals are best expressed by paraphrasing Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If”:

    I want to be the one who keeps my head when all about me are losing theirs.

    I want to be the one who who trusts myself when all others doubt me, but make allowance for their doubting too.

    I want to be the one who can talk with crowds and keep my virtue, or walk with kings without losing the common touch.

    If I can do those things, I’ll be OK. And I’ll make a difference to the people around me.

  7. Tristan,

    Your presence on Twitter has been very inspirational to me. I admire you as a fellow technical writer and communicator, but more importantly as a person and leader. It’s great to know that you’re traveling along the wonderful Web 2.0+ journey, making a difference in the small ways, which are cumulatively big ways.

    Happy Holidays and Thanks for Sharing So Much of Your Wisdom and Self,


    • I am grateful for you kind words, Peg.

      Our profession has many obstacles to clear as we claim the opportunities that await us.

      I’m bolstered knowing there are like-minded partners like you, seeing what’s possible and taking action!

      Have a Merry Christmas!


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