The Bystander Effect
I was in Annapolis in Maryland three weeks ago at the start of my book tour.
It was just after 9am.
I’d just crossed the road and was walking down the street.
I was stopped in my tracks by a large noise.
I spun round and saw a person flying through the air. A car had skidded to a halt.
I was less than 30 metres away.
There were two people standing closer than I was.
I immediately had two conflicting reactions.
One was "there are other people there. They can handle this” And besides I’m catching a bus to New York in less than two hours and I still have a list of things to do.
The other was “my goodness some person is hurt. They need help”.
I reasoned with myself for a split second.
I remembered I’d trained as a ships doctor and had more medical knowledge than most.
Of course I had to go and help. There was no other option. It was quite simply the right thing to do. The only thing to do.
I’d attended Hero Round Table as a speaker last year and I’d recalled Ari Kohen (Professor of Political Science at Nebraska University) talking about the Bystander Effect. Where everyone stands around assuming someone else will handle things. And no one at all does anything. There are many such tragic documented cases.
As I got closer, the windscreen was smashed and the man was lying in the middle of the road. Teeth smashed in, blood running down the side of his neck. Clearly not in a good way.
No one was doing anything.
I knelt a foot or so away from the guys head and asked if he could hear me.
I asked several times before he replied.
I reassured him he’d be ok and asked his name.
He told me.
I looked to the guy standing to my left.
You sir in the red jacket, please can you call 911.
I carried on talking to the guy.
He asked if I could call his Dad.
I got the number and asked the red jacket to call his Dad while I continued to talk to him and re-assure him.
Within a few minutes the paramedics arrived and took over.
Did I do anything medical?
I simply reassured him. I can only imagine he’d be absolutely terrified.
That and making sure that the emergency services were being called.
Why do I share this?
In case you are ever in a situation like this, don’t be a bystander.
You don’t need to be medically trained.
I didn’t use any of my training.
I simply reassured the guy and made sure the emergency services were called.
Don’t be the bystander and assume someone else will do this. Evidence abounds that we assume that others will step in and reality shows that so often someone doesn’t.
(Only sharing this now as it's taken me a while to process it and I was reminded of the Hero Round Table training from Matt Langdon as their next event takes place in San Francisco this week).
Here’s the key takeaway
In your business, in life, in everything, don’t assume someone else will do something. Being a leader means being the person to step in.
Amongst all the reviews I’ve been getting for my book, this one made me smile the most.
Trooper voted “Where the Magic Happens” was a woofing good read. And fell asleep on it.
My three week American book tour ended yesterday after a brilliant time both on the East and West coast. Lots of media picked it up with the likes of the New York Post and WGN Morning News in Chicago doing a 6 minute live interview with me as well as lots of podcasts and sailing press.
We’ve consistently been ranked #1 Hot New Amazon release over the past 3 weeks in a variety of categories and lovely reviews have been flowing in.
The final event in San Francisco was at the Book Passage where it was fun to be centre stage and flanked by details of Obama’s new book and a book on the American Cuban underworld.
It’s now gearing up for the UK Launch on May 17th when the Kindle Edition and the Audiobook also get released. You can order it here.
Are you a manager or a leader?
April 18th - Keynote in Bristol, UK
April 19th - Keynote in Northampton, UK
May 3rd - Keynote and Workshop in Kent, UK
May 12th - Keynote in Southampton, UK
June 6th - Keynote - Guildford, UK
June 13-14th - Keynote - Boston, MA
June 21st - Leadership Masterclass in London, UK
June 30th - Guest Speaker, Plymouth
July 12-13th - Keynote Speaker, Malta
August - The next sailing adventure…