It was my favourite part of the Olympics. I still remember it. I remember it like it were yesterday because it was only 26 seconds. 26 seconds! That’s it!
The Russian skier fell.
The Canadian coach brought him a ski.
The Russian skier continued the race.
The Canadian coach exited the course.
And because of it, it became an Olympic viral phenomenon.
Here’s what I loved about that moment:
- Skier falls. Coach runs on the course.
- Skier stops. Coach drops to his knees.
- Skier leaves. Coach exits the course carrying away a small piece of the skier’s sadness.
- Skier will remember that kindness forever. Coach will carry that moment for a lifetime.
There’s really not much to it except um, everything… like…
His thought process…
He fell. Oh no. He needs a ski. Where’s mine? Run. Drop. Unclick. Click. Exit. Breathe. Cheer: GO ANTON GO!!!
His heart process…
Help. Always. Never hesitate. Lend a helping hand. Whenever that opportunity lends itself. Wherever that may be. Whatever it may look like.
His action process…
Go! Drop to your knees! Now get out of the way!
26 seconds, that’s it! And yet, that’s it?
It’s got me thinking about the power of 26 seconds.
- Buy someone’s coffee. 5 seconds.
- Compliment a stranger. 4 seconds.
- Send a text to a friend. 10 seconds.
- Let someone merge in front of you in traffic. 5 seconds.
- Say thank you. 1 second.
- Leave a nice tip. 9 seconds.
There’s a whole lotta kindness one could spread in 26 seconds, but we complicate it. We complicate kindness.
We don’t want to intrude. We don’t want to offend. We don’t want to be rejected, or look silly, or seem awkward, or be embarrassed, so we hesitate. And that ever-so-slight hesitation allows for our thoughts to go crazy, which then kicks them into overdrive and we end up talking ourselves out of something good and something that was pure in motive – we end up not extending kindness. It’s bizarre.
What if that coach had hesitated? What if he had allowed fear to creep in and control his actions?… especially an act that would be displayed on such a big stage. What if he hadn’t rushed out to help? He would have missed a beautiful opportunity to help an Olympic athlete finish his race and he would missed out on an important opportunity to teach the world about kindness amidst stiff competition.
We offer awkwardly.
We timidly approach. We cautiously ask. We hesitate to deliver. It’s like we’re afraid to say or do the wrong thing – which is respectable – but sadly, this causes us to shy away from sincerity and hide behind facade. Why and how did helping others in need become so complicated? Fact: we all need help. Why be awkward about it?
What if that coach rushed up to Anton and then just stood there? What if he looked at Anton as if waiting to be told what to do. Awkward. The poor guy was frazzled enough, he didn’t need dialogue. He didn’t need to be instructing his help on the best way to help him receive help. See how ridiculous that sounds? The coach simply threw himself down to the ground and switched skis. He got his hands dirty and served Anton by putting on – wait for it – a ski. So simple.
We linger for appreciation.
Random acts of kindness are not about us. Period. If they were, they would be called strategic acts of kindness and that’s just all kinds of wrong. There should be absolutely nothing ego stroking about the act of serving. And if that is your motive, then don’t. Just don’t. Helping others is about others. You should never give of your time, your heart, your money or your efforts as a way to get something back. The reward for giving is found in the very act itself. End of story.
What if that coach would have stood there posing? What if he would have turned around, smiled, and waved to the cameras drawing attention to his 26-second act? (I’m sure he received tons of accolades when the video went viral, but I don’t believe that was his motive in performing the act in the first place). All eyes would have stopped looking at Anton – the hard-working Olympian who had slaved away for 4 long, hard years, in the pursuit of his dream – and they would have been distracted by the guy. Why be the guy? Why not be the guy who’s all about the other guy?
Kindness. 26 seconds. That’s it!
The world needs people who will respond.
The world needs people not afraid to get down on their knees and serve.
The world needs people who are willing to give out of genuine love and not need credit for it.
Because we all need help to finish the race we were put on earth to “ski.”
So can we?
Can we do it?
Can we change the way we’ve complicated kindness?