Remembering the Work of So Many “Average” Heroes in Boston

Today is a solemn day of remembrance and tribute.

Our U.S. headquarters is located near Boston, and several of our employees are regular runners of the Boston Marathon. Last year was a brutal, heart-wrenching blow to all of us, but of course, no more so than to those who lost loved ones or survived the horrific events one year ago today.

In honor of those who remain Boston Strong, I’d like to focus on the average people.

First responders saved many lives

There are several stories (here’s one) about the first responders who rushed in to help the injured when the bombs went off. Yes, trained first responders – police, firefighters, EMTs – rushed into the fray, but the vast majority of first responders were untrained, uninitiated into the aftermath of violence, unprepared, unready – yet there in moment.

These first responders – the average person at the finish line to cheer on friends or family or just enjoy the spirit of the day – should have run away from the explosions. Certainly, many did (and that’s OK).

But these people – these true heroes – raced towards the chaos, towards potential danger to themselves to help others in dire need. Here’s how one person described it:

[Matt] Smith still can’t explain why he ran toward the smoke and screaming. Before he did, he told his friends to run as fast as they could away from the scene. ‘I just knew something was wrong. I had never been in the military or any first-responder-type job, but I just knew I had to help,’ Smith said.”

Average people, exceptional caring

These average people saved lives. Of all the injured who made it to a hospital, every single one survived. If medical tents for runners hadn’t been on site and staffed with trained medical personnel, this outcome would have been far less likely.

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Yet if average, scared yet concerned, people hadn’t run into the mess and followed their instinct to help, comfort and encourage, many of those injured wouldn’t have even made it to the medical tents, much less to the hospital.

Sure, I could draw several analogies to the greatness of the “average” people in our workplaces, but that’s not appropriate today. Instead, today, reflect for a moment on the average people around you at work, at home, in your community.

Look at them in a different light. Consider them as more than “average.” After all, they could save your life someday.

You can find more from Derek Irvine on his Recognize This! blog.

Derek Irvine is one of the world’s foremost experts on employee recognition and engagement, helping business leaders set a higher vision and ambition for their company culture. As the Vice President of Client Strategy and Consulting at Globoforce, Derek helps clients — including some of world’s most admired companies such as Proctor and Gamble, Intuit, KPMG, and Thomson Reuters — leverage recognition strategies and best practices to better manage company culture, elevate employee engagement, increase retention, and improve the bottom line. He's also a renowned speaker and co-author of Winning with a Culture of Recognition. Contact him at irvine@globoforce.com.

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