One Person, One Action, Supersize Impact

One Person, One Action, Supersize Impact

Not too long ago, I was watching the news and was introduced to Debbie Dills. Do you know who that is? She is the North Carolina woman who thought she spotted a killer on the run, the center of a major manhunt following the massacre of nine people in a Charleston, SC church. She was driving home and happened to notice this man who looked so familiar and resembled the criminal who had eluded police.


What would you have done if that were you and you were running late to get home or attend some family member’s sporting event or ballet recital? I have a hunch many of us might scoff at our paranoia and push it out of our mind, using our own hectic schedule as an excuse not to pursue.


Not Debbie Dills. She followed the man, carefully, cautiously…and called 9-1-1 to report her suspicions.


Now it’s possible she could have been wrong. And if she were, then she would have completely wasted her time, not to mention potentially put an innocent person into an uncomfortable situation to justify their whereabouts and defend themselves unnecessarily. But… if she were right, she just might help families get the closure they needed and protect many more innocent lives from possible harm at the hands of an already proven dangerous man. So perhaps she simply did it because… well, it was the right thing to do. And in her case, it turned out…she was spot on! And the police soon nabbed a very dangerous criminal. All because of one woman’s decision to take action.


But not all of us can be motivated by that reason alone, something being the right thing to do. I’m sad even writing this because I know what a true statement that is.


I’ll admit. I probably would not have followed him, no matter how certain I was that he was the culprit. At least not if I were running behind in my schedule. And I’m embarrassed to admit that but I am being honest.


Sometimes taking a single action can be inconvenient or uncomfortable but it can change lives. This is just one example. Now, granted not every situation may be of such a serious consequence as this but it made me think about why we do things for others, particularly if there is nothing to be gained for ourselves.


Let me share with you another recent example that I did benefit from personally.


I had been struggling to reach a group responsible for the restoration and cleaning efforts for a particular public art piece that I feature in my upcoming book OUR SEASONS. I tried every resource and strategy I could come up with to get their assistance on a matter regarding the piece, a current high-resolution photo that I was not able to get during my recent visit to the city.


Finally, I decided to reach out to a man who had written many articles about the piece and seemed truly committed to educating his community about the area’s artistic offerings. I will be introducing the gentleman later this fall after the book releases with a special Q&A conversation with him. But I was truly taken aback when he offered to go on his lunch break to the gardens where this art piece was currently on display for limited hours during its restoration efforts.


He was going to take time out of his own schedule to take photos… for me. A total stranger with nothing to really gain from the trip beyond getting to see how the restoration was going as someone who had followed the art work’s path. But that was it. Here was this generous guy offering to do something that would completely benefit me for merely a photo credit.


This is the photo, and I cannot wait to tell you more about this sculpture and the man who helped me secure a peek of her in her most recently refurbished splendor. (Yes, she is missing her head and then some, your eyes don’t deceive you but her story is one that is truly fascinating and she has inspired me to tell one of my stories inside the book. More on that in a future blog!)



So why did he do it? I wondered. And then I realized after getting to talk to him later, aside from simply being a nice guy, he was passionate about art in the truest sense and I suppose offered to do it because this was after all, public art and to be before the masses, not hidden away somewhere. So perhaps he too did it not because it benefited him or because it was convenient or easy, but because it too was the right thing to do.


I often try to build partnerships and suggest collaborations with other writers and artists that can benefit both parties similarly but rarely do I ever go out of my way to do something for someone else just because it helps them. Maybe I haven’t felt like one person can have much impact. But I will tell you that Debbie Dills has made me rethink that.


So what might you do…just because? One action, one step, that could have multiple rays of impact and not for any personal gain or fame or wealth attached but because… it could help so many others? Donate blood? Sign up to be an organ donor? Volunteer to take part at a local event or organization? Maybe just do something for another colleague in your profession because it might help a peer move forward with a project?


Or maybe you’ll stumble upon your own pursuit worth taking regardless of how late you are for the soccer match or cookout. Keep your eyes open… and your heart and mind open, as well.  You never know what or who might be right in front of you in that line of traffic. ~ Chris

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *