A Moment of Despair and Isolation
A Moment of Despair and Isolation
Do you ever feel alone?
As I return to the US from our Winning Well tour in southeast Asia, it is challenging, and perhaps inadvisable, to summarize or reduce the vast array of experiences to a single emotion, thought, or post. However, there is one story that lingers with me.
It’s when I felt the most alone.
One evening ten of us decided to take an ATV tour through parts of rural Cambodia. We set out in groups of four – three of us along with one guide from the company. I was the last vehicle in the last group.
Perhaps twenty minutes into our ride, Alex, the woman riding in front of me, over-corrected a turn and her ATV flipped. In slow motion I watched it roll, tossing her like a rag doll, until it came to a stop, right side up – on top of her.
I was the only one who saw the accident. The other two riders in our group, Karin and our guide, could not hear me honking or shouting over the noise of their engines.
As they receded into the distance, I looked at Alex pinned under her ATV, unsure how badly she was injured and I felt – alone.
She desperately needed help and all she had was me. I don’t speak the language, was in the countryside without a clue how to get back to town, and only had a light first aid kit (think cuts, scrapes, and sprains). I don’t think I’ll ever forget that sensation: “It’s just me. Well, let’s get to it.”
I lifted the ATV off of her, began evaluating her injuries, and tried to keep her conscious (a losing effort). Thankfully, there were no compound fractures and her neck and spine seemed to be good, but she had a nasty wound on her chin that was bleeding profusely.
Probably in response to my honking and shouting, several local people had come out to see what was happening. I remember one man in particular. He had deeply tanned leathery skin and only two teeth remained in his mouth. None of them spoke English, but they conferred among themselves and sent someone off to call for help.
By this time, our guide and Karin, realizing we weren’t behind them, had turned around and come back. After a quick conference, the guide realized that our injured friend needed to go to the hospital. He got on his ATV. Karin and the villagers lifted the now unconscious Alex onto the ATV and seated her directly behind our guide. The guide told Karin to get on the ATV behind the two of them.
While the man with two teeth wrapped Karin’s arms around our friend and made her hold on to the front of the guide, another local woman clarified what was happening for Karin: “You go hospital.”
And with that, the guide took off, driving his ATV cross-country over fields with our injured friend sandwiched between him and Karin. I was left to watch over my vehicle, Karin’s, and the one that had crashed. I gathered up Karin’s purse and our friend’s cell phone, messaged our group to let them know what had happened, and waited.
Meanwhile, Karin held onto our unconscious friend as they transferred to a tuk-tuk and sped to the hospital. In our discussions afterward, Karin shared how, during that drive to the hospital, as she tried to revive and keep our friend conscious, a similar sense of being alone – what should I do? Am I enough in this situation?
She felt alone. I had felt alone.
I wasn’t. Not really. In moments, there were villagers. A few moments more and there was my partner and sweetheart, ready to do what I could not (namely, fit as the third person on the back of an ATV) and then advocate for her with the doctors at the hospital.
As I’ve reflected on that evening, I am touched at the way people came together to help one person.
With all the craziness that the world throws at you, much less the responsibilities you have as a leader, it’s easy to feel alone. But there are so many moments of human kindness and decency every day. Look for them. Contribute to them.
And if you’re feeling alone, know that you are enough.
Do what you can, get to it, and please: honk the horn and call for help.
(Our friend did not escape unscathed: she had a broken jaw that required surgery, multiple stitches on her chin, and deep gouges to hands, arms, and elbows. Given the severity of the accident, I’m grateful it wasn’t worse.)
Be well and I’ll see you next week!
5 Don’t Miss Posts from the Winning Well International Symposium
- Get Things Done, Build Confidence In Your Team, and Eat That Frog (Brian Tracy)
- 6 Ways to Transform a Divisive Culture Into a Winning Well Culture (Chery Gegelman)
- The Performance Appraisal That Really Matters (Marshall Goldsmith)
- One Sentence Engagement (Kevin Kruse)
- 5 Ways Leaders Unintentionally Sabotage the Team and One Way Forward (Alli Polin)
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