Walk in your shoes

The Help

When was the last time someone asked you or even considered “what it was like to be you?”

This thought has been in my head since I watched The Help the film based on the book written by Kathryn Stockett.

Set in Mississippi during the 1960s, a southern society girl returns from college determined to become a writer, but turns her friends’ lives – and a small Mississippi town – upside down when she decides to interview the black women who have spent their lives taking care of prominent southern families as part of a secret writing project that breaks society’s rules and puts them all at risk.

Every day I am astounded by the lives that people lead, the number of different people they are caring for and or the difficulties with health issues they are trying to overcome the concerns, hopes and dreams they have for the future it is always inspirational and humbling.

It’s all about courage and taking the opportunity to change: starting with the simple premise just one person deciding to understand what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes.

When I get the opportunity to bring people together to work on global initiatives, it is always amazing that wherever in the world you live at a basic level what people are juggling is the same although the environments may be staggeringly different.

I have very fond memories of a night out in Jakarta with a group of women from Indonesia, Bali, Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Thailand, Poland, Greece and the UK. We as a group represented every religious faith and cultural background you could mention and to begin with the conversation was polite.

As the night went on and we got to know each other barriers came tumbling down as it was clear we all shared the same thoughts, the things that occupied our minds were the same, the way we had to deal with them was different but in a way that we could all understand and take something from. That night changed the relationship I had with those women and dramatically changed the way we worked together resulting in the delivery of change within the project I never thought we would see.

If you are struggling to get an initiative to realise it’s true potential and you think that people are your blocker take some time to walk in their shoes, ask them what it’s like to be them right now, you could change the course of history.

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