In a TED talk, Mark Bezos shares his first day on-the-job as a volunteer firefighter.
In his town, the only way to get in on the action as a volunteer was to arrive at the scene quickly. On this particular day, he was the second volunteer to arrive– so he had high-hopes that he’d get to help out. The fire captain was chatting with the frantic homeowner. Then he calls over the volunteers to dole out their assignments:
The fire captain tells the first volunteer, “Go inside and save the dog”
Mark was so jealous because this guy was surely going to be the hero by saving this pup.
Then the captain calls him over, “Mark I need you to go into the house, I need you to go upstairs – past the fire and I need you to get this woman a pair of shoes”
...not exactly the heroic act he was looking forward to - but he charged into the house, up the stairs, past the fire, into the bedroom, grabbed the shoes – and saved them.
Two weeks later, the fire department receives a letter from the homeowner expressing her gratitude and highlighting that someone even got her a pair of shoes.
But over the years, Mark’s seen a lot and hammers-home an important lesson on courage:
“Don’t wait to make a difference in somebody’s life. If you have something to give, give it now. Serve food in a soup kitchen. Clean up a neighborhood park. Be a mentor. Not every day is going to offer us a chance to save somebody’s life but every day offers us an opportunity to affect one. So get in the game. Save the shoes.”