How Can I Help?

27 Mar 2024

On the weekend just past I traveled south to the Victorian town of Bright as a first time visitor. I left the town as a massive fan of all Bright has to offer and have scheduled in a return. What took me to the town was the Buffalo Stampede running festival. What specifically appealed about the festival was the offering of the Grand Slam, the opportunity to run over three successive days with a cumulative distance of 72kms and several thousand metres of vertical elevation.

The appeal of the back to back running was the training and build up for the 1400km Run to Remember in December of this year. My goals for December are to run the distance in 26 days and raise $1million for Hands Across the Water while doing so. A stretch goal on both aspects, the running and the fundraising, not sure which right now is more intimidating?

During the three days of running over the weekend, which started with a warm up 10k sprint on the Friday night, a 20k run on the Saturday and then a full marathon on the Sunday, we pass through a variety of water stations which are manned by teams of incredible volunteers. Normally the volunteers are those looking to support the event and have no desire to run themselves or runners who for some reason want to contribute to the success of the event, but running at this event is not right for them at this time.

A couple of the things that stuck with me after visiting plenty of the water stations over the weekend and engaging with many of the volunteers were:

1. The enthusiasm they had for their job;
2. Their desire to help; and
3. Importantly the questions they asked.

The environmental conditions the volunteers found themselves in ranged from a chilly 2 degrees celsius in the morning to 28 degrees during the midday heat, but their demeanour remained upbeat and one of service. But what struck me was the questions they asked:

“What do you need?” & “How can I help?”

I don’t know if it was intentional, part of the volunteer training or a skill honed over time. But the framing of the question cut down the time wasted and cut to the chase. How could they best be of service and what were my immediate needs? Everything that was on offer at each water station was clear to see, my choices were plenty. The amazing volunteers didn’t push what they thought I needed, they just wanted to provide what I needed. For me, on Sunday, during the biggest run, my diet consisted of Bundaberg Ginger Beer and Watermelon. That was what my belly wanted and best tolerated.

In my last book “Leadership Matters” I talk about the power of leaders asking “How can I help?” And perhaps that is why the questions asked on the weekend resonated so much. The two questions of “What do you need?” And “How can I help?” were so empowering and I will be asking them more often.


Learn more about Peter's Run to Remember and how you can support this unique challenge.