The 10-Year anniversary of 9/11 is a day of sadness and mourning for many of us.
But it's also a day when we saw the best in people a million times over. As a resident of New York City, someone who could see the towers burning from my street, I can say that I never felt as close to my fellow New Yorkers as I did that day and in the months following.
One snide conservative politician said New Yorkers became uncharacteristically 'human' on 9/11. He's wrong. New Yorkers are some of the kindest people I've ever known.
Today, I live in a small town, where farmers stop their pickup trucks to chat, blocking roads in both directions. You can do that in a small town. In fact, small-town people value that kind of friendliness.
In a huge crowded city, where there are always millions of people behind you trying to get home or pick up their kids, kindness is often expressed via efficiency, impatience and hurrying. We're all getting out of the way of our fellow citizens, because passing the time of day can cause traffic jams and delays.
In 2001, I lived on a small, nautical NYC island, called, City Island. The local clam-diggers, or those born on the island, were often descended from generations of sailors, boat builders and sail makers. Most were poor and uneducated, but great people.
The great 9/11 Boatlift, above, is one of the untold stories about the attacks. One radio distress call from the Coast Guard that morning, brought hundreds of boats within minutes - work boats, pleasure boats, ferries - to lower Manhattan and rescued 500,000 people who were trapped behind the destruction. It was the biggest boatlift in history.
They didn't know if they'd be killed in the attacks. They came because they were needed.
My work, as a coach and coach trainer, has always been to bring out the Personal Greatness, also known as the Great Self, in my clients and students. Horrific tragedy elicits Greatness in many, but we don't have to wait for awful moments. We can choose to be Great, daily.
As one Boatlift hero says in the film, above, "I believe somebody has a little hero in them. Got to look in. It's in there. It'll come out when it needs to be."
Choosing to be great may mean to show a little more compassion or a little less criticism. It may mean smiling at a stranger or acknowledging a cashier. It also means serving others when it's inconvenient or dangerous to ourselves. We all do it uniquely. That's why we're different.
There is courage in Greatness.
Another hero says, "I have a theory in life. I never want to say, 'I should have.' If I do it and I fail, I tried. If I do it and I succeed, better for me. I tell my children the same thing, 'Never go through life saying I should have. If you want to do something, you do it."
These men aren't philosophers, coaches or motivational speakers; just regular guys who stepped up.