Acts of Selflessness

Katy sitting down and smiling at camera

Helping others to develop ourselves 

According to the Oxford Dictionary, being selfless means “to be more concerned with the wishes and needs of others than with one’s own“. This can have great benefits, helping us connect with others and understand them better, while squashing our own egos because we are not acting out of a desire to be noticed. Selflessness has been proven to benefit our health, happiness and relationships, and is often reciprocated by those around us. 

However, there are inherent personal dangers in selflessness, including the risk of being taken advantage of, perhaps quashing our assertiveness, or risking burnout at work as others needs are put ahead of our own. 

It’s comforting to think that most of us are able to find a healthy balance: an element of selflessness in our personalities, empathising and caring about the wellbeing and needs of others, while remaining assertive and caring for ourselves when we need to. It feels good to have helped someone: a small gesture like providing the extra money required for a parking meter, carrying a suitcase up some stairs, or perhaps a bigger gesture like coaching someone for an interview or providing bed and board for friends between houses. 

At ICC, we came across a wonderful act of selflessness this week that we think should be celebrated. A runner based locally to us in the Cotswolds has set off on a challenge today running from London to Barcelona. His name is Neil Russell and what makes this journey even more remarkable is that he has Parkinson’s. He sometimes finds it difficult to pick up his feet, risks falling over regularly, and has multiple challenges to overcome. But he has set himself this challenge, running more than 1,000 miles over 5 weeks, “because I still can”. Katy, also based locally, heard about Neil’s plans and despite not knowing him, she offered to help plan the route to ensure he runs on safe, quiet roads. Over months of planning, this has now escalated to Katy committing to cycle next to Neil on every step of his journey, carrying food and drink and providing directions, as well as vital moral support, encouragement and safety cover. She’s voluntarily giving up 5 weeks to support Neil to achieve his goal and she insists that she wants to blend into the background as she is ‘simply’ providing support.

The ultimate example of selflessness and we wish them the very best of luck on their journey! Read more about it here.

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