Leaders: Take a Risk and Help Someone Else

Helping Others

March is always an exciting month in my life. It’s the month that more than 300 former Vietnam POWs who came home in the last two groups at the end of the war. 

This year is the 39th anniversary of our release from the communist cells in Hanoi

Words can’t describe the joy of returning to the “land of the free” after that experience. 

Appreciating Freedom

Freedom has a special meaning for those of us who have lost it and lived under the thumb of tyranny.  Looking back, I can see the treasure in those trials and how day-by-day over those five years, four months and two weeks, I grew into a stronger person.

Resilience in Today’s Culture

Almost anyone who goes through difficulties grows in resilience.

And this is a key lesson from our experience.

We had to bounce back emotionally and physically many times.  Fortunately, the drive to survive was strong in the POW culture.  Similarly, in our country today, many people are still facing difficult times due to the economic downturn.

Layoffs and lower paying jobs have cut deep into the pocketbooks and the confidence of many of our fellow Americans.  This is the time we need to reach out to our neighbors who are in the battle.

 In the POW camps, we took great risks to reach out to our friends who were in trouble and in need of encouragement and even sustenance.

Taking Great Risks 

In the POW camps, we took great risks to reach out to our friends who were in trouble and in need of encouragement and even sustenance.  When my buddy Jon Reynolds had been tortured and denied food for several days, another mate Bob “Percy” Purcell, sent word through the covert communication system, to “stand by for a piece of bread in the afternoon.”

After the turnkey and some of the guards headed out for lunch, Percy secretly climbed into the attic, maneuvered over Jon’s room, and loosened the light fixture.  Then to Jon’s amazement and encouragement, Percy dropped him a piece of bread through the hole in the ceiling.

That’s the kind of support we all need when we are down and struggling—a friend who is willing to take a risk and reach out of his comfort zone to help out.

Be Brave and Reach Out

We are the land of the free and the home of the brave.  We are incredibly blessed.

And one of the responsibilities of those who are blessed is to be a blessing to others.

Who needs your encouragement today?  How can you reach out and lift their spirits in a difficult time?  Think about it.  It may as easy as an e-mail or phone call. Or it may be a deeper sacrifice of your time, money, or talent. Whatever comes to your mind, take a risk, be brave and do it.  In doing so, you and someone else may gain a little more freedom!


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Leading With Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton

Lee Ellis is Founder & President of Leadership Freedom LLC & FreedomStar Media.
He is a leadership consultant and expert  in teambuilding, executive development, and assessments
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Blog | Book | Facebook | Twitter

His latest book is called Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton.

Image Sources:  media.photobucket.com

One response to “Leaders: Take a Risk and Help Someone Else

  1. Thanks so much Lee. I also want to let you know how wonderful your new book is. I read it cover to cover and picked up so many best practices I have implemented myself and also shared with clients. I HIGHLY recommend it to everyone.

    All my best,


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