Engaging Each Day with Action Words

Stand. — Up. Not Just By.

on October 21, 2013

When I was in the 7th grade, I vividly remember a time that I did nothing.

When I stood by  and did and said nothing. When I didn’t engage in action words.

Because I was 13. Because I didn’t know what to do. Because I didn’t have the right words or the right nerve to say those words.

And because I worried so much about what others thought. All the time. Just like every other 13 year old.

I can still remember how she looked at me. I can see her eyes. They weren’t so much pleading for my help.  I think she knew I was in a tough spot, I think she knew that I probably wouldn’t say much. I think that there was a part of her that sympathized, knowing she might just do the same thing.

I remember the look now as one of  … disappointment. I definitely failed her that day. And we both knew it.

I stood by and said nothing while a group of my ‘friends’ teased and excluded her. Again.

Without a doubt she was bullied. Dr. Dan Olweus defines bullying in his book, Bullying at School: What We Know and What We Can Do.  “A person is bullied when he or she is exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more other persons, and he or she has difficulty defending himself or herself.”

Almost 28 years later, I still tell that story.  And every October, I find myself thinking about it and sharing it more.

While everyone is busy wearing pink ribbons in support of Breast Cancer Awareness, October is also Bullying Prevention month.

I once had a parent call me at work, upset that her son’s school was doing nothing for National Bullying Prevention Day. I told her that every day, every month should be about preventing bullying. But I would be happy to remind them to put up another poster in the hallway.

Here’s the thing. Just like wearing pink or purple doesn’t eradicate cancer. Wearing orange or blue doesn’t stop bullying.

Neither does a STOP BULLYING poster on the wall.

We have to do more.

The answer to bullying prevention is simple:

Be nice. Do nice things. Say nice words.

And stand up to those who don’t.

I heard a speaker once talk about positive psychology. He described it brilliantly, reflecting his lifetime of research and writing.

It spoke to me so much that I have made it my mission, my motto, my call to action in work and life.

I will now summarize it all in 35 words:

We are superheroes. We can choose our costumes and capes. If we choose red, we have the power to stop bad things.

If we choose green, we have the power to make good things happen.

I call this Green Cape Work. And it has really started to define so much of what I do.

When it comes to bullying, the majority of us have not been bullied in our lives.

When it comes to bullying, the majority of us have not bullied others.

But the vast majority of us have seen it happen. The vast majority of us have heard what it sounds like. The vast majority of us have stood by like helpless 13 year olds.

This is my Green Cape Work.

When I talk about bullying prevention, this is where I believe the power really is.  It is in the work of making good things happen. It is in the work of making nice things happen.

Encourage.  Compliment. Promote. Notice.


We have to teach this. We have to model this. We have to promote this.

We have to empower each other. We have to report to each other. We have to listen to each other.

We have to pay attention.

Because when we stand up. When we put on the green capes and become a force for good.

We can make good things happen.

We can prevent bullying and promote kindness.

But we have to be brave. We have to get help. We have to tell someone.

And then tell someone again. And again and then tell a different person.

We have to stand up. Not just stand by.

Let’s all, Go. Do that.

Today’s challenge:  What is your Green Cape Work? What good things do you want to make happen?

What do you stand up for? What do you believe in? What moves you, calls you, to action?

Design your superhero cape. Give it a color and write all of the good things on it that you want to make happen.

green cape work

Let’s all, Go. Do that. 


2 responses to “Stand. — Up. Not Just By.

  1. Jan Francis says:

    I’m sharing this time and time again.

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