The 2AM Principle (Book Review)


The 2AM Principle: Discover the Science of Adventure
by Jon Levy is probably not the kind of book most SHE Professionals would normally pick up since adventure is often equated with risk and risk is something we as safety professionals try to minimize every day. You are probably wondering what someone who promotes adventure, sometimes a bit irresponsibly, could possibly teach safety professionals. In this book, the author explains his formula for an EPIC adventure. While reading it, I thought that some of his ideas could be applied to safety training. While not a scientific book, much of the advice he offers, and the formula for his EPIC adventure, is backed up with research studies which he provides as footnotes so the reader can dig deeper into the theory behind his ideas.

While I think the book overall was written for an audience just like the author, that is 30-something males, there are many interesting points that can be applied to any adventure you want to take – from a family vacation to a night out with professional colleagues at a conference. Being a safety professional, mother of three teens and the daughter of a retired police officer, some of the things he talks about like different ways to sneak into an event, make me cringe. He is clear to point out that the ability to accept the consequences of whatever risky behavior you choose to undertake is key and an acceptable level of risk is going to be different for everyone. This applies to everything from bungee jumping to driving at excessive speeds or eating from food carts in countries with hygiene practices not like your own.


The author’s EPIC Model of adventure includes: E for Establish (adventure), P for Push (boundaries), I for Increase (challenge) and C is for Continue (activity). To apply the EPIC model to safety training and therefore turn training activities into adventures, safety training teams first need to be put in place and teams need to understand the mission of the activity and any constraints. The activity should also push boundaries so that the trainees are slightly out of their comfort zone. You can do this by asking individuals who don’t normally work together to work in teams. The activity should serve to increase their interest by being challenging, surprising, and amusing.  Having an element of fun in training activities is always going to help you to keep the attention of trainees. The author stresses that with these techniques, you need to ensure clarity, establish a time limit and make sure the proposed activity meets the group’s threshold of skill – the same things that are standard when integrating an interactive activity into a safety training class. Continue the success of the adventure, or in our case the success of the training activity, by having an acceptable level of risk and unpredictability in whatever you propose. and always end the activity on a good note.  Finally, end the adventure or activity on a good note.


Even where there seems to be no relevance or connection between a set of ideas or practices, we can often learn something by studying areas seemingly unconnected to safety. The 2AM Principle is an interesting book for safety professionals because it can not only help to add more adventure to your life, but it also provides some interesting ideas for improving safety training even though I’m sure that was probably the furthest thing from the author’s mind when he wrote it.


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