I recently read “212 The Extra Degree : Extraordinary Results Begin With One Small Change” by Sam Parker and Mac Anderson. (It’s a small, short book you can easily read on a bus or train ride to work). The premise of this book is that the difference of just one degree – 211F to to 212F – can make a huge difference. The back cover states:
At 211 degrees, water is hot. At 212 degrees, it boils. And with boiling water, comes steam. And steam can power a locomotive.
It’s a good idea.
The idea of just doing a tiny bit more can make huge differences. Applying this and the authors’ examples to our lives as safety professionals could have huge rewards. Consider adding an hour a week (12 minutes a workday) to studying a topic that particularly interests you. At the end of the year you will have added an equivalent of a full week of dedicated study to that area. When volunteering your time, if you gave 15 minutes more per week, that’s about another full day and a half of service you are providing to an organization that likely really needs it. If you are a runner/jogger, going an extra .5 mile everyday would mean you ran 183 more miles in a year – that’s the distance between New York and Baltimore and more than the horizontal distance across all of Ireland. If you got into the office 30 minutes earlier than you already do, that’s 2.5 extra hours of time per week you could use to work on your career, your side hustle, your professional development, your book – whatever. Think about it. If someone came to you and said you could leave work 2.5 hours early every Friday, what could you get done with that newly found time?
In my role as Vice-Chair for the American Society of Safety Engineers Foundation, I always wonder why some safety professionals donate and some do not. If every ASSE member just gave a little more (that one extra degree), that would mean $37,000 more dollars for scholarships, professional development grants for our peers and funding for research – and this could all happen if members gave ONE extra dollar, even if their current giving is zero.
I think it’s hard for us to see how seemingly insignificant actions, such as giving a dollar here or there, can add up. If everyone did a little extra, whether it be in volunteering, studying, exercising or donating to good causes, the benefits would be remarkable.
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.
I am a fan of Abe Books. If you aren’t familiar with it, it can be a great alternative to Amazon, especially if you are looking for something older and don’t care if it’s brand new. I have found you can find everything there and I have bought some old first aid and safety books from the 20’s to use in presentations and as gifts.
Abe Books published a list of some of their most unusual books which I am currently fascinated with. Who would have known there would be entire books on the History of Concrete Roofing Tiles ? or Favorite Flies? or Stray Shopping Carts? Check out the books highlighted here and if you have some time, search around and I bet you’ll find some safety books you just can’t live without.