I just finished “Flip the Script” by Oren Klaff, a very rich guy who runs around the world making huge million dollar deals. Why would a safety professional read this? The subtitle pulled me in. “Getting People to think Your Idea is Their Idea” is something that many safety people need to do every day in order to be successful in their jobs. I love to combine ideas from other fields and apply them to safety and this book has some good advice for pitching ideas to the people we work with either occasionally or every day.
One of the ideas I am most intrigued by is the concept of a “flash role.” In the book, the author talks about the scene from My Cousin Vinny where a star witness spouts off a paragraph of deep knowledge about cars, very quickly and matter of factly, in order to gain acceptance as an automotive expert. Click here to see the video.
Would this work for safety pros out in the field? I tend to think it would (as long as you really do know what you are talking about). Especially female or younger safety pros may have to show they know their stuff before being taken seriously. If you want others to go along with your ideas (even for something as simple as a “request” to wear fall protection), getting them to accept you as an expert is very important. If you are a safety pro who came into OHS from the field, this is probably something you already love to do. Workers may mistakenly underestimate you not realizing you have been in their shoes and know the lingo, the short-cuts, and the work-arounds. A quick flash role will likely elevate your status.
Have you tried something similar to a flash role? If so, what was the topic where you needed to show your expertise quickly and matter-of-factly? How did you do it? (I’ll try to collect some examples and post them here) but feel free to share your “flash roles” in the comments.
One of my favorite sayings, and the title of one of my favorite books, is “Die Empty” (written by Todd Henry). (I have even had a bracelet made with this saying to remind me of my desire to “die empty” when it’s my time). This post isn’t about dying but about this quote from the book – “Your Legacy is Built One Decision at a Time.” These decisions, which determine our legacy, are made by safety professionals everyday.
You walk by a guy teetering on the top of a metal ladder, in front of a closed door, holding a drill and oh wait – it’s starting to rain – Do you say something? Or do you walk on by?
You are riding a bus or train with co-workers and someone starts to berate someone in your group of the opposite sex or of a different religion or political viewpoint than that of the rest of the group. Do you step in or step away?
You are the passenger in an Uber or Lyft and the driver is texting while driving while trying to follow the GPS and get through traffic. Do you say something or keep quiet?
In some of these situations only you will know what decision you made and in others, your actions will be very public. You may think no one notices but every decision will form your legacy. Will people remember you as a safety professional who truly cares about others or someone who “practices” safety only when it’s convenient?
What decisions will you make today that will be your legacy?
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.