Monday, December 19, 2011

The Wooden Rule – Acknowledging those who have made a difference in our lives

Legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden had an interesting rule for his teams. Whenever a person scored, he was to acknowledge the person on the team who had assisted. Once asked by a player, “Coach won’t that take up too much time?” Wooden answered, “I am not asking you to run over and give him a big hug. A nod will do.” We are not “just a bunch of independent operators.” Each person contributes to the success of everyone else.

Think back over your career- who has used their gifts to build up, strengthen and encourage you to be who you are? My list would take up too much type to get included in these short blog articles. However, for a starter I give thanks for:

• Dr. Dan Petersen, who spent three years of his life drilling into me the need to emphasize the realities of workplace culture, and the accountabilities for action and engagement that individuals must exhibit if safety is to be a high enough priority for an organization to really achieve sustainable improvement.
• Dr. Tom Eppes, who forced me to attend a professional speakers class. This, in turn, helped me to effectively reach thousands of people without boring them to death in the process.
• Standard Oil of California, an organization that trained all of their engineers how to write clearly and effectively.
• Tim Crane, my business partner who, even in very difficult times, provided the resources and encouragement to keep developing our unique approach in improving safety cultures worldwide.
• My wife, who continues to support my reaching out to other people across the world, even though this frequently causes us to be separated for extended periods of time.

Who are the people in your past and present that you need to give a nod of appreciation to for your small victories in life and profession?

The Doc

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Elephant Graveyard – What is your retirement plan?


A couple of years back, I had a job assignment that allowed us to go on a safari adventure in Tanzania and Kenya. On one of the outings, we were taken to the elephant graveyard. We had heard of such a place and had lots of questions about why and the like. Our Masai guide explained that elephants have seven sets of teeth that slowly wear out over their age span. As they are wearing down the last set, the older elephants move to an area that has lots of soft grasses that their deteriorating teeth can still chew.

Well, of course this had me thinking about what we would be doing in the retirement phase of our lives, as age deteriorated our abilities. That brought to mind my good friend and safety pioneer Dr. Dan Petersen who, when faced with his personal realities around such things as travel, stress, diet, exercise and the like, made major adjustments which allowed him to enjoy the latter years. More and more, he focused on what he could do, mental activity, rather than what he could not do. His activities went to such things as writing articles, a book and social networking. His choices were not about the next nap, or eating the grass in his limited pasture. They were about appropriate activities that could continue to bring a sense of accomplishment and engagement.

As I consider the decades past and the decades remaining, maybe there are seven seasons of life. Each of these decades seems to have a unique reality and focus. Where and how can you and I be value added, and enjoy the activities and contributions we can still do as we progress toward our eternity?

The Doc

Monday, December 5, 2011

Burning Bridges – Preparing for the next perfect job

In the world in which we currently live, there are ever fewer people who stay in one job for their total career. I sat in on a discussion with the president of a large construction company who was talking to a group of safety professionals about their future. He had been with this company his whole employed life, some 28 years. His comments to the safety staff were about recruiters who were out there procuring needed human resources. Their message was that the work/career world was no longer the same as he had experienced. He could expect that by the time his new recruits approached retirement, they would have worked for about a dozen organizations and been employed in three to five completely different professional capacities.

This translates to a very different kind of résumé, and the need to protect your back trail. As we sever relationships with the last job, the attitude that goes along with the phrase “Take this job and shove it!” is truly burning our bridges behind us. This came into focus when I received a call from a good safety professional whose company downsized him into the world of unemployment. Sure, he could go into a state of bitterness and verbally retaliate, but of what use is this approach?

How many more organizations are there in front of you, intended or not? If you are looking to the future which seems to be in front of us all, you will not be about burning your bridges behind you. Rather, we will learn from our past shortfalls and successes, and look to a better future in which retribution has no part whatsoever.

The Doc

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