Monday, May 18, 2015

Ripples – Making a lasting difference

I recently viewed a YouTube video on the consequences of how our small, personal acts of kindness can have far reaching effects on others with whom we have interacted. This message was presented as a metaphor about a person dropping a pebble into a pond and then watching the ceaseless ripples go out with unknown impact into the unknown surroundings.

This brought to mind a number of people who have dropped pebbles into my pond and how I was affected way beyond what was originally intended by the person dropping the pebble.   Early on was a boss I worked for while attending graduate school.  I was at a decision point to scrap a long planned graduation vacation with my wife or go directly into the workforce and make money.  I calculated all the financial ramifications and going to work looked very beneficial.  John, my boss at the time, then talked to me about a metaphorical high paying career of endlessly cracking eggs while sitting in a corner.  He contrasted this high paying, mind numbing job with seeking out what would deliver a lesser paying career in a field which would bring personal satisfaction and not just more money.  The vacation my wife and I took brought a personal experience and bonding that the extra money could never have delivered.  The lesson in the trade off of more money verses a more satisfying personal  life experience for the two of us and for our children has replayed (rippled) itself numerous times over the years.

Years later Dr. Dan Petersen dropped his pebbles in my pond about the importance of culture and accountabilities in developing excellent safety performance for an organization.  About the same time, other people in my life dropped pebbles in my pond related to creative problem solving, Continuous Improvement team excellence and action item matrices. These ripples combined resulted in the development of a safety culture excellence process that Caterpillar Inc. now uses worldwide which has helped to eliminate tens of thousands of injuries.

As a result of these people going out of their way to cause caring ripples in my life, I have had numerous chances to drop pebbles on how to deliver safety culture performance excellence with safety personnel and associated executives across our planet.  Not surprisingly, the desire to help other people, as influential people helped me, has allowed my many acquaintances to benefit.  In turn they have delivered on their personal desire to spread ripples of learning, way beyond just safety related issues, to many other people.   

There are numerous other people who have sent both pleasurable and painful ripples into my life.  However, the 500 word limit on a blog article forces me to get to the point of this epistle; What pebbles can you drop into the huge pond of life that will ripple out over time to improve the lives of the masses of known, unknown and unseen others?

The Doc

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