What Can ‘Safety’ Learn From a Rock…..

What Can ‘Safety’ Learn From a Rock…..

I live in Australia, a country inhabited by people from many cultures, a country with a strong indigenous history and a country with a geography that is well summed up by poet Dorothea Mackellar in her poem My Country;

“I love a sunburnt country, A land of sweeping plains, Of ragged mountain ranges, Of droughts and flooding rains. I love her far horizons, I love her jewel-sea, Her beauty and her terror – The wide brown land for me!” (read the full poem here)

Australia is a beautiful land with so much richness and history. We have much to see, to explore and to understand. But if limit our view of the world, and if we were to explore our ‘wide brown land’ by looking at our many wondrous features only as “objects” and one dimensionally by relying only on our sight, we would miss so much.

“When we don’t use all of our senses, as well as our heart and mind to explore and understand our world, we limit our learning, our understanding and most importantly our living. When we take a more holistic view of the world, open our eyes to look at things as more than objects, when we use all of our senses to feel, taste, hear and smell, what we might experience could really enhance our lives.”

I recently had the privilege of visiting Uluru (also known as Ayers Rock), which is right in the heart of Australia. I’d wanted to visit for many years (it was on the bucket list) to see, feel, hear and discover for myself the many wonderful things that I had read and heard about ‘the rock’.

You can read the full article first published HERE

Developing our Inner Introversion

Developing Our Inner Introversion

…..the art of questioning becomes more difficult as status increases. Our culture emphasizes that leaders must be wiser, set direction and articulate values, all of which predisposes them to tell rather than ask”.

Edgar Schein in Humble Inquiry (2013, p.5)

I attended a ‘thinking group’ meeting last week with a new group of people that I hadn’t met before. While I was reflecting on the gathering afterwards, one thing that occurred to me was that among the people that I was with, I was the last to introduce myself. In fact, I didn’t speak at all (aside from a short “Hi, I’m Rob) for the first 15 minutes or so. There were new people to meet and I was interested in ‘their stories’. We had a great chat and I got to know some interesting new people.

Wind the clock back a couple of years however, and given the same setting, I would have been busting at the bit to be the first to speak, to be the center of attention in the meeting and generally being the extroverted and energetic guy I had been known for.

I have observed this often from my peers in risk and safety where being extroverted and energetic is often seen as critical for success. To be described as ‘passionate’, ‘engaging’, and ‘energetic’ seems to be a sign of preeminence. It seems that being an ‘extrovert’ is synonymous with being passionate about, caring for and to be frank, being ‘good’ at safety. But is this right? To be successful in risk and safety do we need to come across as outgoing, passionate and engaging? If this is our style, if our preference is to ‘engage first’ rather than ‘ask and listen’, what does this mean for our relationships with others?

I wonder if there is a need for those of is working in risk and safety to take time out to think about how we go about things? What benefit would come from more listening, inquiring and understanding rather than jumping in with answers, solutions, and instructions?


How I Feel About Risk

How I Feel About Risk

“The earliest studies of risk perception also found that, where as risk and benefit tend to be positively correlated in the world, they are negatively correlated in people’s minds.”

“If their feelings toward an activity are favorable, they are moved toward judging the risks as low and the benefits as high; if their feelings towards it are unfavorable, they tend to judge the opposite – high risk and low benefit.”

Slovic (2010, p.26)

These are the thoughts of Paul Slovic from his 2010 book,The Feeling of Risk.

Readers of this site will be familiar with the proposition that risk is subjective. This of course does not mean that everyone accepts this notion, as I know that there are many in risk and safety that continue to argue that risk is objective. However, there is certainly more discussion about the subjective nature of risk than when I started in the industry over 20 years ago.

When we accept that risk is subjective, that it is connected to feelings and emotions, and that many of our decisions and judgments about risk are not always made in a rational, analytical and logical way, we may be better able to understand and support people to deal with risk.

An experience that I shared with a good friend last week is a good example of ‘how I feel about risk’ can impact on the decisions that I make about it.

To begin this story, I should point out that I’m a car fan; this dates back to my childhood. I love to drive in, and experience, different cars; I find them fun and enjoyable. In particular, I like fast cars. My wife De knows this, so of course a perfect Christmas present for me was a voucher for a one-hour drive in a Lamborghini.

I was on a high leading up to last weekend when I would use the voucher and share the drive with my great mate Macca. We’ve been talking for months now about how fun the drive would be. One might say we were pumped and feeling favorable about the activity.