Safety advice can be exasperating

February 1, 2004 By    

My friends and acquaintances are always big with the free advice. When I took my career to the next level I was told, “Don’t quit your day job,” “You oughta be conventional,” and “You oughta play it safe.”

It felt like anti-encouragement.

Guests at my primitive cabin in the woods are always sharing their visions of reforming it into a modern condo of convenience. I’m sure it’s simplicity envy.

I ought do this. I ought do that. There are times I feel like my real name is “You oughta.” It kind of sounds like the name of the joker in a set of U.S . military/Iraqi playing cards.

Most of us hate to be told what to do, especially when the task supports an indisputable truth. What may be advisable, prudent and desirable feels like duty and obligation. At some point it sounds a lot like a nagging.

I try to tune it out, but after a while I get frustrated. My personal saying is “I have one nerve left and you are on it.” My wife simply threatens to “summon her flying monkeys.”

How do you express exasperation?

With regard to career choices or lifestyle conveniences, we can trust our vision and, after consideration, ignore unsolicited advice. When it comes to propane safety, we cannot ignore the duty and obligation to maintain safety standards.

Regardless of frustrations, we “oughta” be safe.

How do we fight the emotional defense mechanism that shuts us down when our continual vigilance is so vitally important? The only way to handle fear is to give it a name. Give it a try. Describe that emotion that frequently has you frustrated.

Are you stressed out and spread too thin? Time management makes us establish goals and priorities with deadlines. You’ll be less stressed when crossing goals and tasks off your list. Never let your external circumstances dictate your progress.

Are you held hostage by passive control? Employees can sabotage any safety effort by passively controlling the process. How often you need to hear a repeated promise to fulfill a required, but unaccomplished task is a strong indication that management is being held hostage.

According to one branch manager, “They have been trained on what to do and I tell them what to do, but they just won’t do it. Old habits die hard.”

Deep down he knows what he oughta do. All of the excuses in the world will not justify a preventable accident or incident.

I say preventable because, in the here and now, you have control. You have a choice to act from alternatives based upon awareness. After an incident, awareness is called discovery and alternatives are few and far between. It’s too late for action.

My frequently free advice remains the same: The time to act is now.

So give your frustrations names and call off those flying monkeys. Slay those dragons and resolve all issues that stand between you and safe growth.

For all the exasperation it creates, you oughta give it some thought.

Until next time, be safe.

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