Welcome To 2020… Lets Talk Safety… And Prostate Exams?

Don’t get squeamish yet, I won’t start there

Monday was my first morning gym session after a couple months of sporadic workouts after work. Most of my inconsistency was due to my own lack of motivation but kicked into high gear when my workout partner, Kevin (first mentioned in THIS POST), transitioned to night shift. As a result, both of us went on a bit of a hiatus. That isn’t really that big of a deal for a couple of guys who’ve both lifted for over 20 years. But lack of discipline will catch up to anyone eventually.

Since neither of us are under the illusion that we’re still in our 20’s, we took things easy that morning. Not everyone in the gym is as wise (or old) as us, though. So, as we set up for some light squats I glanced over at the three guys in the rack next to us. They probably weighed 180 lbs combined, yet had their loaded bar with 405 lbs. I watched as the first of them got under the bar and unracked it. Then he staggered backward to a box behind him to risk his life for some box squats. I’m sure I was frowning at him the whole time (or as my wife says, using Resting A$$hole Face). My disapproval turned out to be warranted, though, because when he sat down on the box he COULD NOT stand up again. Nor could he figure out how to get his arms off the bar behind him in order to dump it without dislocating something. The trio hadn’t set their safety bars high enough either, so any attempt to fall forward or backward would have been disastrous.

For a few tense moments, he and his “bros” wrestled it back to the rack just before (I assume) his spine collapsed or he soiled himself. It was scary and cringe-worthy. But… he didn’t die.

Everyone needs an exit strategy

People in gyms are easy to pick on. I typically don’t because I realize very few aspire to be elite athletes (and I’m not a complete d!@#). Good on anyone who pursues better health and wellness. I can’t look down on that. But, I’ve observed that very few enter a gym with a for plan their exit. And, by exit, I don’t mean returning to your car after frolicking on the treadmill for 30 minutes. I mean figuring out what to do when things go wrong before they do. How will you dump that bar that outweighs you three times over? How will you drop the weights that are forcing your shoulder out of it’s socket?

Safety is uncannily similar. We’re often so focused on what has already gone wrong that we’re blinded to the failures of the future. Thus we fail to plan our exit. But that’s where the money is.

What part of your process could create real chaos?

How much of that chaos can you control before it gets out of hand?

The answer may surprise you (and no, you can’t control everything).

How misguided are you?

I’ve told the story of my ill-fated hospital visit in 2016 before (see THIS POST if you missed it), so I won’t rehash all of it now. But the most memorable point of that 36-hour ordeal was laying in the ER bed shortly after being told I would be admitted to the hospital for Atrial Fibrillation (a heart condition). While waiting for my new room, a doctor walked in and asked me if I was ready for my prostate exam. Since I consider the heart and the prostate to be two distinctly different issues, I thought he was joking.


In the years since that event I’ve reflected quite a bit. It occurred to me somewhere along the way (ahem… IMMEDIATELY) that getting a prostate exam for a heart condition was a bit… misguided. I realize I’m not a doctor, but nothing in my WebMD searches has led me to the conclusion that I needed that particular “probe” at that moment in time.

You might not be making the same connection I am, and I fully understand that. I didn’t reach this conclusion through the use of any logic. It simply occurred to me while watching the gym bros that I never want to go to the hospital again and get an unexpected cavity search. So, being twisted as I am, I related all of that back to safety. That got me thinking about all the plans we make (or don’t make).

Reactions only get you so far

In the gym I plot out my activities. There’s a plan for execution, a mental thought process before executing, and a contingency for when things go wrong. Safety should be the same, yet too often we get stuck analyzing incident rates and trying to identify root causes for sprained ankles. Those things deserve some attention, but I would submit to you that your time is better spent planning work.

If we’re good at our jobs it seems to me that good planning, and a clear exit strategy should result in less need to analyze those rates we all seem to love.


My final point is this: Don’t give your safety program a prostate exam (figuratively speaking), when it has a heart issue. Practically speaking all that really means is focus on the real issues that are causing big problems (or have the potential to). Most likely those big problems aren’t bumps and scratches. Take care of those by all means, but look deeper.

What is out on your site that could kill someone today? If you don’t know, find out. Then do something about it.

HOW Matters… Leading Safety Takes, Well… Leaders

Round tables are great, but sometimes the King needs to speak

Not long ago, I sat around an oval table (maybe that was the problem) with a group of people who DID NOT agree. I’m sure most of us will sit around that table at some point. Or have already. It’s part of life.

In those moments someone needs to direct the circle. Not to agreement, but to action. A good leader will recognize those moments of distension and do three critical things: listen, process, then take action. It won’t please everyone in the group, but it also won’t produce a standstill.

The meeting I was sitting in, however, did not transpire like that. Our leader listened and processed. At least he seemed to based on the note taking. But then he opened the floor to further disagreement with a single statement:

“We all want the same thing, but how we get there isn’t important.”

Sooo… Let’s talk about basketball hoops

My family is incredibly short (those who have read my book know just how short I am). Regardless, my son believes that if he tries hard enough, a short person can be an NBA superstar someday. I went down that rabbit-hole when I was a kid and drew a different conclusion, but I’m also not a dream smasher. So, I bought and assembled a driveway hoop for him this weekend. It was his Christmas present. And my Christmas torture…

First off, who ever “designed” that shit needs to go into hiding. I wanted to throat punch everyone who had any involvement in that “easy to install” system. Pictures DO NOT explain how to put things together. Also, it’s not advisable to get your inspiration for designing instructions from IKEA.

I’ll keep the long story short

Here’s the thing: despite the terrible instructions and hours of profanity (my neighbors probably think I kill people in my garage… I don’t… Promise:), I had to assemble, disassemble, and then (correctly) reassemble that hoop three #^@*!$& times. THREE! That might not seem significant, but the little nicks and scrapes on my hands say otherwise.

What does that have to do with how we do things? Glad you asked.

The hoop is one of those adjustable ones that goes from 7-10 feet. As I mentioned before, my family is short. But I’m not a dream smasher. If there’s even a chance my son might become the next Pistol Pete, I want him to pursue it. Soooo, the hoop adjustment needs to work. The problem I ran into was trying to get these two little plastic flappy things (the “instrukshins” called them guards) to line up with a ridged piece of bur-coated metal and pin them all together with a bolt that was too large for any of their pre-drilled holes. The how-to document just said to assemble them with a picture that didn’t clearly identify their order. In my case, that meant a lot of bloody-knuckled trial and error.

I just wonder how much blood I would have saved if, say, the pieces had numbers on them and the instructions said something like: place 1 inside of 2, then wrap 3 around both and secure with the 7″ bolt. The point is incredibly simple. How matters. A lot.

Meanwhile, at the oval table…

Nothing much was ever accomplished at the table when how didn’t matter. We just kept fighting because everyone thought they knew better than the person next to them. The funny thing about it, though, was that only one subject was ever approached in that fashion. Every other area of the business had a plan for how. Operations had a plan, utilities had a plan, maintenance had a plan, but for some reason it didn’t matter how safety was accomplished.

I have seen more than a few organizations struggle with this issue unfortunately. I think (although I can’t say for sure) that managers feel pressured to think they need all the safety answers. Because no good manager wouldn’t know how to do safety, right? Wrong. None of us have all the answers.

But there are quite a few places that have some amazing resources. They’re called safety professionals. If you’re not sure who that is in your organization, go find the weird guy that collects gloves and safety glasses and has a bunch of weird looking climbing gear in his office. Then take the (metaphorical) handcuffs off of him and let him help you plan some work. Preferably before it starts.

Of course, most of you reading this are that weird guy (or girl). If you’re stuck in an organization that doesn’t value your input, get from under your pile of glasses and gloves and go prove your worth. But start with the workers. The people sitting around tables aren’t the ones getting it done anyway.

Fevers and Fall Protection

Is common practice… common sense?

I know, I know. There’s no such thing as common sense. I can already hear the trolls taking a deep breath to strike me down with their intellectual superiority at the mere mention of something so banal. (Pretty sure most of them just had to look up that last word as well)

Well, guess what? I don’t believe in common sense either. Save your breath ye dwellers of bridge underbellies… I’m not here to debate either side of that argument. I’m here to ask higher questions. For example, why is it that commonly known unacceptable risks are still common practice?

That thought has weighed on my mind today as I sit at home with my daughter who was sent home from school with a fever. There are several active construction sites near the school, so I glance at the conditions every time I go. There hasn’t been a day when I haven’t noticed several workers standing on roofs with no protection.

Before I get too far with that, peruse the LinkedIn post from my friend Nathan. It’s the perfect setup for the question:

Who are the lucky ones?

The video in the post above appears to be from another country (as in not the US), but the workers seem to have some sense about safety considering their attire. Or maybe orange reflective clothing was the only thing left at the department store after the winter rush. Who knows? Origin doesn’t really matter though. As I mentioned earlier, I saw the same thing happening today in my town at four separate construction sites. So, it happens. Americans aren’t any more inherently “good” at safety than anyone else from what I can gather. Perhaps those of us who are tempted to think otherwise are just lucky to work for organizations that value and implement better practices….

Or is it the worker who climbs unprotected who is lucky?

However you look at it, the question remains. Why is it so common for people to take unacceptable risks? I’m not going to jump down the rabbit hole (for now) and try to answer that. But I will offer some possibilities and things do need to change.

Maybe we need more education.

Maybe we need better equipment.

Maybe the potential consequences don’t seem real (because they don’t happen to everyone and/or often).

Maybe companies focus more on profit than people.

The answer is undoubtedly multi-faceted. But that fact brings another question.

What are we doing to make it better?

Curious to know your answer to that one. Join the conversation on LinkedIn and use the hashtag #relentlesssafety. Let’s learn from each other.

We’re No (SAFETY) Heroes

But the bigger you are, the bigger the target on your back

When I started writing on this site I had a lot to say. The path to making those statements has become much clearer over time. But not because my ideas were so brilliant and I’m more self-aware than most (as much as I’d like to believe that I don’t think it’s true). My learning has come from the emails, phone calls, and online interactions with the people who read these posts. Almost all of those engagements have been positive… Almost.

There has been, and will likely always be, polarization about any given topic. I admit I’ve been deliberately provocative at times in regard to my views on safety. But I’ve never believed it is mission to convince the rest of the world to agree with my ideas. I’m not nearly responsible enough to wield that kind of power anyway. Seriously, you would not enjoy being my unwitting subjects (not everyone enjoys T. Swift as much as I do).

My goal has always been to start conversations. Not hate-filled internet insult tournaments. Most everyone I come into contact knows that. Some people just want to fight though. That has never been more noticable to me than it has in the last few weeks.

Enter the SJL..

A couple months ago five acquaintances on LinkedIn started chatting together about collaborating on content. I don’t think any of us had any idea if it would even work. Then roughly a month ago we strung together a few clips of us giving our perspective on some common safety questions. The result was pretty amazing. I found myself learning from each of the others more than I could have imagined (we don’t collaborate answers, only the questions).

The conversations these little clips have started have been nothing short of awe-inspiring. Not only have we offered answers, we’ve been given some incredible ones as well. Proof that there is a wealth of information in the safety pro community that can (and should) be shared. I’ve also gained four amazing friends through the process. But that’s not what I’m getting at here.

One of the early comments on our #AskASafetyPro clips made mention (in light-hearted fashion) that we all had great individual content, but we are “like the Justice League of Safety” when we team up. In jest, I changed the name of the ongoing group chat to #SafetyJusticeLeague. It stuck. But we’re no heroes. We’re just like all you average citizens 🙂

The name has been a positive identifier for our group. From what I gather, most people understand it’s not meant to be taken as a self-righteous statement of our superiority. A small minority, though, has used it to scoff. That’s fine. We’re not here to change minds, we’re here to start those conversations I mentioned earlier. Anyone is welcome to join. My hope (and I believe I can speak for the group) is that we all learn something in the process.

Secret identities don’t change the world

As my friend Phil La Duke told me earlier on in this process, the target on your back gets bigger along with your name. Phil has lived that more than most, I imagine. Anyone who shares their true identity with the public is subject to personal attacks and just plain nastiness. It’s a weird world online. I really don’t understand how words someone types on their phone or laptop can elicit such hate. But I’ll keep being myself and offering up my experience in spite of it because the message is what’s important (even if it only helps one person). The post below from Shay Rowbottom is a good reminder of that.

Now we can return to our regularly scheduled program

Next week I’ll be back with my usual snarky humor and obscure observations. This stuff has just been on my mind lately. The last thing I’ll say about it is this. Be nice to people online. You probably don’t know them well. Assumptions, accusations and insults don’t further any conversation.

Do YOU have what you need?

There are plenty out there who don’t

Full Disclosure: this isn’t my dog.

OK, so I’ve started this post four separate times now. One was philosophical, one was analytical, one was statistical, one just sucked. So rather than try to solve the world’s grand problems and offer profound insight I’m going to address this topic with two perspectives: What I need/What my dog needs. Simple enough even I can tackle it.

It’s a bit of a broad topic, but one that has huge implications. So, do your employees have what they need? You can take that question in a thousand different directions… But only if you ask it.

In my observation, many leaders are terrible at asking questions about needs. Maybe they’re scared of the answers, or maybe it’s just a hard thing to address. Like I said, a thousand directions. So let’s look at two.

What do I need?

Lavish praise and adoration… and millions of dollars (you can Venmo that part to me). I joke (only a little), of course, but positive affirmation is always nice. What I actually need, though, is a little deeper. I need fulfillment. Or, in other words I need to feel as though my work has meaning. Since I work in the safety profession, that means I need to know that my work has actually contributed to someone’s safety (if even one). That’s why I have such an aversion to pointless activities done in the name of safety.

Not everyone is motivated like I am though. Some need to make a good living so they can afford nice things for their family. Some may need to work hard with their hands (body) to get that same sense of accomplishment. A little perspective can help, but the best thing you can do as a leader is ask (then actually listen). And that leads me to my dog.

What does my dog need?

Aside from the obvious choices (food/water), my particular dog NEEDS to have her ball thrown. I’ll fully admit that I’m not a huge dog person, but Snickers has grown on me over the years in spite of her needs. To me that’s a funny thought, because growing up I always thought the reason I wasn’t into dogs is that I never had one that liked to play fetch. Now that I have one, I can empirically state that was definitely NOT the reason.

When it comes to fetching, Snickers is the most persistent creature I’ve ever met. If the ball isn’t in her mouth, it’s sitting at someone’s feet as she nudges it with her nose. She’ll then look up at you as if to say, “there’s my ball, I brought it to you, why aren’t you throwing it, it’s right there, pick it up, it’s not hard, do it, it’s a ball, see, it’s the round orange thing with slobber on it, come on…” You get my point.

That dog WILL NOT leave until the ball is thrown. Even if it means she goes and finds someone else to throw it. People do the same thing (and no I’m not comparing us all to dogs… only some). For me, the lesson to learn is that people won’t stick around without getting what they need. That’s as true at home as it is at work.

So, I’ll ask again, do your people have what they need?

I Broke Into My House … Safely

Sometimes it helps to be vertically challenged.

I’ll get to the B&E in a bit. This story popped into my head yesterday as I was conversing with a contact of mine in Ireland. Among other things, he and I were talking about the recent trend around mental-health first aid. I’m not going to get too deep into my thoughts about that topic. For one thing, it terrifies me to think that a safety cop barely qualified to access risk would be given licence to start poking at people’s brains. I do, however, think that mental health is a huge issue. One that should be addressed… by experts. (Safety & Health is too broad, find a specialty)

What he and I did agree on was that safety professionals take on a lot of pressure and stress. He said, and I agree, that his observation of those in our field is that we’re not nearly as guarded as we should be. We care (at least some of us), but we also set ourselves up for extreme loneliness and anxiety.

That’s what reminded me about my house

If you’ve been a reader for a while, you may recall that my wife left me to go be with her parents (on a trip… back in October, relax). For those who’ve been around even longer, you know that I don’t like clutter in my pockets. It’s for that incredibly petty reason that I don’t typically carry my wife’s car key on my key ring.

The day my wife was set to return, we came up with a brilliant plan. I was going to drive her car to work, take it to the airport, and then ask one of my friends to drive me back home at the end of the day. So, that morning, I grabbed her lone car key and rushed out with the kids in tow. We were running late, of course. All of that worked fine until I got home and realized my house keys were locked inside. My only option would be to have my friend drive me back to the airport to get my garage door opener.

I don’t like putting that much on others, so I sat and scratched my head about what to do. The crazy thing is that my friend Jake had just given me back the extra key I had loaned him when he checked up on the cat a few weekends prior. We sat there parked in my driveway for a few minutes until he asked if there were any open windows.

There were… I fixed it though so don’t get any ideas

Jake boosted me over the 6′ security fence that surrounds my back yard and then I let him in. That was the first step. Then we went to the small bathroom window that I remembered leaving open that morning after I had yelled at the dog to stop barking. Jake and I made a nice little step with some bricks the previous owner of my house had left and I stepped up onto it and peered into the bathroom. The floor on the opposite side of the window did not have a convenient brick step.

I considered my options and then squeezed into the opening. Reaching out, I braced against the pony wall that segregates the toilet from the rest of the room. Using that leverage I was able to pull one leg through the window and then sit mostly upright to pull the other through. My concern was falling onto, and breaking the toilet. That didn’t happen though. In the end I was able make it look somewhat gracefull (if I do say so myself).

So how are the two stories related?

The morning of the break in was a stressful one for me. I was going through some personal stuff, I missed my wife, my kids weren’t listening, and on top of all that I had to go to work and be a “safety guy.” If that description doesn’t resonate with you, just recall how you felt the last time your phone rang at 2:13am. Nothing good happens at 2:13am.

In spite of my detailed plans, I made a critical mistake when I grabbed the lone key instead of my ring with the house keys attached. Then I left the house via the garage and closed that same garage with an opener that I would later leave parked at the airport. None of those small details were a conscious choice. They were the result of my operating within a system I had designed without consideration for the diminished state I would be working in that morning.

We’ll all be there at some point, though. It will always serve you well to consider how you’ll act on a bad day. That’s one side of the solution for sure. The other part is guarding yourself as I mentioned at the beginning. At the risk of ruffling a few feathers I’m going to suggest a few brainshifts for you safety professionals:

  • Stop saying your job is to “save lives.” It just isn’t, none of us wear capes. Your job is to educate, learn, and provide tools and programs that will allow people to to do their jobs safely. No one needs the mental anguish that comes along with thinking their “job” is to prevent everything bad that could ever happen from actually happening.
  • Don’t take things personally. You’re going to see all kinds of crazy things if you stick around this profession long enough. Some of them are stupid, some of them are ignorant, a few are even malicious. But people aren’t doing those things to spite you. Many of us could benefit from being a little less self-important. Just spread your message. What people do with it is not your burden to bear (because you can’t control that).
  • Go do something else. Aside from the fact that your friends and family probably don’t want to hear you drone on about OSHA and reflective vests all the time, you need a break too. Being “on” 24/7 is a prescription for anxiety (trust me). Loosen up and go laugh at some irreverent humor. Or eat a whole pie. Maybe go out on a date and have more than one glass of wine while talking about your favorite Netflix show. Let yourself experience some indulgences now and then.
  • Find some friends. Real ones. There are two sides to this issue. You need “safety” friends who you can bounce ideas off of. But you also need “normal” friends who will tell you to shut up and drink a beer.

The bottom line is that you need to take care of you. Miserable safety people are just miserable people. If you have any tips or tricks for keeping yourself sane, please share them. We can all use the help now and then.

Safety Debates Are Pointless: Belief

The internet is easier to get lost in than my wife’s purse…

A few days ago I did some routine blood work. It so happens that my wife works for my doctor. That is both a blessing and a terrible curse, because I have taught her how to be mean and dark like me.

“Your blood came back positive,” I heard her say. Color rushed out of my face as my mind began to race.

“For what?” I asked, hiding my mounting fear.

“Cocaine,” she answered. I waited for her to break back in and tell me she was kidding, but she didn’t.

“HOW? That’s not even… How?” I asked. Finally she burst into laughter.

“I’m getting really good at that. I was convincing wasn’t I?” She chucked. “We didn’t even test for that, dummy. Doc want’s to talk to you about your creatinine levels though. I can squeeze you in at 4:30 today.”

In the end I was scolded for not hydrating adequately and given an otherwise good report. That didn’t stop me from going down the rabbit hole on Web M.D. and convincing myself that I was in moderate renal failure. By the time 4:30 rolled around I was actively talking myself off the ledge of panic by willing myself to “believe” there was nothing wrong with me.

Then enlightenment struck

Call it fatalist, but I suddenly realized that no amount of belief would magically change my test results. The only thing I was doing was raising my blood pressure and giving myself nausea. I’d had a really good lunch, too, so it would have been a shame to loose it.

In that moment it occurred to me that we do the same in the safety profession. Even to the extent that it causes physical stress similar to what I was experiencing. We passionately, vehemently, sometimes even harmfully proclaiming belief in things to the point that people’s perception of us (and the safety profession) becomes negative. In essence, we become radicals rather than resources. I’m sure you can sense where I’m going with this.

All accidents are preventable – no they aren’t – yes they are – no they…

I challenge you to find a safety forum on LinkedIn where that debate doesn’t come up at least 17 times. It’s rampant. There are two camps, they both have what they believe are logical arguments, and they will likely never agree. That’s fine. Ours is a philosophical field by nature. But often we forget that people come before philosophy.

Just consider this one question: If there is just one worker on your site who could never be convinced that “all accidents are preventable,” is that mantra even worth saying to him/her? I wonder how much more progress we could make if we kept our beliefs to ourselves and instead tried to demonstrate them through our actions.

What do you think?

Rat Someone Out For Safety! (Good Stuffs)

Anyone who’s read my content probably thinks they know where this is going.

You’re wrong. To be fair I was too, but it’s a good story anyway. Sooooo, CELL PHONES.

I got a call yesterday from an old friend and former VP of a company I worked for years ago. He told me a story with a twist I wasn’t expecting.

“Jason, I’ve gotta tell you this story,” he began. “I know you’ll appreciate it.”

My friend, Mike, proceeded to tell me about his commute home the prior evening. He described looking into the next lane and noticing a woman in a Prius texting. But not just texting… TEXTING! She was “in it.” Both hands on the phone, eyes on the screen, car driving itself (they do that now… and people think Skynet is just from a movie).

Then he took his phone out…

I chuckled when he told me the next part (sorry Mike), but I get it. He’d noticed there was a company logo on the side of the car. So, he snapped a few pictures of it with his phone. That prompted him to send the following email later that evening (something he wouldn’t ordinarily do). If you saw the pictures you’d do it too. Even a Skynet Prius has it’s limits without a driver (for now).

This is the cool part

The next morning Mike received a phone call around 7 am. He answered and heard a woman’s voice.

“Mike this is _____. You ratted me out yesterday.” In my mind I imagine the seconds after that statement lingered for a while, but she continued. “Thank you,” she said. “I’m the Safety Manager!”

He told me that she sounded genuinely thankful. They found through their conversation that they are both motorcycle riders and both sensitive to the actions of other drivers. For me, though, the best part of the story was hearing about the woman’s humility and grace. We could all learn to be more receptive to corrections and criticisms. Many of them are done with good intentions even when they feel like you’re being dimed out.

And hey, even if the other person is trying to be a jackass and dime you out there is probably something worthwhile to learn from the situation. We’re imperfect beings. The best among us are the ones who learn from every opportunity. Plus, when Skynet does take over we can rest assured that it’s going to get the bullies first anyway (think about it… bullies probably aren’t the ones who are smart enough to build a computer with artificial intelligence).

Razors Will Never Not Be Sharp

And risk will never not be risky…

A few years ago I was reading through some training slide decks for R&D (rip-off and duplicate) purposes. A HUGE, bold statement caught my eye and dropped my jaw. The statement was beyond asinine at first blush, but I wanted to test my opinion. So, I texted my friend Rich (who you may recall is much taller and MUCH older than I am). I saved the texts because I knew I would want to retell the story some day.

Me: Have you ever cut yourself shaving?

Rich: Of course.

Me: Did you CHOOSE to?

Rich: No, but I learned not to shave while drinking.

The texts went on for much longer and devolved into comments that I probably shouldn’t ever publish. I don’t need people knowing how twisted I am in real life. Suffice it to say that our friendship is partly predicated on an unspoken challenge to see who can say something so vile that the other can no longer reply. For the record, Rich is the only person who can beat me at that game.

The statement was… well… something

The slide that had caught my attention proudly (and boldly) read: If you believe all accidents are preventable, then you have to believe ALL accidents are a choice!

While I’m fully aware there are many who think things like that, I’m still amazed when people try to sell their non sequitur arguments to others as fact. The part that bothered me wasn’t the touting of the tired “all accidents are preventable” mantra (let me pause there while the pious among us stop reading). What bothered me was the second statement. I can’t wrap my head around any reason why it would be helpful to tell people that. It certainly won’t do anything to stop people from getting hurt. But it will offend those who have been.

No one goes to work to get hurt, right?

In my post titled The Dark Place I alluded to injuries I experienced while serving in the Air Force. That post described the resulting pain and my struggle with the medication. The first of those injuries began as a muscle strain and snowballed into nerve damage I still deal with daily. I can tell you categorically that I didn’t choose to injure myself. I absolutely made a mistake and put my body in a weak position, but not with the intent of causing harm. I did it because I thought my actions would accomplish the task without undue risk. I was wrong.

We are imperfect creatures who make decisions based on the information and experience we have at a any one moment in time. As I described in THIS POST, we don’t always have enough (or correct) information to avoid disaster. To label someone’s misfortune as a choice is not just offensive, it is outright dismissive of reality.

The razor is the key

When dealing with risk you have two basic choices: Remove it or Compensate for it. Removal is always preferable, but not always practical. So, we compensate. Compensation always comes with a chance of failure. When the failure results in injury, it doesn’t mean someone wanted to get hurt, it means their compensation wasn’t adequate. Our goal should be to learn that lesson and do better next time.

The only way to ensure you never cut yourself while shaving is to stop using a razor to shave. Switching to an electric may help, but as I see it, only growing a beard or electrolysis can guarantee no cuts. If you choose to grow a beard, get some Christmas lights to hang in it. ‘Tis the season:

(Affiliate Link)

Let’s Give Back: MOVEMBER (Good Stuffs)

We may not have the answers, but lets find them

Back in May I was contacted by a reader with a blog topic request about mental health. It was a heavy one. His story was incredible, yet hard to process. Those who know me well, know that I’ve struggled through some dark times and dark places, but everyone’s experience is different and I have been pondering what I could/should add to the conversation almost daily since receiving his email.

I’m not a mental health expert by any stretch of anyone’s imagination. In some ways I feel unqualified to even broach the subject. In other ways I think that feeling is just selfish. Because if something I write encourages or motivates just one person to stay here and live, the words are worth it.

The email, as I mentioned, was heavy. In it, the reader recounted how struggling with depression, he was placed on a “work improvement” program by his employer. In the midst of that added stress he attempted to commit suicide. While recovering on disability his employer accelerated the work improvement timeline. Then, upon returning to work, he was terminated.

Thankfully, he is still alive and working things out. I know from being in my own DARK PLACE, however, that it’s easy to go back. It takes support, daily commitment, and knowledge we may not have yet.

Enter the Movember Foundation

My colleague Tim Sanken contacted me a few days ago with a great idea and proposal. Over the last few years, Tim has raised an incredible amount of money with the Movember Foundation to help end men’s suicide. I’m sure many of you are aware, as I was, that the month of November typically has an accompaniment of men growing terrible mustaches. What I didn’t realize is that there is a great reason behind the movement.

It all started with the Movember Foundation. Tim and his team (which I am now happily a part of) have set a goal to raise $10,000 this month that will go directly to support men’s health issues. Everything from prostate cancer, to mental health, and suicide prevention.

This is such a worthy cause when you consider the impact it can have. Consider these facts:

  • 6 of every ten suicides is a male
  • Globally, 1 man dies of suicide every minute of every day’
  • The Movember Foundation has funded over 1,250 men’s health projects in the US and around the world*

What if our contributions could end just one of those tragic, unnecessary deaths? I think it would be worth it.

Please consider joining Tim and myself on Tim’s Movember Stachers

To speak with someone immediately, contact National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK) or Lifeline Crisis Chat.
If life is in danger, call 911 or go directly to emergency services.
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