When Ron Gantt Ate A Frito Pie: On Safety & Common Sense

Who doesn’t love a Frito Pie?

Well for starters, Ron Gantt didn’t until recently. I can say that with a high degree of certainty because prior to February 28th of 2020, he’d never had one. Let me back up a bit…

Before the world went completely bats#!t crazy I had the honor of having lunch with Ron along with Marc Yeston and the one and only Dr. Todd Conklin. I’d never been to the restaurant before, so on my way into town I stopped to gas up and call Ron for directions. When he picked up, the first thing I heard was Todd loudly proclaim:

“Ron’s never had a Frito Pie. We need to fix that!”

So, I ended up at a nice diner in downtown Santa Fe where Frito Pie was a staple. It was a great lunch.

Then I got to thinking

“Common Sense” could easily lead someone to think that a snack food as quintessential as Frito Pie would be known to most adults living in this country in the year 2020. The thing is, that version of “Common Sense” is only valid to someone who has eaten a pile of corn chips smothered in chili and cheese.

Believe it or not, that thought has been stuck in my head since that day. Ron and I have discussed it a few times since and it strikes me that eating Frito Pie is a lot like work. And not simply because of the “chore” that becomes necessary shortly after you eat one. Its a representation of perspective, communication, and understanding.

Experience may does vary

One of the most common pitfalls in human communication is assumption. We’re hard wired to do it though… Think about it. How many times have you had a conversation with someone who is ten topics ahead of you yet provided no context to what they are talking about? My wife and I do it to each other so often that we’ve gotten in the habit of telling the other “I’m not in there” (as in, inside your brain).

The truth is everyone sees, feels, smells, hears, and touches the world through their own, unique lens. Even experiences shared amongst close friends and loved ones are perceived differently by every single participant. You will never know how I see the world, nor will I you. That’s part of what makes us great. But its also what makes us cynical.

Enter work…

Here’s where this idea gets interesting. It’s such a simple concept, but it is so so hard to practice. If it’s true that every person’s experience is unique, then everyone you meet knows things you don’t. That part is easy enough to digest… But think about it the next time someone does something undesirable at work. It could be anything: performing a task sub-optimally, breaking a rule, triggering an incident (with or without injury). If that person’s life experience is truly different than yours (and it is), then you have NO IDEA why that person behaved a certain way in a certain circumstance. Chances are you will never find out why if you simply believe the person should have known better.

Allow yourself to reflect on that for a while. Then ask yourself if your judgement of the actions of others really fits the context they were living in before the undesirable thing happened. It may just change the way you look at the way work (and maybe even the world) works.

But wait… There’s more!!!

Ron and I recorded a really great conversation about work a while back. It’s something everyone in the safety field should take a listen to. Check it out and let me know what you think (don’t forget to like, subscribe, and share)!