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Safety – Easier Said Than Done

19 Jan

Safety.  Number two on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – right after eating and breathing.

Safety.  The primary focus of Alcoa’s famous rise from the ashes.

Safety.  The gateway to excellence in software development.

(Lack of) Safety.  The first of the four invisible impediments to high performance teams.

Safety.  Something that is completely internal.  Some people feel safe in a burning building.  Others are afraid to walk across a busy street.  In the last year, our focus at Industrial Logic has been safety as a gateway to excellence.  And the more we explore, the more it resonates.  The more it is surprisingly true.

For me, I’ve had a really long weekend.  I made a mistake at work that upset one of my colleagues and may have negatively affected our standing with a client.  Bummer.  It happens.  But it was the weekend.  And I’m 10 timezones away so it has taken three days for us to get together and talk about the problem.

However, since Friday morning I’ve been stressed.  I haven’t been able to focus.  And I have used a huge amount of energy to continue doing work that needs to be done for an upcoming deadline.  If I weren’t feeling so unsafe, I’d have been able to focus and would have been done by now.

And the interesting thing is, I know rationally there is nothing to worry about and even if there was there is very little I can do at this moment.  But my rational mind doesn’t mean very much to my emotional fear.

So, the question is, how do you feel safe?  How do you readily get from feeling emotionally unsafe to relative safety?  For me, it has always been (relatively) straight-forward: I man-up and face my fear.  If I’ve upset someone I pick up the phone and have a conversation.  If I’ve broken something, I do my best to fix it.  And so on and so forth.

But what works for one person, doesn’t always work for another.  And what about when you find yourself in my position this weekend when something isn’t immediately fixable or that person isn’t available for a conversation?

That’s what I’ll be focusing on over the next two weeks.  I’ll be reading up.  Having conversations with people who know this much better than I do.  And learning to more effectively create safety for myself and share what I learn with others.

Because Safety really is important to our work together.  And without it things break down and we become so much less effective than we can be.

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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