“I completely blanked”
Not really the words I wanted to hear after I picked my son up from his University final exam. With the right amount of empathy and respect I felt this could turn into a teachable moment. My son was experiencing regret. It wasn’t time to pounce and say “If you didn’t study enough, you got what you deserved”. It was a time to hear his frustration and have a conversation about how this could be avoided.
There were no words of condemnation or useless platitudes, I simply acknowledged, “Yeah, I’ve been there.” My son has had some detractors, people that assured him that since High School was easy for him he won’t likely do very well in University. He’s taken that skepticism to heart and become very driven to excel and prove the naysayers wrong. If I were to step in now and push him around because of an apparent slip-up it would certainly have a negative impact. The test accounts for 60% of his final mark, in a class where his lowest mark has been mid-eighties (that’s when I graduated, but not the marks I graduated with). He was discouraged that 3 hours could have such a profound impact on the class he excelled in all semester.
I offered a simple nudge, a comment, “That highlights the need to study hard, those 3 hours have a big impact on an entire semester of effort, you owe it to yourself to be as prepared as possible.” It was a neat moment. I shared some insight that was helpful and even welcomed. His next test was the following day and he vowed not to have the same result and backed that up by studying.
I wasn’t elated that the negative event took place, but seeing a positive response to the regret provides hope for the future. Have you had a disappointment today? Don’t retreat … is there something that disappointment can teach you? I encourage you to be a student of regret, not a slave.
Last fall I had the opportunity to speak for Sun Country Health Region in Weyburn at their Patient Safety Conference. Before I spoke I was able to listen to the harrowing story of an electrocution survivor. There were multiple times through his presentation that he talked about his “favourite nurse”. I made a mental note of this repetition since, I too, had a favourite nurse. In fact, I was bold enough to ask the audience during my presentation, “Why did he have a favourite nurse?” Why did I? Why do we have a favourite doctor, teller, or salesperson?
It may be hard to pinpoint exactly how someone becomes a favourite, but most likely there was some part of an interaction with that person that you were able to sense that they genuinely cared for you, your opinion and the need you had.
During my brief stay in the hospital I was determined to treat every one of my healthcare professionals with courtesy and respect. This attitude existed because I had never before been in the hospital and because my mom was a healthcare worker. When my grandfather’s health was failing, I felt he was overly critical of the care he received. Specifically, I didn’t feel he was very nice to his nurses. During my hospital stay, my Mom was one of my visitors and she was concerned because I seemed to be worrying more about the staff than about the state of my pain. Granted that after I provided such a poor pain rating my stay in the hospital was a lot more intense than it needed to be. I’m not saying to ignore your state, but consider what it must be like to work in such a needy environment. As a healthcare professional it is never about you … perhaps we could extend that to say as a professional it isn’t about you. If you have a customer they need to be your focal point.
My guardian angel (favourite nurse) knew how to make me feel like his customer. Like I was the most important part of his day, like he really cared about my mental and physical state. We had some regular chatter and we had some focused customer interaction. He asked if he could wake me up if it was time to receive my medication. He explained that it was best if we kept ahead of the pain by being consistent with my pain meds. I thought that was a great idea because the minimization of pain was far more critical to me than the sleep I knew I was missing out on. I knew I could trust him and he further endeared himself by honouring that trust and waking me up. He came at the end of his shift and said goodbye and that he was glad he got a chance to help me out, but his night shifts were over and I’d likely be gone before he started days.
In contrast here’s the interaction with another one of my nurses … well, let’s say she wasn’t my favourite. I reminded her to wake me up at 2 am if I was sleeping when she came to give me my meds. She agreed. This was at the end of my second full day in the hospital with very little sleep the previous two nights (measured in minutes, not hours). It was 4:30 in the morning and I woke up in horrendous pain. I pushed the button for assistance as quick and as hard as I could. I missed my pain meds by two and a half hours. I said “You never woke me up, I needed my pain meds!” Her response, “When I came in you were sleeping and I didn’t want to bother your sleep.” Clearly she missed out on what was important to me. It took me that entire day to catch up on the pain.
When she came to check me the next day I told her my pain was too intense and I needed my meds increased, her response, “Are you expecting there to be no pain?” I was floored … my sunny disposition became dark and overcast. I wasn’t yelling, but my retort was “I’m not expecting no pain, but something less than a 9 or 10 would be nice!” She seemed to question the significance of my pain, somehow I felt betrayed. Oddly enough many times in life I’ve prided myself on having a high pain threshold, but this experience was a whole new level and I knew I needed help.
I continued to plead until finally my Doctor agreed to increase my dosage. Nearly six days after my injury I finally felt relief from my pain. I remember it well … It was like I just spent the previous 5 days in a room full of people yelling at the top of their lungs, then suddenly they all quit. There was just silence, peace. My guardian angel just came back on the day shift and he was the first one I talked to once I realized I had no pain. I remember asking, is this what it’s supposed to be like? So quiet, no pain? I was overjoyed! After a brief chat with my guardian angel I enjoyed the silence, closed my eyes then fell asleep for 3 hours (until my next dosage) ;). The next day I was discharged from the hospital.
What makes you a favourite? What do you have to offer your customer that makes you stand out from the crowd? What is your differentiator? Your competitive advantage? What is your customer expecting? Are you listening?
People package perseverance a number of different ways: Never give up, Work your way through it, Don’t give in, Press on, When the going gets tough the tough get going. In my presentations I use a Mixed Martial Arts term and say “Don’t Tap”. In MMA when a fighter taps out he is indicating to the other fighter or the official that he is surrendering, giving up. There are times it is advisable to tap in MMA and maybe even in life, but when there is the smallest margin of hope I would encourage you to persevere, not Tap out.
There were times when I was setting up my speaking business that it seemed like the only believer in the opportunity was me. I get a lot of support from my family, but the support didn’t seem to extend much beyond the walls of my house. I was on the internet, blogging, tweeting and spending countless hours trying to track down illusive speaking opportunities. It seemed the niche I was trying to fill already had enough people providing what I was trying to sell.
In my business, it came to a point where I felt like packing it in, like tapping out.
A trusted adviser of mine encouraged me to set some goals, but also to revisit them to see if they were realistic. I think he sensed I was putting too much pressure on myself and re-evaluating would provide an awareness of how far I had already come and what was realistic. The difficult thing about being an entrepreneur is being aware when you lose your desire the dream will slowly fade away. I have honestly felt that my message of safety and emotional healing is so much bigger than me and that I am privileged to deliver it. I remember being completely at peace that night thinking that if this thing falls flat right here and this is the end of the road, I’m alright with that.
The next morning was a brand new day and one of my routines is a daily leadership devotional by John C Maxwell. Here’s an excerpt taken from his outstanding book “Failing Forward”
“One of the most common obstacles to success is the desire to cut corners. But short cuts never pay off in the long run.If you find that you continually give in to your moods or impulses, then you need to change your approach to doing things. Cutting corners is really a sign of impatience and poor self-discipline. But if you are willing to follow through, you can achieve a breakthrough. The best method is to set up standards for yourself that require accountability. Any time you suffer a consequence for not following through, it helps you stay on track.”
Wow, that hit me like a ton of bricks. What are the odds that any book I am reading would have the words “Cutting Corners” in it on the exact morning I had resolved to take a break from my speaking business which, at that time, was based solely on my “STOP Cutting Corners” presentation? Further to the actual term was an encouraging word about having patience and developing greater self-discipline.
Later that day I took a deeper look into my presentation and decided it wasn’t nearly time to pick up the stakes. What followed was a renewed resolve to spread my message and a brand new perspective that resulting in developing my second presentation “Injury Aftermath – Navigating the emotional impact of an injury”. I’d like to say that things turned around that day and the speaking requests began pouring in, but that wasn’t the case. I did learn that more self-discipline was required and eventually the breakthrough came.
Have you faced insurmountable odds? Are you feeling defeated? Have you considered ways to keep yourself accountable? Do you have someone you can talk to about your struggle? Have you considered praying for inspiration and revitalization? I did, and the relief from stress and the fresh new perspective was amazing!
At the start of the New Year I stepped on the scale … it blurted out 183 pounds. Ahhh … I’ve been here before, but how and why did I return? A friend of mine told me “I just can’t gain weight”, well it appears I don’t have that problem.
I didn’t get here in a day, it happened one meal and one treat at a time. The last time I tipped the scales this high was in the months following my injury. Was this a coping mechanism again? No. Was the weight gain from inactivity? Yes, but this was also a complacency issue. A by-product of abundance.
2013 was a phenomenal year for me. I saw my vision of a bustling speaking business come to fruition. I was busy speaking in every corner of our wonderful province. More time on the road resulted in more meals out. I failed to increase my exercise with the extra calories and the restaurant meals translated to more pounds.
I saw it coming, in fact I still regularly weigh myself, but I felt it was concealed from everyone else. The first time I was confronted with it outside my house was last fall when I had a chance meeting with a client from the spring.
He inquired, “What are you doing in town?”
“Speaking for another client”, I responded.
He said, “So business has been pretty good for you?”
I replied “Yes, things have been going very well”
With a snicker he said “I can see that.”
I said, “Hey, wait a minute, what are you saying?”
He said, “I can see you’ve packed on a few pounds”
“You know what? You’re absolutely right, I’m going to have to work on it.”
The problem is I didn’t.
I was recently in Vancouver and had an opportunity to view a video of my presentation. When I viewed the video, I guess I saw things from a different perspective and realized the time had come to do something about my weight gain. A couple Christmas meals lead me to where I am now. Joining the large number of people setting dietary, exercise and weight reduction goals in January. Argh!
I’m pretty up front about my emotions and this happened to be another one I’m sure a number of you may struggle with. A while back a friend of mine shared with me that he’s getting snug in his fat suits, so it was time to react. I’ve exceeded my reaction point, but now it’s time to do something about it. I’m on my journey back to a healthier weight.
In “The Noticer“, Andy Andrews tells the story of 5 seagulls sitting on the dock. One decided to fly away, how many were left? “There are still five. Deciding to fly away and actually flying away are two very different things.”
I could sit here and regret that I’d gained this weight back, but when I’m feeling regret the reflection helps to guide me as to what is causing the regret and spurs me to action. I talk about this at length in my Power of Regret presentation. It’s not about being overwhelmed by regret, but stepping back and asking what lesson am I supposed to be learning here? Why not take a look at some of your unhealthy or unsafe choices and decide to make a change.
I used to be a Math and Industrial Arts teacher, as it turns out I’ve taught my kids fractions in a very difficult manner … my pointer finger is 2/3 and my ring finger is 1/3 of what it should be. People say, “High Five?” I reply, “How about a high four?” That kind of math is easy to understand, but I’m not sure how this adds up: I lost part of 2 fingers and gained 15 pounds.
Eating became a way of coping with some of my pain. If I was able to take enjoyment from eating it lessened the pain I was feeling in my hand. I’m only 5’8”, well, not quite … but a healthy weight would be around 165 to 170. I was about 175 at the time of my injury. Over time I began to pack on the pounds. I recall the day I stepped on the scale and it blurted out 189! What? Me? That’s crazy! I thought for a second, should I try to hit 190 to say I’ve been there or do I need to take action?
Food is the most widely abused anti-anxiety drug in America,
and Excercise is the most potent yet underutilized antidepressant – Bill Phillips
I decided to take action. Over the next 3 months I made a very conscious effort to curtail my caloric intake (eating less) and also began exercising more. I also made sure I stepped on the scale each morning to determine if I was winning or losing. I was amazed to see how much impact a big dinner could have on my weight.
It felt odd eating less than my son, but realizing that he’s still growing and that his metabolism and activity level was greater than mine it began to make sense he should eat more than me. That is part of the rut we get into, we do things a certain way because we’ve always done them that way. My activity had taken a dip so my consumption needed to follow suit. I needed to keep better tabs on things, to report on my weight just like the status of a project that I might be working on.
Week after week I focused on a lower, healthier weight. I began to feel the difference physically and emotionally. I was more energetic, more positive, and slimmer. People began to notice and some of them even asked me if I was feeling alright because they noticed the weight loss. Man, that was encouraging!
I remember stepping on the scale one morning and I was 163 pounds … I did it! I was ecstatic! I hadn’t been that weight since the 80’s.
Pay attention to your warning gauges. Are there things that have become habit forming for you that are unhealthy or unsafe? What can you do to change the trend? Recognizing unhealthy habits is half the battle, now do yourself a favor and look for a healthy habit to replace those undesirable coping techniques.
It was minus 49 degrees with the wind-chill this morning. Brrrr. That’s crazy cold. It’s not quite to the point where you could throw water into the air and it comes down as ice, but that doesn’t feel too far away. It’s one of the days your tires feel like squares as you drive to work. This is the kind of day you need to plug in your car or you can forget about it starting (Most Canadian vehicles are equipped with block heaters which is a little heater you plug in to keep the oil in your car warm). It’s the kind of day you wouldn’t want to get stranded on the road.
I recall a frigid day just like this when I was driving my wife’s car down the gravel road on my way to work, back in 1994 (I was an Industrial Arts teacher at the time). The road was in good shape, but my tires grabbed a little bit of gravel and the car began to fishtail. It swung one way, I corrected, it swung the other, I corrected and I thought I had everything under control. Suddenly the car swung one more time and I over corrected and headed straight for the ditch. One more large over-correction and I ended up flipping the car onto its roof. Everything went into slow motion as I skidded along the edge of the road, thinking is this really happening?
The snowbank was coming at me at an incredibly fast pace, then the roof caved in and I ducked so that it wouldn’t hit me in the head. The windshield smashed! I was panicked and wondered how much worse this was going to get, was I going to get pinned to the seat? Finally I came to a stop! I undid my seatbelt and fell onto the roof, then I turned the window down (actually up) so I could get out of the car. I wasn’t sure how long it would be, but it was frigid and I knew I was going to get cold quick. I wasn’t prepared, I was wearing a light winter jacket and my Doc Martins. I knew my wife was going to work, but thought she was taking the other road, so I began to run for the highway. I ran a mile in that frigid weather and each stride I took my shoes became more and more like bricks hitting the roadway. Thankfully my wife saw someone out for a morning run on this desolate stretch of road and everything turned out alright, except for the fact I’d just totaled her vehicle. This outcome was very favourable, but certainly isn’t guaranteed.
Think of what your vehicle is enduring, at minus 34 at the highway speed of 110 km/hr the wind-chill is almost minus 70. We get so used to our frigid temperatures that we’re often without some basic necessities that we should have in case of an emergency. Are you prepared in the case of a vehicle or driver malfunction? Make sure you have enough fuel and dress warmly: mitts, toque, boots, and a good winter jacket. Other winter driving tips
Do yourself a favour and stay inside if you can … maybe even curl up in front of the fireplace. If you do go out, make sure you’re prepared.
Have a Safe and Merry Christmas Everyone!
My wife calls me a centipede because I have so many shoes down by the door. I take the criticism on the chin since she’s absolutely right, but each pair of shoes seems to have its own purpose. As I walked down the hall I saw one of my co-workers sporting a pair of sandals which seems a little odd for work, especially since its 15 below outside. At one of my presentations it was very frosty outside and most of my attendees had the warmest looking winter boots I’ve ever seen. Is your footwear appropriate for your situation? Is it keeping you safe? One of the top safety hazards in nearly every line of work is slips, trips and falls. That safety starts with our selection of shoes.
I’m not sure if you’re growing weary of my “growing up” type stories, but I have one more for you. I guess I would be about 15 years old by this time and my brother and I were working for my Dad’s Construction Company. This was at the outset of his demolition days and the target was the local grain elevator. We collected great amounts of rough lumber as the elevator was being taken down and it was time to harvest the wood. All of the nails needed to be removed. This may sound like a very monotonous job, but there was a sense of accomplishment as the unorganized entanglement of lumber became nicely stacked two by fours.
This process had gone on for many days and we were fairly skilled at removing the three and a half inch spikes. I just finished stacking a two by four and as I went to grab another one I stepped on a nail sticking out of another board. This wouldn’t present a problem with proper footwear, but my work boots didn’t have a steel shank or steel toes. I felt the nail go right into the bottom of my foot. I immediately yelled out “Ahh … I stepped on a nail!” I couldn’t lift my foot off the board since the nail was stuck in my foot and in the sole of my work boots. My brother was right beside me, but he non-chalantly said “Yeah, hurts doesn’t it”. “Does it ever! Do you think you can help me?”, I replied. With a lot more urgency I added, “I can’t get my foot off the nail!” He replied, “Oh right now?”
I got my brother to stand on the other side of the two by four and pulled my foot off the nail. Immediately my sock and work boot filled with blood … apparently I had pinpoint accuracy on where not to step. The nail didn’t go right through my foot, but was in the arch area and apparently punctured the vein. I got to the house and got cleaned up, then went to the hospital to update my tetanus shot. Later that month I had a brand new pair of work boots, this time with steel toes and a steel shank.
A while back Dad was telling me he took two 45 Gallon drums full of nails to the scrap yard. After more than 30 years I guess that nail is finally getting re-used
Is your footwear and clothing appropriate for the job you are doing? Is it appropriate for the elements you are facing? What about the rest of your PPE?
I have been very fortunate to live a life of abundant blessing. I have been blessed with a great family and many friends. I have been blessed with good jobs, a nice home and an awesome country to live in. It’s not that everything’s always “comin’ up roses”, but I do have a lot to be thankful for.
This year I’ve had the privilege to speak to over 3,000 people in Saskatchewan with a message that I deliver passionately because I believe in it so strongly. I’ve been blessed with this opportunity and responsibility. I have always had a passion for public speaking and can recall a conversation with my wife over 7 years ago about my ideal job. I told her if there was a way could speak to 100 or 200 people everyday, now that would be a job I would enjoy. My problem was I didn’t know what I would say. What use would it be to fill everyone’s ears with something that made no difference?
Fast forward to November 2008, I was only in the hospital for a week after my injury, but I recall those days of immense pain and the thoughts jumbled in my head about how I could use my injury to help others. In the months that followed, this dream continued to grow as I suffered through different disappointments and failures. I was very focused on my recovery, which included some intense therapy to rehabilitate my hand. I remember having a meeting with my manager three months after my injury and letting her know that when I came back to work I would be pursuing speaking opportunities and I hoped that would work alright alongside my job. After the meeting I thought about how that must’ve sounded … she must have thought I was a wing nut or that there was more than just a little nerve damage in my hand and that somehow my brain was impacted.
I had a number of conversations with the principal and a teacher at my children’s school and that ended up being the first stop of my speaking career. It was only six months after my injury, I had just started back to work part-time, but I recall feeling so driven to come to the school and share. I spoke to the grade nine students about the high injury rate of young workers and didn’t “show my hand” until the last 10 minutes of the presentation. As the classroom let out a collective gasp, their shock and reaction ended up bringing me to tears. I intended to make the presentation impacting, but never considered it would impact me.
That day was very fulfilling and marked the start of a brand new journey. Realizing I have been given an opportunity to impact people in a positive way has become an awesome responsibility and something I take immense pride and satisfaction in. I hope you don’t see this as being smug or boastful, but I truly feel that I’ve found my purpose. A big part of that purpose is being willing to be open about struggles and difficulties and helping people navigate through similar situations they have encountered.
Do you have blessings that you could share with others? Is someone you know going through some turmoil that you’ve already encountered? Why not pass along your blessings and “lend a hand”? Happy Thanksgiving!
They caught my attention because I could hear them enjoying their day just outside my window. There was three of them working together sharing a little camaraderie as they soaked up the sunshine. I admired their work and the fact they were working away without a care in the world. Their work was efficient and precise; I couldn’t help but think how much better they were doing than I would. I’m not sure how long they worked at their trade, but there were a number of other people admiring their job as well. In fact, they had an area sectioned off just so a crowd wouldn’t grow and potentially be adversely impacted by their work.
I don’t think their work is too difficult, but it’s clear to see they took pride in what they were doing and all the on-lookers could easily see the skills they were brandishing. One thing is for certain, it takes someone with a unique skill set to even apply for a job like this. I know that might sound a little contradictory, but as I said they were right out my window, in fact, they were washing my window … on the seventeenth floor.
I had the chance to go down and talk to their boss about the exceptional job they were doing and about how they seemed to be having a good time. From the ground level I was marveling at how high that was and how comfortable they were working at that height. Their boss confided in me that being a high-rise window washer takes a special kind of person.Most of us aren’t hanging out on the 17th story, but I would venture to guess all of us will, at times, approach a common daily task without regard to the present danger. Inattention or disregard to hazards can prove to be dangerous or even fatal. Sometimes we get a little cocky with safety and our attitude says “It won’t happen to me”. Kind of like a boxer letting down his guard or even going out of his way to taunt his opponent. Sooner or later that tactic will fail and the results will be devastating, just ask Anderson Silva.
My window washer friends were following the safety protocols they have established, are you? Or are you leaving your chin out there waiting for the next haymaker?
I’m sitting at the airport waiting for my flight. It’s almost impossible to focus because there is so much activity, but I needed to stop everything and write this down while I remember. The announcements, so many announcements … they’ve got me in a state of wonder. I’m wondering why do people wait so long before they show up at the airport? Why do they cut their time so close? Why are people programmed this way?
I’m always talking about cutting corners and the last 2 flights have had 3 people that were on their last warning before the flight left. These people had their names said over the speakers at least 3 times before that final warning. They got the benefit of:
Now pre boarding flight 233 at Gate 27 to Edmonton for people requiring assistance
Now boarding flight 233 at Gate 27 to Edmonton for preferred passengers
Now boarding flight 233 at Gate 27 to Edmonton for passengers in the last 10 rows of the airplane
Now boarding flight 233 at Gate 27 to Edmonton for all remaining passengers
Final call for boarding flight 233 at Gate 27 to Edmonton
Once again final boarding call for flight 233 at Gate 27 to Edmonton would passengers Ian McCall, Jennifer Tremblay & Donald Cerrone please report to gate 27 for boarding flight 233 to Edmonton.
Would passenger Ian McCall please report to gate 27 for boarding flight 233 to Edmonton. The plane is ready to go.
Final call for Ian McCall at gate 27 for boarding flight 233 to Edmonton.
… Finally I see someone rushing to gate 27 … now I know who Ian McCall is (Don’t bother googling Ian I’ve altered his name to conceal his real identity).
That’s 8 times Ian was called, 3 times by name. What up? This sounds a little ludicrous, but trust me it is real. What causes people to do this? What causes people not to heed warnings? Somehow their own agenda simply trumps the agenda of the person issuing the warning. They aren’t tuned in, they’re oblivious. This is similar to the odd urinal scenario. These people comprise the 20% of the people that cause 80% of the effort for the airlines.
Oddly enough we continue to cater to the Ian’s and they just don’t seem to learn. We reaffirm that they are that important, that they have the privilege of making the entire plane wait, that they can ignore warnings. We need to continue to try to convince the Ian’s that they need to pay attention, but perhaps it’s time to get their attention in a different manner. Offering positive rewards to the rest of the passengers causes issues when airlines are making small margins on each flight. Negative incentives can also have a financial impact, especially if Ian is a frequent flyer and travels first class, but this may be the only option left. Of course the occasional missed flight brings about it’s own consequence.
When it comes to warnings are there times you’ve been like Ian? Consider the warnings in road construction zones … there’s been a huge increase in the profile Saskatchewan construction zones have been given. Fines have tripled this year, but there still seems to be a lot of people just like Ian ignoring the warnings. These people are stuck in their own agenda … gotta get to where they’re goin’ no time for construction zones. The safety professionals grow weary of this type of disrespect for the warnings. Is there a way you can help people to get the message? Well … I gotta go, my flight is boarding …