It struck me as I watched Alabama’s comeback in the 2018 College National Championship football game, that to be successful, sometimes we need to stop, take a pause, and try something different than what we’ve been doing.
If you’ve been around the safety profession for any length of time you have probably heard the famous quote: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always got.”
The quote has been linked to people like Henry Ford, Albert Einstein and more recently, self-help guru, Tony Robbins. During an interview following the National Championship game, I heard Alabama’s head coach, Nick Saban say essentially the same thing when asked why he changed quarterbacks at halftime. Pretty gutsy move to ‘try something different’ right in the middle of a National Championship.
So, what has allowed Coach Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide to achieve such incredible results? The answer may lie in Saban’s post-game comments. He described the total trust his coaches have in each player’s ability to execute the game plan. The coaches train their athletes, identify variables associated with the game, design the game plan, then trust their players to execute that game plan on the field.
I find myself inspired by teams that have the ability to close the gap between near-perfect and perfect. I see our job as safety managers as similar to that of a football coach; each day we try to close the gap between where we are - and where we want to be. We coach executives, managers and front-line workers to execute a ‘safety’ game plan in hopes of improving our safety results.
On paper, it looks simple, in reality, it’s often incredibly difficult to accomplish. I think that’s why it’s so impressive when we witness an organization achieve safety excellence. But, just maybe, if we’ve done our job as coaches, trained our workforce, identified variables associated with the work, designed a safety plan, then trusted our workers to execute that safety plan in the field, we need not fear failure, and should embrace trying something different if change is necessary. Excellence is achievable.
This is what I resolve to do this year. To be a better coach, to not fear failure, and to do a better job of closing the gap between near-perfect and perfect.
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