SAFETY “THE INFINITE GAME”
Last year my colleagues at Safety Made Simple and I read Simon Sinek’s book “The Infinite Game.” The forward to the book reads, “The rise of great societies, advancements in science and medicine, and the exploration of space all happened because large groups of people, united in common cause, chose to collaborate with no clear end in sight.
If a rocket headed for the stars crashed, for example, we figured out what went wrong and tried again and again. And even after we succeeded, we kept going. We did these things not because of the promise of an end of the year bonus; we did these things because we felt like we were contributing to something bigger than ourselves, something with value that would last well beyond our own lifetimes.”
While my first intent for reading the book was to gain business insights, my mind quickly shifted to workplace safety. I recalled all of the times I had been involved in rolling out innovative programs or initiatives that had a clear end date and result in mind or how many times I had seen clients commit to safety after a serious tragedy only to fall back into the same behaviors and thought patterns that lead to the tragedy itself. This type of finite thinking always seemed to result in quick gains before regressing back to square one.
Safety is an infinite game. Success is not achieved in weeks, months, or even years. Success requires persistence and patience. It requires a vision of the future with a realization that ultimate success may never be achieved. The goalpost is always moving. Success in infinite terms requires us to think more about our legacy than short term success. It is hard to grasp this concept. Our society is inclined to seek out immediate gratification for most efforts we undertake. History is filled with visionary characters who worked their entire lives with the hope of making people’s lives better, even after they’re gone. When it comes to employee safety, I hope to be one of those people, and I bet you do, too.
Joe Mlynek is a partner and subject matter expert at Safety Made Simple, LLC. He has over 25 years of experience in safety at the corporate level and as a consultant. He is a Certified Safety Professional (CSP) and Occupational Safety and Health Technician (OHST). Joe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org