This episode was difficult to create.  What can we take from a year like 2020? What hope do we have for 2021? It turns out that the question becomes the answer, and the silver lining appears. 

Hey, it’s Andrew, and this is Safety on Tap.

Since you’re listening in, you must be a leader wanting to grow yourself and drastically improve health and safety along the way.  Welcome to you, you’re in the right place.  If this is your first time listening in, thanks for joining us and well done for trying something different to improve! And of course, welcome back to all of you wonderful regular listeners.

I misspoke, this episode actually wasn’t difficult to create, it was difficult to start.  Not because I am not motivated to podcast for you, quite the opposite I beat myself up every week I fail to put out an episode in what I have committed is a weekly podcast. 

The difficulty probably comes from a sense of both exhaustion and overwhelm. 

There was the disruptive pandemic thing.  Economic disarray.  Businesses chewed up.  Unpreparedness.  Government scrambling and incessant changes to rules and requirements.  Unnecessary and premature deaths of grandparents, friends, children, and entire families.  A year of disjointed education for my kids.  Mental health pushed to the edge and beyond.  Committing to too much, and then adding even more with the need to be adaptive to both meet the needs of our Safety on Tap Community and a business which should put food on the table. 

How shitty I felt being overwhelmed with my problems in 2020, despite knowing they are first world problems – like the fact that physical distancing, sanitiser, and intensive care are all things that half the world cannot access. 

My habit has been to release an episode pre-Christmas with a reflection on the year, and then share my hope and goals and encouragement for you in the new year.  What can I say in an episode after 2020?

The first thing, and probably the one to sum it all up, is that humans are frickin awesome.  As in awe, a-w-e, the first part of awesome.  It means an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, produced by what is grand, sublime, extremely powerful. 

And so as I scribble notes for this episode, I realise that my have come full circle back to my original problem, feeling overwhelmed….and that my summary of 2020 is also one of overwhelm – yet it’s the polar opposite, it’s the awe-inspiring, awe-filled, awesome kind of overwhelm. 

Welcome to 2021

I’m sorry to say that this is a bit like when Apple released the iPhone 4S, which for most intents and purposes was basically the same as an iPhone 4.  Except they introduced Siri, which I suppose might have been enough for neophiliacs to get a new one, this coming from a guy who still doesn’t use Siri. 

I’m sorry to say that like the iPhone 4S, this year will be much of the same.  And like Siri much of the time, you aren’t likely to easily find the answers to the questions you desperately want to know. 

What I will say, is what is certain is continuing high levels of uncertainty.  One of the first discussions we had during our Safety on Tap Togetherness virtual sessions, was around engineering resilience, that is intentionally designing and building, resilience, and adaptive capacity. 

That has and will continue to hold you in good stead.  Make plans, probably plan for A, B and C.  Design them to change quickly.  Shed the heavy baggage, the sunk costs, and the hard-to reverse or slow-to-implement aspects of your professional practice. 

And for God’s sake, please stay in this profession, please continue to grow yourself and stick with this.  The world needs our work now more than ever. 

Goals vs Word of the Year

Goals, goals, goals.  Setting goals seems a little futile given such high uncertainty, don’t you think? I agree, which is why goals have not been the pinnacle of what drives me.  I still have them, they’re just not the top of the triangle. 

What is at the top is my word or phrase of the year.  Inspired by Dr Jason Fox (from episode 96) and brought into my world in a practical way by Tim Allred (ep 3 and 23), this is an annual-ish ritual (as Jason would call it). 

My Phrase for 2020 was Ruthless Gentleman.  Sounds like a contradiction in terms, but it makes sense if you want the full back story and explanation have a listen to episode 130. The short summary of it is this: Be Ruthless with Time, be. Gentleman with People. 

Time is the only resource we all have the same amount of, and none of us can get more of it.  I haven’t fully respected this fact in the past, and have deeply felt the guilt and disappointment of wasting it, kind of like watching some beautiful natural beauty like the Amazon rainforest be destroyed, but I was the bulldozer driver.  So I was to be ruthless with my time. 

And Gentleman with People.  This balances the first commitment.  It’s easy, when one is being Ruthless with Time, to not take a call from an old colleague, or to have supportive mental health conversations with a struggling friend, or forget that I have a wife and kids to whom I need to be vaguely familiar.  So when it came to people, I needed to be my best self, and somehow balance that with the time thing. 

Long story short…maybe long story long, I hope this is somewhat interesting, and maybe even helpful for you.  Get to the point Baz. 

I surprised myself with how well my Ruthless Gentleman year went.  It meant a lot of changes for me.  Things like discipline in planning, hacking my way to reduce distractions and procrastination, and ultimately delivering more AND being a better human being.  It’s been the most powerful manifestation of a Word of The Year for me in the few years I have been doing this. 

And thus, lest I bow to the inflexibility of a ritual, I am keeping Ruthless Gentleman for 2021.  I have more work to do.  And it fuels me.

A Big Hairy Audacious Goal for 2021

But….wait for it.  What’s going to be different about this year Baz? Why would you build up with this reflective stuff and a promise of something new….and keep the same Word of the Year?

I have set a goal for 2021 that I would like to invite the entire Safety on Tap Community to be a part of.  Yes, that’s you. This is the first time that I have ever shared a goal publicly.  And it’s a big, hairy, audacious goal. So I’m kinda pooping my pants about both the goal, what’s required to achieve it, and the fact that I am sharing it with the world. 

But the very act of sharing the goal does two things.  We all know that a goal shared creates a psychological gap, a commitment which our brains are wired to close, to act consistently with.  So it’s a bit of a hack for me to make it happen.  But it’s also something that I cannot do alone. 

This goal involves so many of the things I stand for, I practice, that I teach and I enable for individuals, teams and organisations.  This goal involves learning.  It involves practice, making real change.  It is anchored in both side of evidence based practice: research informed, and evidence generating.  And it has to be fuelled by community, by people like us, who do things like this. 

But it’s not ready yet.  I will be making an announcement of this goal, and your invitation to be part of it, in late January 2021.  It won’t be via the podcast however, so the best way for you to catch the announcement is either to pop your email address in over at (I am very not spammy and send occasional emails, always with interesting stuff), OR connect with me on Linkedin. 

Where does that leave you for this year? I hope and pray that this year brings you change, positive change.  But I am realistic that this rollercoaster ride is not over yet.  So most of all I hope and pray that you make the brave decision to control the things you can control, to influence the change you are able to influence, and build the resilience to weather all the rest of the things that 2021 is likely to throw at us. 

Here’s to making 2021 that kind of year.  I am blessed and honoured to continue to occupy a slice of your attention and precious time, and look forward to continuing to enable you to grow, in order to drastically improve health and safety along the way. 


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