Be Wise the First Time

“I’ll be wiser next time.”

I heard a guy recounting an accident he had with a chainsaw. He was a first-time user. He refused an opportunity to receive training on it from an expert. He refused to wear the prescribed safety equipment while working with the saw. He placed his hands in the vicinity of the saw while another person was using it. The result was a severe cut. He narrowly avoided cutting his fingers off.

He was telling a story about how foolish one can be. As he told it, I just shook my head. I’ve heard the story so many times.

We do things to make you wise the first time.

We offer training on how to use the equipment. We offer the proper safety equipment. We put experienced people around you to help pay attention. We empower any of you to report unsafe conditions and we give you permission to sit down on the job until those conditions are reconciled.

All these actions are an encouragement to you to “be wise the first time.”

Many times, our failure to be wise results in a bump or a bruise that we can recover from after a week or so. Many times, our failure to be wise results in a “near miss” where the only damage was a shot of adrenaline to your heart when the miss occurred and a shaking hand that comes later as you contemplate what could have been.

But, too often, the cost of not being wise is significant. Life is altered forever. In fact, the idea that you will be wiser next time would be good if you only had the chance. But, the chance to redo it right is wiped out by the significant loss that occurred.

So, be wise. Follow the rules. Learn from the mistakes of others. Be mindful of the work you are doing. Help others around you by teaching, reminding and confronting. It could be life changing for you and your colleagues.