In the spare 5 minutes a day that a café owner gets to sit down; we were joined by a bloke in Yarraville one day. He launched straight into a whinge about his chef, shaking his head in weary wonder.
‘It was Anzac day last week right? And do you think this peanut remembered to order more chicken? No. So, by 11am we are scratching it off the menu and having to apologize to every second person. I tell ya, I’m bloody amazed he can remember to put on his undies some mornings.’
My friend, a consultant, is pretty clever. She asked him ‘How well do you know your chef?’
‘He’s been working for me for ten years’.
‘Does he own a house?’
‘Well he’s building one.’ The Café owner said. ‘He and his missus live in a shed on a property and they are working to a plan. Gradually building their dream as they get the time and money.’
‘Ah’. My friend said. ‘So tell me then. Does he follow a footy team?’
‘Collingwood’ He replied. ‘Absolute Magpies tragic. Nothing he couldn’t tell you about them over the past fifty years.’
‘So’ my friend said. ‘He’s got a great memory; and he seems to plan ahead in the rest of his life. Why isn’t he bringing that to work?’
If there was a clear answer to this simple question, businesses the world over would certainly make more money and probably have a better safety record. I have no easy answers either but I do sense though, that we get extrinsic motivation and intrinsic motivation mixed up. It’s clear that most of the day to day actions we perform are driven by intrinsic motivation. Yet so much of the safety message is framed in ‘carrot and stick’ incentives that only really impact extrinsic motivation.
How do we improve the quality of our mindfulness? So that our day to day actions are more congruent with those intrinsic values like professionalism, teamwork and excellence? Ritual plays its part. It’s why rituals are the central part of so many cultures.
I’m always reminded of the power of ritual when I’m on a rig in the middle of the ocean. In this case the Timor Sea. It’s midnight and the pre-tour meeting is underway. The transformation, in each member of the team, from laughing, joking boofhead – to attentive, switched-on pro, is palpable. They just can’t afford not to. In offshore energy you don’t go too many days without someone coming up with the old cliché,
‘We’re sitting on top of a giant floating bomb after all’.
It’s a cliché because it’s true.
In seeing as many pre-start meetings as we have: ranging from the crisp excellence you get from leaders who really see the meetings importance and know how to tell a joke and a good story – to turgid bore-fests that have you questioning why you are even alive, let alone at work. It’s hard not to see a bit of a pattern, and appreciate how important they are. The role they play in encouraging people to bring all of themselves to work.
A lot of what we teach in Strong Spine is about how to switch your body on – to bring all of your flexibility, balance and stability to the task. It’s easy to draw a comparison to how a good pre-start meeting can achieve this for the body and the mind.
Don’t ask us yet. We are busy. But sometime this year I think we’ll offer a training session on what we can see as the difference between great pre-starts, and not so great ones.