September 11 2023
By: Shawn M. Galloway
Twenty-two years ago, the world was shocked by the terrorist events of 9/11, thrusting Americans into a sense of collective intentionality. We were many, and despite differences, we became a single group, all experiencing sadness and resolve to do whatever was necessary to ensure the events were never repeated.
I witness these same reactions when I'm involved in helping a company recover from a tragic occupational safety event that took employees' lives. I see a passionate resolve to ensure the events are never repeated. Unfortunately, passion and resolve tend to drift, priorities change, and collective intentionality dissipates. This often demonstrates a lack of maintaining an aligned vision, a safety strategy not integrated into the overall business strategy, and ineffective accountability for the responsibilities of leaders to execute on the vision.
Here we are, twenty-two years later. A previously unknown country-folk singer, Christopher Anthony Lunsford, who releases music under the name Oliver Anthony Music, has instantly become a topic of conversation in many households. His self-published song, Rich Men North of Richmond, debuted at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and demonstrates the frustration many Americans, regardless of political affiliation, feel about the country's current state and its leadership. For a different reason, unified in some way again.
What unites or codifies is nearly impossible to predict, and unforeseen events can be massive disruptors and make any strategy obsolete. It is hard work to create a passion for a cause proactively. Creating collective ownership in a vision for the future and having a strategy agile enough to adjust as plans are disrupted is also hard work. But it's work worth pursuing and a must if your goal is safety excellence.
How robust and agile is your safety strategy? What are you doing to create passion proactively so it doesn't emerge reactively after a tragedy? How are leaders held accountable for creating a culture of safety excellence? If you do not have confident answers to these questions, call me. It is my passion and personal mission.
Ironically, I wrote this while waiting for my flight from Houston, TX, to Washington, DC, to finish boarding. Then, another unforeseen event: the United Airlines worldwide system outage at 12 PM CDT on 05 September 2023. This is why I try to fly earlier in the day. Delays seem inevitable lately.
"The arrival of the unforeseen reveals the depths of one's heart." — William P. Young
"Nothing is more imminent than the impossible . . . what we must always foresee is the unforeseen." — Victor Hugo
"The art of living is more like wrestling than dancing, in so far as it stands ready against the accidental and the unforeseen, and is not apt to fall." — Marcus Aurelius
Shawn M. Galloway is CEO of the global consultancy ProAct Safety. He is a trusted advisor, professional keynote speaker, and author of several bestselling books on safety strategy, culture, leadership, and behavior-based safety. He is a monthly columnist for several magazines and one of the most prolific contributors in the industry, having also authored over 700 podcasts, 200 articles, and 100 videos. Shawn has received awards and recognition for his significant contributions from the American Society of Safety Professionals, National Safety Council's Top 40 Rising Stars and Top Ten Speakers, EHS Today Magazine's 50 People Who Most Influenced EHS, ISHN Magazine's POWER 101 - Leaders of the EHS World and their newest list: 50 Leaders for Today and Tomorrow, Pro-Sapien's list of The Top 11 Health and Safety Influencers and is an Avetta Distinguished Fellow.