Apr 5, 2023 | gga

Safety Briefings

A few years ago I was on a work trip in New York. For ‘team bonding’ we went to a commercial-style kitchen to cook dinner for ourselves, with the help of professional chefs. It was actually a lot of fun; I’d recommend it.

But, the first twenty minutes consisted of interminable safety briefings: knife safety, chopping board safety, food hygiene, hot water safety. These were all things I was familiar with. I can use a tap!

I have just come back from a family holiday to the Maldives. On the trip, I decided to take my daughter out on a jet ski on the open ocean.

Here’s the safety briefing, in full:

“You’ve ridden one of these before, right?”
“No, but I’ve ridden a motorbike.”
“No worries. This button starts the engine, this button stops it. That lever makes it go forward, this lever is reverse. Off you go.”

And you know what? It was heaps of fun, and nobody died. In fact, nobody was injured. Not even a little bit. Safety briefings across the holiday were all like this, mostly. The island was not drenched in the blood of the walking wounded. The first aid centre was deserted.

But occasionally there was a sign or a safety announcement. The same woman responsible for the jet ski briefing also told someone to not attempt to swim to another island under any circumstances. I listened to that. When they felt that a risk was worth calling out, I suddenly paid attention and listened.

Yes, every aircraft is subtly different. Do you pay attention? Really?

How much teaching falls into the safety briefing trap? Are you so overwhelmed with pointless noise that the real value is hidden? The memorable lessons in my life have treated me like an adult and focused on ‘the stall of new things.’ The really great lessons have gone further and started with the key concept that mattered.

Are you learning, or are you in a safety briefing?


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