Thursday, March 26, 2009

Attitude is Everything.

The past few days I have been working at the Planning 4 Reliability National Forum, which has been taking place at the G. The conference participants included maintenance staff, engineers, and reliability workers. It was nice to see a field that is not known for their communication skills engaging in networking opportunities and open forums. I remember how much I enjoyed participating in the PRSSA/PRSA conferences in 2007 and how much I learned from those few days.

I’ve been assisting the Event Manager, so it has been a great chance to gain some experience working with venue staff and seeing what kind of issues go wrong behind the scenes – and more importantly, how to fix them before the attendees notice.

Yesterday morning, I had the opportunity to take a break from chasing down the catering staff to sit and listen to one of the conference’s keynote speakers. Fred Delahunty. The theme of his speech was about the power of attitude.

Delahunty was the casualty of an electrical explosion at his plant. Today, the native Kiwi looks like an average man – a physically-fit grandfather of sorts. Ten years ago, he was given a -22% chance of survival after sustaining third-degree burns over 60% of his body. Delahunty did not want his story to come across as motivational or inspirational, rather as a testament to the importance of having a good attitude and holding safety as the number one priority in the workplace.

The accident at his plant could have been avoided with more open lines of communication. He called for the audience to guard against complacency. He reminded us to make sure that when we deliver a message, the recipient not only hears, but understands what has been said. He explains that bad work habits are a direct result of a bad attitude, which enables accidents to more-readily occur.

Unfortunately for Delahunty, it is impossible for his story to not been seen as inspirational. The drive demonstrated by a man who once had essentially lost his independence is unbelievable. Before he concluded his speech, Delahunty made a lasting point: [Recovery] is 20% expertise and 80% attitude. I believe that this can be applied to everything. Will-power is what ultimately sets those who overcome ailments apart from those who don’t. Drive and determination are what set two job candidates apart when the skill-sets are comparable.

Communication is not something to be left solely to those in the field of communications. We are all communicators, whether we like it or not.

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