A great, positive story by Drewie (Hard Hat Mentor) that will resonate with many, particularly FIFO workers. It’s a longer piece but well worth a read to the end where Drewie provides some awesome advice, from her own experience, on appreciating all the good people, moments and things in our lives in order to deal with your negative, overwhelming thoughts and the impact they may also be having on others. ENJOY:
Once Upon A Time – In A Faraway FIFO Land………
By ‘Hard Hat Mentor’
The act of writing can be so very therapeutic to the author. (It is to this author anyway.)
To get ‘It’ out of you, to share the thinking, to hit the button and hope that someone out there may relate, nod often, find it beneficial and pass it forward.
The reality for me is that if no one actually ever read it, at least that one thought has been put to bed in a manner of speaking. Set free would be a better term.
An added bonus is to also make some space in the authors head for the other trillion thoughts bouncing around in there screaming to have their shot at freedom too. So the cage door is now open………….
Have you ever watched the news and all of a sudden been over whelmed by the number of heartbreaking tragedies which were crammed into such a short space of time?
Every now and then that feeling is so powerful it almost brings me to tears. The majority of us I suspect watch, listen to or read the news on a very regular basis. We do it without any ill effects most of the time. We like to know what is going on in the world and in our back yards.
Usually after 20 minutes of being bombarded with story after story of death and destruction, injustice and corruption to name a few, we will then be rewarded with a 2 minute ‘happy story’ perhaps to balance it all out and finish on a positive note. A nice gesture with the best of intentions.
It is not just the news which can bring on this feeling. Today was one of those days where every article ‘clicked’ and research which needed to be moved into a folder was all doom and gloom. Full of dread and the brutal facts regarding the effects the downturn is having on many of us as just one example.
Not liking the way this made me feel, it reminded me that I am choosing to feel this way and my thoughts are causing this feeling.
Sharing the thought may help in the short term for some. Getting it off our chest. Setting it free.
What else can we do when thoughts which are actually not helpful, change our mood and effect how we respond to circumstances and people around us come creeping and crawling into our heads? What happens when those thoughts make up the majority of our thinking?
So it is time to finish the day on a positive note, to run the ‘happy story’ after such negative news.
Perhaps even helping others to change things up when they are not feeling so great about a given situation. To ‘reframe’ their thoughts for more positive outcomes.
Once upon a time in a land far, far away, there was a girl who spent 12 hours a day for weeks at a time trying to help an enormous number of workers and leaders to face challenges they found to be very daunting.
The aim was to positively influence the culture on site by firstly giving teams psychological insights into how the mind works, an awareness as to the ‘why’ we may think and feel the way we do in a given situation. Supported also by strategies which may allow us to respond verses react and to then take that self- awareness and knowledge into meetings and out to the field. To consciously intervene if you like, at times when our own actions and behaviours may be effecting our ability to have the outcomes we desire.
It was supposed to be all about the ‘S’ word.
Yet time and time again discussions were centred around anything but. So many other factors were prominent in many minds, it was prudent to address the herd of elephants gathering in the room.
The girl knew that ‘safety’ is not actually real, risk is, and surely with so many other concerns being voiced so loudly and so often, they could not be ignored. So she gave them a forum to begin the conversations regarding how they could work together to come up with options and a way forward to address those challenges. She believed this would be a great start to begin the battle in reducing risk out there.
Surrounded by water ironically, an island yes, though not in the way one usually imagines.
The catch cry of ‘livin’ the dream’ was bandied about, was even put on stubby holders.
Sadly, to many, that island was perceived as a nightmare.
Everyone on the Island was away from their loved ones. The majority for long periods at a time, almost a month. The remoteness and the nature of the beast that is construction at the time meant that communicating with family and friends, having a tether to the ‘real world’ was at times a ‘tad’ unreliable to say the very least. This seemed to amplify the frustrations.
The girl did her best, believed she was making a difference in her sphere of influence.
She was a positive person, an optimist in a seemingly unrelenting sea of pessimists who was often seen ‘happy dancing’ and singing to herself to the music at an hour of the morning that others thought no one should.
Yet there came a time when even she began to feel the weight of the world on her shoulders.
To be surrounded by so many angry, frustrated and disheartened souls took its toll. She was one person and her team was very small, there were 6,000 people on site. She and naturally some of her team were totally mentally drained and exhausted at the end of every day as she spent most of it coaching in a positive manner, to try to assist those souls to find a better way.
When we are away from our family and friends, when we are not physically present in our lives for stretches at a time, whatever is bothering us can seem even worse. This seemed to ring true at this point in the story.
She had been there before, when her role was in a more ‘traditional safety’ weirdo scenario. She never thought that it would come to that again in this new role, so very focused on the human side of the coin.
How little did she know. So very much to learn. People can suck the life out of you if you let them.
Then one fine day………. A bloke she didn’t know but had seen around, who usually just shook his head at her antics in the mornings, approached her in the mess and said,
‘What’s wrong? You are not doing your little jig, you are usually so bloody happy in here. I thought it was stupid and it pissed me off, but now it is annoying me that you are just like the rest of us. Seeing you like that actually used to cheer me up I reckon. I knew it wouldn’t last, that this place would knock that out of ya, happens to the best of them mate.’
And with that he was gone.
That one comment hit her like a tonne of bricks, stopped her in her tracks and ‘woke her up.’
The realisation that she had let the situation get to her, that others were beginning to notice, that it was even effecting how they felt.
How could she help anyone if she was not consciously using all the sexy psychological tools she knew were so very powerful, that she had coached so many others to use?
Sometimes the ‘coach’ is the one who needs a coach the most.
It turned out that some ‘random guy’ she didn’t even know, who said a few words in passing, would be the catalyst who initiated a change in her from that very moment.
To this day she doesn’t know who he was, he became lost in the ocean of orange and yellow Hi- Vis, the massive army that ritually marched to work every day and returned every night.
Yet she would be ever grateful to her mystery coach.
She left the mess that day determined to turn her own thoughts around, back to how they were, when she used to smile at everyone and do her happy dance whilst filling up her crib container.
She knew how to do it. She had run workshops on it for Pete’s sake.
It happened almost immediately.
She firstly focused on why she chose to be there and what she had to be grateful for.
What were the positive elements in her life?
She came up with the following list pretty rapidly off the top of her head without putting too much time or effort into it:
- A team to work with who share the burden and understand what she is facing. Who celebrate every little success and debrief and learn from every misstep. Who have leaders who listen and care.
- An opportunity to be a part of the biggest construction project in the country.
- A chance support and mentor those who find this FIFO life hard to take.
- Being part of an experiment which saw a safety role which had nothing to do with data, procedures, audits or investigations, but was totally focused on the human element.
- Watching those who chose to take on board the psychological tools they had been given and use them in such a manner that it made a difference not only their working lives their personal lives as well.
- Running a ‘Safety Leadership’ workshop without ever having to say the word safety.
- Meeting like-minded people who saw the value in sharing how the mind works to assist the culture on the project.
- Having a job. Not thinking of it as just a job but a brave experiment with Nay Sayers being converted on a daily basis.
- Having an en-suite room.
- Having heaps of choices at tea time (Australian for evening meal) to eat and all of it scrumptious.
- Not to have to rack her brain to think of something new to offer for tea. Not having to go to the supermarket and best of all, not having to cook every single night.
- Not having to do the bloody dishes.
- Having a BBQ any time she felt like it for tea.
- Having work clothes washed and dried and delivered to her room.
- Flying to work in a very big plane. Not a noisy rattly twin prop or a 5 seater light plane with no loo on a 3 hour flight.
- Not adding to the bills at home by using power, water, and gas. Not having to pay for fuel or adding kilometres and wear and tear to her car.
- Saving money by not being able to ‘go out’ and spend 10 bucks for a drink, buy a meal, pay for a taxi, buy clothes and other sundries she didn’t need in the first place. (massive savings here)
- Seeing the ocean every day, when previously she had spent years at work looking at the desert. (Lovely as that was)
- That first look on his face when they met after she had been away.
- Seeing everyone hugging their loved ones when arriving at the airport for R&R.
- Seeing ‘teeth’ in those who hadn’t shown them much on site when she saw them spot their friends and family on arrival. J
- Being blessed to have people at home who she missed very much and who missed her.
- Having a block off time off that meant she could go camping and fishing and take the quad bikes.
- Having those things in the first place.
- Catching up with friends for a leisurely long lunch in the middle of the week.
- Being able to use the boat ramp in the middle of the week.
- Flying interstate to visit relatives whenever she felt the need.
- Being there for family and friends at times when everyone else was at work.
- Having the time to work on ‘projects’ around the house and yard.
- Exercising at a reasonable hour.
- Being able to swim in the ocean not just look at it and pick a day the beach won’t be as packed.
- Avoiding the crowds all the time at the various traditional ‘weekend’ spots by going on a Wednesday.
- Sleeping in especially when it was freezing cold and raining.
- Sleeping in when she knew many were getting up and battling peak hour traffic on the freeway or having to use public transport.
‘All human life can be found in an airport’. David Walliams
Happy she had an arsenal of positive thoughts, concrete reminders to draw on, she vowed from then on that every day, she would remind her self of just one.
That when she was surrounded by those who had forgotten why they chose to be there and what they had to be grateful for she would help them to remember their list, drivers, reasons, options.
That when she felt those negative unhelpful thoughts creeping, crawling, trying to invade her mind and her mood therefore her behaviour and ….well everything, that she would replace them with a more helpful ones, she would ‘reframe.’ After all she knew that the only thing we can control on the entire planet was our own thoughts. We can influence a massive amount of things but actually control them? No.
She knew she had spent time in the past, especially on a bad day, thinking about:
- How ‘bloody hot it was.’
- How it ‘sucked that the plane was delayed again.’
- How someone in their infinite wisdom made a decree that;
‘Thou shalt wear gloves when walking around doing nothing at all in 44 degree heat.’
After all she had no control and in fact even less influence over the weather, the plane schedule and the mandatory site rules (though she did have a crack at trying desperately to influence that glove rule, to no avail)
She started dancing and singing again.
She saw magic in the tiniest things again.
She saw the best in people again.
She showed her teeth again, all the time.
So she lived happily ever after.
Walked side by side with the orange and yellow Hi Vis army, so happy to be given the chance to be on that amazing site with those amazing people in that land far, far away.
She even broke into a skip every now and again whilst marching with them to shout loud and clear that one of her frames was:
‘Life is too short not to find your inner child and let them come out to play every now and then’.
She knew that though outwardly these tough hard arse salt of the earth construction workers may shake their head and looked pissed off at that silly little girl, yet deep down inside, hidden from view, they were smiling and it cheered them up.
A Call to Action
Our thoughts are very powerful. Where are we letting them lead us?
If now and then, or all too often, they are leading us astray then perhaps the saying ‘we can be our own worst enemy’ makes sense.
Reframing unhelpful thoughts can be hard if a certain frame has been with us for a very long time. Yet making a conscious effort to do this for more positive outcomes in, well everything, is so worth the effort.
In the long run it won’t even feel like an effort. If we do this every time they come creeping and crawling, our newly formed frames have a chance to take hold to become our new and improved ‘map of the world’. A natural part of who we are.
It is powerful stuff.
Try it at the first opportunity. Give it a crack. What have you got to lose?
To learn more about it you can access the relevant resources that no doubt Dave has kindly put at the end of this article.
Dare I say even skip now and then.
Thank you as always for staying with me to the end.
My next one will be short sharp and sweet. I swear. This one just took on a life of its own.
Now I shall get out of your head and you can get out of mine.
It is way too crowed in here already!!
Stay safe and keep smilin’ (dancin’and skippin’)