Risk Boldly

Risk Boldly

imageIt’s great to see that the Australians of the Year are adventurers.

The idea of adventure and learning in risk is central to all they represent. Even when they were in the midst of their rescue of the boys in the caves in Thailand they expected to lose some or all of the boys, they were prepared to risk death for life (https://www.sbs.com.au/news/australian-of-the-year-winners-thai-cave-heroes-message-to-kids ). As they say: ‘we had no choice’. As they stated, ‘If you couldn’t die, I wouldn’t be interested’.

I have written about the importance of adventure and learning in my free ebook: Real Risk, Human Discerning and Risk (https://www.humandymensions.com/product/real-risk/). There is no learning without risk.

The only reason these men had the knowledge to rescue the boys in Thailand is because of all they had learned through risk. Just imagine if these men had lived by the nonsense mantra of ‘zero harm’ or ‘all accidents are preventable’. Can you imaging how dumb they would be. Certainly with no capability to do anything. There is nothing like risk-averse dumb down safety infused with zero harm ideology to make you the dumbest person on the planet. How strange, our two famous Australians describe their friendship as ‘hanging about each other at our own peril’.

Dr Challen, joked that: ‘it was the greatest regret of my childhood that I never had a plaster cast on my arm’. What a comparison to an industry that counts band-aids out of the first aid kit and has a Spanish Inquisition if you twist an ankle. I dare say these blokes count what they learn not by the number of times they nearly died on an adventure but how important it was to embrace risk.

It’s also lovely to see this pair reject the nonsense language of ‘hero’, such a part of the crazy fixation of the safety industry with safety as somehow ‘saving lives’. Even though the media want to project this language, our Australians of the Year sensibly reject it. Their comment: ‘Anyone with a measure of enthusiasm can achieve the sort of things that we’ve done’.

I nearly vomit when I see the TAC Victoria ‘zero heroes’ propaganda (http://www.tac.vic.gov.au/about-the-tac/media-room/news-and-events/2014-media-releases/tac-weighs-in-on-rewarding-zero-heroes), a dumb indictment of an industry fixated on Hazardman discourse (https://safetyrisk.net/hazardman-wont-save-you/) but no idea of the ordinary nature of tackling risk. If you need a zero hero to be safe, you really do have a problem with risk.



From the TAC Vic Website

Of course the only way to get to zero is to take no risk. Don’t live!

However, in the real world of fallible humans and random living, we know that such language is nonsense. What a silly immature discourse that basks in the self-absorbed language of salvation heroics but knows little about Real Risk.

Let me tell you, when we were rescuing Todd and Brant at Beaconsfield in 2006 the last thing we wanted anywhere near the activity was a hero. Heroics are dangerous in all approaches to tackling risk, yet safety endorses and covets this stupid language.

Congratulations to Dr Harris and Dr Craig Challen. What a wonderful model of how Risk Makes Sense (https://www.humandymensions.com/product/risk-makes-sense/ ).

I wonder how many checklists these guys did to rescue the boys in Thailand???

Dr Rob Long

Dr Rob Long

Expert in Social Psychology, Principal & Trainer at Human Dymensions
Dr Rob Long

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Dr Rob Long
PhD., MEd., MOH., BEd., BTh., Dip T., Dip Min., Cert IV TAA, MRMIA Rob is the founder of Human Dymensions and has extensive experience, qualifications and expertise across a range of sectors including government, education, corporate, industry and community sectors over 30 years. Rob has worked at all levels of the education and training sector including serving on various post graduate executive, post graduate supervision, post graduate course design and implementation programs.

13 Replies to “Risk Boldly”

  1. On one major resources project an employee received burns to his mouth and tongue after eating a jam filled donut that had been heated in a microwave oven.

    Following the auto da fe to establish the proximate and distal causes, warning signs were affixed to pie warmers and microwave ovens in crib room across every site.

    This horseshit happens repeatedly and the investigations are often conducted by independently accredited witch finder generals under the guise of zero harm…….If only the shareholders knew.

    Safety professionals indeed.

  2. I was conducting work for a southern shire council NSW when workers told me all canned foods were banned because someone cut themselves on a can when opening it. Fair dinkum you can’t make this shit up. I often advise people not to include the word ‘safety’ in their job title because people associate it with being dumb.

  3. Rob its funny you stated that. I have begun replacing the word “safety” with “well-being”. Its a subversive way to inject a world view of people as subject vs as objects.

  4. The word ‘safety’ more and more has a meaning of petty embuggerance and is associated with being dumb. It’s a very career limiting word now so its better to talk about risk, culture, people or learning. Once you have identified with safety its very hard to escape that sector and move into leadership or management. Safety is now synonymous with zero and any of the real helping professions would never entertain such nonsense talk. The NSW state government has been trying to maintain the silly talk of zero with regard to drugs at dance parties and looks more stupid as each day passes and each new fatality. Yet, Sydney has a safe injecting room and harm minimization approach but refuses to entertain the idea of pill testing. Good olde zero, the god of safety at work in dumb down destruction of young peoples lives.

  5. The following link provides access to an interesting article covering Orwell’s views on censorship:


    Liberty includes the right to tell people what they do not want to hear:


    Freedom is exclusively freedom for those that think differently – Rosa Luxemburg

  6. Good links Bernard. I think there is a great deal of pressure to conform and obey and, it’s a huge thing to challenge any accepted orthodoxy. Just imagine if you are in any organisation these days and challenge zero? You will be marginalised, not because zero is unprofessional language or the denial of fallibility, you will be sacked because you challenged orthodoxy and swam against the tide. Organisations are so assembled to drive compliance and this involves suppressing critical thinking and any questioning of accepted ideology. The key is to create security by demonsiing ‘the other’ and this gives a false security. So whilst everyone is singing the song of zero, nothing changes and brutalism is justified in the name of good.

  7. I think the main problem with all this talk is that everyone actually wants the same thing, to minimise harm to as low as possible. What goes wrong is the intractable views that some people in safety have.
    The destination (which some people think is the end of the journey) is the same, but it is the ability to identify changes on the journey and alter course to maintain a realistic view of where we are heading that counts.

  8. I think you’re right Brian but my trajectory isn’t zero. Happy to minimize harm to ALARP but I’m not prepared to brutalise people because the ideology is zero. The key word is ‘realistic’ and that’s something that zero isn’t. With fallible people, fallible systems, random world and risk, the language of zero is perhaps the most unprofessional grammar possible, certainly not the language of helping.

  9. Just imagine these two guys going into this impossible situation and some clown saying: ‘what’s the only acceptable number?’ Framing life through numerics is the dumbest binary mindset, just destroys any sense of risk, learning and venturing into uncertainty. Yet, in safety noone challenges the dumb question itself. The answer to that question is not a number but rather: ‘why are you asking a dumb binary question?’ ‘When did you stop hitting your partner?’
    These guys were prepared to lose every child in that cave and in many ways were lucky they helped save them all. Just imagine if they had saved all but one? or two? What a crazy way to think. But there’s TAC Vic with its zero heroes asking exactly that dumb question expecting people to think it involves some form of intelligence.
    When I worked in the church we would run a funeral every other week. Just imagine if we worked on that stupid question? I know let’s have no funerals, our target goal is zero death, brilliant.

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