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All About You: How do you think you’re doing?

All About You by Richard Hawk

EDITOR’S NOTE: Motivating employees to work safely is part of the safety professional’s job. But who motivates the motivator? In this monthly column, veteran safety pro and professional speaker Richard Hawk offers his entertaining brand of wisdom to inspire safety pros to perform at their best.

It’s said that our thoughts create our internal reality. They also shape how we experience the world around us. One broad thought – such as, “How do you think you’re doing?” – can strongly influence your feelings and mood. You may be having a smooth afternoon with no major concerns, but if you convince yourself otherwise, you can taint your emotional state. It’s like imagining a dark cloud over your head when really it’s a sunny day.

So if someone asked you right now how you’re doing, what would you say? Something like “Fine” or “OK” or “Good”? Often I’ll receive “Hanging in there” as a reply. Recently, a friend told me he was “Just trying to get through the day.”

Many times when we ask people how they’re doing, we’re just saying hello and don’t expect a detailed response. But what if you were to ask yourself that question and then think about it a bit before you replied? While I’m sitting here on a plane writing this article, I realize how blessed I am to be able to share my thoughts with so many fellow safety professionals and make a positive difference in other people’s lives. So I think I’m doing quite well. These positive thoughts about how I’m faring not only influence how I feel right now, but will no doubt boost my mood for the next few hours.

If thinking that life is good and things are going well is so beneficial, then why don’t we always do it? Many people hardly do it at all. Partly it’s because we rarely assess our thoughts and, if they’re negative, try to change them.

I use two thinking modes to improve how I think I’m doing. I’ve found that being aware of them is a key factor to staying upbeat even during trying times.

Don’t regret your present situation

We can tell ourselves we’re not doing so well today because our career or other aspects of our life didn’t turn out the way we planned. Realize that although you can begin changing your habits, actions and thoughts to redirect your situation, you can’t change the universal law of cause and effect that put you where you are today.

For several years I dreamed of and worked hard at becoming a famous musician. However, marriage, children and the need to provide for my family “got in the way.” Instead, I became a safety professional, which led to my present career. It’s possible I wouldn’t enjoy life nearly as much as I do now if I had achieved my early aspiration. And because I’ll never know whether a different career would have made me happier, it’s a moot point to regret where my path has led me. If you wish things had turned out different for you in some way, realize that what you’re experiencing now may be giving you more fulfillment than what you were hoping for.

Remember, everything passes

Nobody knows what tomorrow will bring – not in detail. Sure, the sun will rise and myriad experiences will be available for you to enjoy. You may even hit the jackpot! You also may receive bad news or an unpleasant surprise.

What helps you enjoy your moments in both cases is to realize you’ll be able to handle whatever happens – because it will pass. Thinking that way can prod you to cherish your positive experiences. It also reduces fear and other negative emotions when you realize this “bad” thing will end.

Your response to “How are you doing?” may not seem like a big deal, but it can be. At a store in my town, I purposely choose the line of a certain cashier, partly because she’s funny and partly because when I ask her how she’s doing, her answer is something like “I’m enjoying my life” or “It’s a beautiful day for me.” I once asked her why she always says she’s doing so well – even the day her beloved dog died. Her answer – which is wise advice – was, “Saying good things about how I’m doing lifts my spirits.”

This article represents the views of the author and should not be construed as a National Safety Council endorsement.

Richard Hawk helps companies around the world create more vibrant safety cultures by showing them how to make safety fun. As a professional speaker, author and musician, he also inspires employees to focus better and enlightens safety leaders about ways to increase their influence. To learn more about Richard, visit


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