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All About You: Be kind to yourself

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.

I’ve known my best friend for more than 30 years. He’s a sage man, and I call him every so often to ask about what he’s been reading and to get some book suggestions. Our conversations are enlightening and fun, and I cherish our time together. We’ve always treated each other kindly.

I haven’t always been as kind to myself. When I made a mistake, I’d berate myself – and even lose sleep over my mishaps. Time became a vicious taskmaster, and I’d get furious at myself because I didn’t get as much done as I had planned or didn’t practice, work out or give a talk precisely like I thought I should. Although I had no problems with my self-esteem, I wasn’t nice to myself.

But it’s an area of my life where I’ve significantly improved. Hecato, a Greek philosopher, once said: “What progress, you ask, have I made? I have begun to be a friend to myself.”

How about you? What are some ways you can become a “best friend” to yourself?

Here are my top three tips.

Take time for yourself

We spend most of our days, especially at work, serving others. It’s a mainstay of our profession. If you’re also a parent to young kids or teens, caring for them may take up a large part of your time when you’re at home. And kids or no kids, many of us log onto our computer or check our phones as soon as we get home from work.

I’m addicted to my phone. I always know where it is, and I check it way more than I need to. But I’ve realized that I need to take time for myself, away from clients’ possible emails and other work-related messages.

I make sure I don’t look at or even think about my virtual world for at least an hour a day – usually in the morning. I meditate for 40 minutes every day, so that takes up most of the time. But even after I meditate, I don’t look at my phone (although I want to!) for another 20-30 minutes. Time with myself means I’m a friend to my thoughts.

Cherish your simple pleasures

You have clean running water at your disposal every day. That’s a supreme blessing. Each morning, when I shower, I think about how fortunate I am to have shampoo, soap and other hygiene products at my disposal. The invention of these products has helped prevent all kinds of discomfort and disease throughout the world.

These grateful thoughts enlighten my feelings and put me in a bright mood, ready to arrive at work with a smile and pass along that positivity to co-workers. What simple things are you grateful for?

Give yourself a break

No matter how diligent or conscientious you are, you’ll make mistakes. Trust me when I tell you that the nuclear industry, in which I’ve been working the past few months, has myriad procedures and policies. Although I’m diligent as a radiation protection technician, I still make mistakes. Now, though, because I’m my best friend, I cut myself a break when I forget something or don’t do what I was supposed to.

We’re often our own worst critic. Being told to be my best friend is the wisest advice I’ve ever received and has given me much relief and joy. It can do the same for you.

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

Richard Hawk helps leaders inspire employees to care more about their safety and health so “nobody gets hurt.” He also has a long history of success getting safety leaders to increase their influence and make safety fun. For more than 35 years, Richard’s safety keynotes, training sessions, books and “Safety Stuff” e-zine have made a positive difference in the safety and health field. Learn more about how Richard can improve your employees’ safety performance at

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