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All About You: Do your best

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.

“The Four Agreements” by don Miguel Ruiz is one of my favorite self-improvement books. Ruiz proposes four agreements that, if we make them with ourselves, will help us gain “personal freedom.” But I want to focus on one.

“Always do your best” has done wonders to help me enjoy life to its fullest and perform better. It doesn’t mean trying to be perfect – perfection is too subjective to attain. But if you do your best, you’ll always feel good about how you respond to and act in every situation.

For example, even if what I’m doing at work will never be noticed by anyone but me, I still gain satisfaction from knowing I did my best. It helps me enjoy all tasks, from conducting a routine safety inspection to washing my car on the weekend. Plus, it becomes a habit that helps you shine in various ways.

Here are three areas of my life that have improved since I made the agreement to do my best. I wish the same for you.

Personal and work relationships

Even if it’s a simple interaction, such as talking with a server at a restaurant, I do my best to be friendly, kind and, when I can, funny. If the service is taking longer than usual, I remind myself to do my best to handle the delay gracefully. It’s not always easy, but it’s worth the effort.

At my radiation safety demolition job, I strive to do my best to be a team player. That means being mindful of my behavior and how others react to what I’m saying and doing. I also make active listening a priority and give my full attention when co-workers are speaking to me.

Mental health

Just as exercising, staying hydrated and eating a variety of nutritious foods help your body stay healthy, you can do many things that have a positive effect on your mental health.

I do my best to feed my mind with uplifting thoughts. One way I do that is by reading and contemplating inspiring ideas. My home office and my cubicle at the power plant have all kinds of fun and inspiring sayings and accoutrements that lift my mood. One colleague recently told me she visits my cubicle when she needs a mood boost – it makes her smile.

The mind-body connection has been well established. Extensive research has shown that, no matter what physical routines you follow, if your mind isn’t healthy, your body will suffer. So, by doing your best to have a healthy mind, you’re caring for one of your most precious possessions.

Minor tasks (they matter)

Recently, the group I work with decided to stretch each morning before our daily briefing. I volunteered to head it up and did my best to make it fun and valuable. It has turned out way better than I expected. I did a bunch of research and found a station that plays “stretching music,” as well as an excellent five-minute routine. It’s a welcome addition to our morning briefings, and the way it’s been received is more proof that it’s worth the effort to do your best.

Doing my best even on simple tasks extends to my conduct when I do more important work. It becomes a way of life. Every day, whether making my bed or conducting a root-cause investigation, I feel good about my efforts and enjoy moments more.

Making an agreement with yourself to always do your best is a personal matter, so there’s no need to feel let down if your best today isn’t as good as it has been on other days. No one else has to know. However, an excellent benefit of regularly doing your best is that, over time, your best will keep improving!

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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