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It’s going to be all about you

Richard Hawk speaking

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.

Welcome, fellow safety and health professionals, to the first in a series of columns that will help you stay inspired, energized and focused. You’ll also get tips on how to increase your influence. Yes, that’s a big promise. But I’ll give it my best shot, and if you’ll come along for the ride I’m confident you’ll have a good time and be glad you gave me your attention.

The columns will not be about the elements of your safety and health program. Those elements certainly are important, but these articles are just about you – someone who works in a field that presents unique challenges. I know from years of personal experience as a full-time safety supervisor what it’s like to be asked, “How are we going to prevent this from happening again?” by an operations manager when you don’t know the answer, what it’s like to feel that you only get attention when there’s a problem, and what it’s like to walk up on a group of workers who quickly dive for their personal protective equipment once they see you!

Here’s the type of useful material you can expect:

  • Descriptions of six habits guaranteed to help you focus better
  • A fun lesson on how to give yourself a realistic pep talk when you feel “down” – one that will ratchet up your enthusiasm a notch or two
  • Current insights into human behavior that will help you have more control over your work and home life, and how to better influence other people to improve their behavior – a big part of what we do as safety leaders
  • Tips on how to be more persuasive with “upper management” when you feel you’re not getting the support you need
  • An easy-to-follow list of practical ways to handle stress
  • Strategies to help you stay inspired to do your best even when nobody is listening to you during a safety meeting

To make sure the columns are relevant, I’ll draw from the latest findings in science and research. I’ll also include anecdotal examples that will describe practical ways to implement the tips and techniques I suggest. So let’s get started.

‘Posture Power’

You’re attending a two-hour meeting and your energy meter reads near zero. You can’t take a nap, so what else can you do? Try checking your posture. You’re probably not sitting up straight. Because you’re feeling tired, your body is likely acting tired. By straightening up, you’ll send signals to your brain that you are not tired.

Results from research show that improving your posture can actually change your body chemistry! For example, a recent study by Amy Cuddy, a professor and researcher at Harvard Business School, showed a marked increase in the energy-regulating hormone testosterone and a decrease in the stress hormone cortisol among subjects who sat and stood in what she calls “power poses” for just a few moments. The opposite happened to the subjects who slouched or posed in more submissive postures – their testosterone levels went down and their cortisol levels rose.

I know from my own experience that my posture affects how I feel. When I notice I’m slouching or in a tired-looking position and I straighten up, I perk up. Another benefit to straightening up is that it improves how other people view you. It sends a signal to them that you are engaged and alert. So why not give it a try and tap into your own Posture Power? It’s a simple thing to do, and I’m confident you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results.

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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