The difference between a product of circumstances and a product of your decisions.
The Invictus games was a truly humbling experience for me as I could not help but to feel moved by the courage, commitment and determination of the competitors.
These individuals have suffered life changing physical and mental injuries whilst serving their respective countries in conflicts.
Prince Harry summed it up perfectly when he said:
"Time and time again, competitors from around the world tell me that sport has saved them; that the Invictus Games have given them a new lease on life; and that to represent their country again with fellow comrades is something they could only have dreamt of while lying in hospital".
While these games may have given these competitors a new lease of life- we need to realise that what these people have achieved under the circumstances should be an example to us all.
Stephen Covey once said, "I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions ."
If you look at some of the injured Service men and women and the physical and mental trauma they have went through, you could almost accept that these individuals may feel a victim of circumstances.
But what they have demonstrated is that whatever circumstances you find yourself in, you can make conscious, intentional decisions that will directly affect your future.
These people have not only survived life threatening and life changing injuries, they have decided to use these circumstances as a catalyst to achieve great things that they previously never thought was possible.
So, while Prince Harry says that sport has saved them, these individuals have provided us with much more than the Invictus Games have given them.
How can someone who has been brought up in a poor area in unfortunate circumstances just accept what life gives them when these competitors have gone through 100 times worse and have achieved so much more?
And to underline the point, some of these competitors would have also come from the same poor area and experienced unfortunate circumstances as well.
The difference is that the Invictus Games competitors did not accept that they were a product of their circumstances- they achieved great things and became a product of their decisions.
When people say that certain individuals from poor social areas are just a victim of their circumstances, they are wrong- these people are a victim of the decisions they make under these circumstances.
Once people start realising this, they can start to focus on the decisions they make and strive to make better decisions to achieve better outcomes.
At STAARS Scotland, we aim to teach people how to make better decisions. Our 3-step process is simple to learn and even easier to implement.
We use case studies to reinforce the learning of the 3-step process and I am just finalising a case study of how the decisions made by the Invictus Games competitors fits into the process. The main message will be that whatever circumstances you find yourself in, if you make the right decisions, you can achieve great outcomes.
Whilst some competitors have stated that the Invictus Games has saved them and given them a new lease of life, we, as a society need to learn from the attitude, commitment and more importantly, the decisions made by these individuals.
To achieve what the competitors have done is amazing, but to inspire other people to believe that you can achieve great things under horrendous circumstances, if they make the right decisions is even better.
This is where the true value of the Invictus Games should eventually be and I am certain that this would give the competitors, their families and their friends an even greater sense of achievement.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post and I would be grateful if you would visit www.staars.uk.com to find out more about what our aspirations are.
I would warmly welcome any comments or shares of this post.
Major airline company Ryanair made 1.31 billion Euros profit in 2016-2017. This was up 6% from the previous year. Customers were up by 13% and revenue was up by 2%.
Ryanair clearly is a company that benefits from the good decisions made by its management and staff as these profits are not down to luck. They are the result of sound management decisions that have created this multibillion Euro company that regularly makes over 1bn Euros profit each year.
And their CEO, Michael O'Leary rightly takes part of the credit for these huge profits as he ultimately surrounded himself with the right people who could make the right decisions and help create these impressive figures.
But recently something went wrong.
It cancelled 82 flights on Sunday after admitting it had "messed up" the planning of pilots' holidays.
They also had to announce that they would have to cancel 40-50 flights per day for the next 6 weeks. This is estimated to cost the company around £20m in compensation.
If it was mainly down to the good decisions of its staff that created the 1.31bn Euro profit, is it fair to say that the estimated £20m compensation payments was down to the bad decisions of its staff?
Admitting they "messed up" the planning of pilots' holidays is yet another phrase you frequently hear when people have made a bad decision. Errors of judgement, mistakes and accidents are all other way to say that someone made a bad decision.
In large companies, the knee jerk reaction to losses like this is to find the culprit and sack them.
Good decision makers equate to profits and bad decisions makers equate to losses so if the company sack the ones who have made the bad decisions, this should ultimately lead to people making better decisions?
STAARS Scotland suggests an alternative approach.
Instead of sacking the people who made the bad decision, train them to make better decisions in the future.
Here is where we see the main advantages of this approach.
1. Staff retention.
It is easier and cheaper to develop staff to make better decisions than to replace them if they make a bad decision.
2. Company values .
If your staff truly are your most important asset, your words are hollow and mean nothing unless you can follow this up with action to make them feel these words are true.
By demonstrating that you will support and even develop them when things go wrong will go a long way to reinforcing this point. Staff will work harder, feel valued and repay the loyalty you have shown in them.
3. Collective responsibility
Company owners regularly tell staff that the success of the company is down to everyone but why do they sometimes want to pin any failures onto certain groups or individuals?
When I was a Station Officer in the fire service and my trainee was going up for assessment, I made sure they were the best prepared that they could possibly be. I would have felt that if they had failed, I had also failed for not training them properly. Collective responsibility means that the team is equally responsible for both the good and the bad decisions.
This suggested approach may be alien to some companies but we at STAARS Scotland believe that by training people to make better decisions, you automatically reduce the likelihood of staff making bad decisions.
This approach is best to be proactive rather than reactive and if you would like more information on our services, please visit www.staars.uk.com .
Throughout my life and especially my career in the Fire Service, I have always tried to keep things as simple and as easy to understand as possible.
I remember as a Trainee firefighter at East Kilbride and we had a plant sale to raise money for charities as well as an open day to invite the public in.
A woman said to one of my colleagues who was just about to retire, I think you do a great job and putting out fires must be really difficult at times.
He just smiled and said, it's simple really, we just put the wet stuff on the hot stuff and if we do it right, the fire goes out
People have written countless books on firefighters and firefighting and what makes a good firefighter.
Based on the description above, the simplest way of describing it is a good firefighter knows when and how to put the wet stuff on the hot stuff!
Another example of keeping it simple is during the Russian and US space race, the Americans invested millions of dollars in a pen that could write in zero gravity.
The Russians solved the same problem by using a pencil!
People sometimes try and overcomplicate things when they really need to keep it as simple as possible.
I have seen flow charts in the fire Service that were so complicated and difficult to follow that they just led to more confusion.
I remember a decision-making flow chart that actually contained over 80 pieces of information on one slide!
The funniest thing ever was the look on the faces of Junior Officers as the instructor tried to explain how it worked!
The point I am trying to make is that decision making should be kept as simple as possible to ensure it is easy to understand.
I have broken down the main factors that has led to STAARS Scotland help people to make better decisions.
1. What is the problem?
The problem is that bad decisions cause injuries and sometimes deaths, leading to criminal charges on occasion and huge financial implications as a result.
Bad management decisions can cost millions of pounds to Companies who can ill afford this loss.
2. Where is the evidence?
Hillsborough, Piper Alpha, The Costa Concordia disaster and numerous others were all caused by bad decisions.
The report by the Financial Services Authority into the collapse of the Royal Bank of Scotland which partly caused the banking crisis Stated: the " underlying deficiencies in RBS management, governance and culture which made it prone to make poor decisions ".
3. What is the solution?
If the problem is caused by bad decisions, the simple solution is to help people make better decisions and this in turn will help reduce accidents and financial losses.
I have already spent far too much time talking about bad decisions and although we need to learn from them, STAARS approach is to concentrate on the benefits of training people to consistently make good decisions
STAARS Scotland achieves this by keeping things as simple as possible and delivering it in a manner that is easy to understand and even easier to implement.
We use numerous examples of good decisions and break them down into the key areas. We then apply our decision-making process to them to allow people to understand the strengths in the decisions.
This approach also gives people who generally consistently make good decisions, a template to follow which they can easily use as an aide memoir.
STAARS Scotland is confident that this approach will help improve decision making and the organisations and individuals will benefit from this.
4. What can you decide to do?
Staying on the keeping it simple theme, you now have a number of decisions you can make.
You can decide to share this or forward it to someone you know who may benefit from this.
You may decide that you would like STAARS to visit your company to deliver a free no obligation, 30-minute coaching session on how to make better decisions. This session explains what our philosophy is and how the 3-step process works.
This will allow you or your management team to question us on our approach and decide if we can be of assistance.
Theodore Roosevelt once said: In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.
Please feel free to comment on this post and I look forward to your responses.
Ever wondered why certain people seem to achieve everything they want in life?
Some people seem to have the knack of always doing the right thing at the right time.
The promotion, the new house and new car seem to just happen for these people
You know who these people are because you could name at least half a dozen people you know who fit into this category.
These people always seem to get it right almost all the time.
And then there are the well-known people who have the same gift.
Richard Branson, Bill gates, and Mark Zuckerberg to name but a few, seem to have the uncanny gift of deciding when to start something at the right time and knowing how to keep it going for maximum effect.
This isn't luck or a fluke that makes people capable of doing this- it is directly related to the one key skill that I believe makes them stand out from the rest.
These people consistently make good decisions.
They will be the first to admit that they have also made bad decisions, but these pale into insignificance when you compare them against the wealth they have accumulated because of their good decisions.
More importantly. They have the experience to surround themselves with other people who also consistently make good decisions.
People who consistently make good decisions add huge value to a company and companies will reward these people well.
These are the people who get the promotion, the new house and the new car and can holiday where ever they want.
And I believe they deserve it because their good decisions are the main reasons that their companies are as successful as they are.
People who consistently make good decisions are worth their weight in gold and some people look at these individuals with a sense of envy.
They look inwardly to their own lives and circumstances and believe they could never be as successful, or couldn't get the car or the promotion or the house.
I totally disagree.
Firstly, Stephen Covey once said I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions
You have the ability and the choice to decide how you react to your own personal circumstances. You can accept them or you can decide to act to improve them. Improving your decision-making skills will help you to achieve your goals in life.
Secondly, decision making is a skill and it can be developed and improved the same as any other skill.
A famous golfer once heard a member of the crowd say that his golf shot was lucky. He replied, "The more I practice, the luckier I get"
Decision making is no different in that the more you concentrate on the key components of decision making and replicate them, the better you will become at consistently making good decisions.
And yes, some people do seem to be naturally gifted at decision making but with the right training, commitment and guidance anyone can achieve the goal of consistently making better decisions.
STAARS Scotland has devised a 3-step process that can be used when making any decision.
It is simple, easy to follow and can be put into practice almost immediately.
The one-day course not only gives you the skills you need to put this into practice, it also breaks down historic decisions into the 3 key steps to allow candidates to fully understand the concept.
I would like you to consider the following questions.
Do you think your company would benefit from its key staff being trained to consistently make better decisions?
Do you think you would achieve more if you could consistently make better decisions?
Do you want to find out more about our unique decision-making training?
Would you like a free 30-minute coaching session on how to make better decisions?
Below are some facts and figures that I would like you to consider.
Accidents in the Maritime Industry.
Studies have shown that human error contributes to 89-96% of collisions - Source U.S. Coast Guard Research & Development Center.
Pilot error is the leading cause of commercial airline accidents, with close to 80% percent of accidents caused by pilot error, according to Boeing.
Analysis of accidents and incidents shows that human failure contributes to almost all accidents and exposures to substances hazardous to health. Source HSE.
New data shows that 94% of US car accidents are caused by human error.
Source -the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
If we look at these sectors collectively, we will probably find that the initial and ongoing training and Health and Safety legislation has never been greater.
Since their first induction to their continual assessments, employees have had to go through more and more training and development to make them as safe as possible when they are at work.
This is not only to protect the employees, but also to protect the employer if an accident happens.
HSE statistics show that workplace accidents have broadly stayed the same over the last 5 years, even though the level of training and ongoing assessment of competence has increased.
It looks like employees are receiving more and more training but are still having the same amount of injuries!
My new approach is to replace the phrase "human error" with the more accurate description of "bad decisions".
Human error equates to someone deciding on the wrong course of action and I can almost guarantee that most of these people have not been trained on how to consistently make better decisions.
My approach is simple- most accidents are caused by bad decisions so we train people to make better decisions and this will help to reduce accidents.
The whole concept gets people to look at injuries as the result of a bad decision and this may at first be uncomfortable for individuals who may be reluctant to accept this. Unfortunate accidents are easier to accept than people actually being responsible for what happened due to the bad decisions that they made.
My philosophy is that if you want people to improve in a certain area, you should train them. Decision making is no different from any other skill in this respect.
The other factor in this training is that it compliments existing health and Safety training that the employees will have received. I sometimes feel that the mere mention of Health and Safety training can cause some people to become disinterested.
A decision-making course that is designed to reduce accidents and equips people with the skills to immediately apply the learning to historical decisions as well as any future decisions sounds much more interesting.
The final point is that the 3-step decision making process is not just designed to prevent accidents- it can also be used to make better decisions in other areas as well.
Imagine the value of having a workforce that can apply this process to help reduce accidents and injuries. This alone would make the training worthwhile, but the fact that it gives employees a template that they can use in all decisions, makes it even more beneficial.
I hope this article has got people thinking about accidents, injuries and possible reduction measures and if you decide that you would like more information on this unique approach, please visit www.staarsscotland.co.uk or email email@example.com .
Any comments or opinions on this approach would be greatly appreciated.