Years ago, around the campfire, I heard this story and have told it to every troop of which I have been a Scoutmaster.
Two brothers were leaving the town they had lived in for several years. They were both moving to a new town many miles away. They left on their journey at different times as one of the brothers had to complete some work in their old town before leaving.
The first brother was walking and as he approached the outskirts of town he met an old man sitting under a tree by the side of the road. He joined the man in the shade of the tree and asked about the people in the town into which he was about to move. "Tell me what are the people like here?" he asked. The old man answered with a question, "What were the people like in the town you just left?" The first brother said, "They weren't the greatest group of people. They were always negative and complained about everything. You could never count on them; they never offered to help. They didn't treat people very nicely. They seemed to talk bad about people whenever you had a discussion with them. In general, I'm glad to be leaving them behind."
The old man replied, "That's too bad. You are going to find the people in this town are pretty much the same."
The first brother looked down in disgust and shuffled off without a comment.
The next day, the second brother arrived at the same tree and the old man was there once again. He walked under the shade of the tree and smiled at the old man. He then said, "Tell me, what are the people like here?" The old man answered with a question, "What were the people like in the town you just left?" The second brother said, "They were great. I really am going to miss them. They always looked at the positive in life and no matter how bad the situation they never seemed to complain. They would always greet you by name and with a big smile. It was wonderful; you never had to ask for help because everyone was very helpful. It was a great town with great people."
The old man replied, "That's great. You are going to find the people in this town are pretty much the same."
The second brother asked the old man what his name was and thanked him for the information. He headed into town with an optimistic smile looking forward to meeting more new friends.
The lesson of the story is people are a reflection of you. If you approach people with a positive attitude and a smile they do the same.
The safety lesson of the story
We need to expect safe behaviors from employees. When we expect them to embrace safety we tend to get that result. When we expect resistance we tend to find resistance. Ask yourself what your expectations of your people are; they will often live up to them. People can sense your attitude in the tone of your voice and your physiology, in addition to your words.
Until next week,
I'll be, "Watching Out For Everyone's Safety™"