You’ve heard the term “obsessive compulsive,” haven’t you?
It’s a psychological term used to describe people who have an extreme desire to keep everything in order. There is a sense of perfectionism about them.
More commonly, we use “obsessive compulsive” to describe people who have a greater desire for order than we do. So, the sloppier you are, the more likely you are to call others obsessive compulsive. If you are wondering, no one has ever accused me of being obsessive compulsive. Which, therefore, speaks to my leaning toward “going with the flow” or “winging it.” All of which is another story.
I was speaking with a friend the other day and we were comparing notes about our kids. He told me that his son had landed a job as a jet airplane mechanic. “He is very happy with the job,” said my friend. “It matches up well with his obsessive compulsive tendencies.”
As a guy who gets on a jet airplane quite a bit, I found myself thinking, “Thank you, God, for jet mechanics with obsessive compulsive tendencies.”
Jet mechanics are compulsive because the stakes are so high. Failure to tighten the right bolt, repair the right gasket, remove all the tools – all of those kinds of things – can result in death and damage that is unmanageable. So, if they aren’t compulsive to start their career, I am sure they really learn the value of it by observing those who are.
Safety needs to be our compulsion as well. In our work, it is easy to take your foot off the pedal and coast a bit. When we do that on the safety front, it is the first action toward getting someone hurt. Probably you.
So, do a test today. When is the last time someone called you “obsessive compulsive?” If you are not one of those people, this note is for you. Be careful out there. Tie up the details of safety. Wear your gear. Observe lockout tagout procedures. Don’t take any shortcuts. Pay attention when the machines are running. Lives change when we get sloppy with safety.
PalletOne CEO Howe Wallace
Since 2005, he has been sharing his thoughts on the organization, leadership, and communication in an online daily note to teammates called Daily with HQ.