FranklinCovey Consultant Blogs | Todd Wangsgard | Lethal Chemicals
This was my neighbor’s three-story house. It exploded and burned to the ground last Saturday. It was gone in less than an hour.
The man living here (…uh, who lived here) had a hobby of manufacturing homemade fireworks – the really big ones. He was home alone the morning of this tragedy and in the process of drilling a mortar in his basement shop when sparks began to fly. A small explosion erupted in his hands; he quickly escaped the house with minor injuries. It only took seconds for the small fire to spread to the stock pile of chemicals that he kept nearby. One explosion led to another and soon the house was quite literally gone.
By all accounts this was an accident, but certainly one that could have been prevented. It is not the first time something has gone awry while engaged in this hobby. Family members claimed on the evening news that this risky activity has been going on for decades. They claim smaller explosions in the past did not serve as the deterrent that they should have.
This wake up call for family, the local authorities, and the neighborhood got me thinking about some of the less obvious risks that we may be taking that jeopardize our livelihood in different ways.
Are there relationships I’m neglecting or mistreating that could someday “blow up” in my face. Are there habits in my professional practice that are leading me down a volatile path – less obvious patterns, such as not following up with my clients as thoroughly as I could, not keeping abreast of my industry’s latest thinking and research, or not proactively contributing to my division in ways that demonstrate initiative and make a meaningful contribution? Sure, these are acts of omission, rather than committing an overt act of mixing lethal chemicals in my basement. But the result can be just as serious and lasting.
In an economy that still appears to be limping along toward recovery, each of us should conduct a career “safety inspection” – ensure that the batteries in our smoke detectors are fresh, review all of the “exits,” and train those we care about on how to recognize behavior that might compromise one’s security. Professionally this can come in the form of soliciting valuable feedback from co-workers and clients, keeping your resume polished and poised, and seeking out creative ways to make a new and lasting contribution in the workplace. Consider adopting the timely advice shared by Dr. Stephen R. Covey and Jennifer Colosimo in their recent publication, Great Work, Great Career.
There’s no need to let your career go up in smoke!