February 18, 2023

Unlock the Ability: See the Risks Others Miss

Play Chess When it Comes to Health and Safety

Unlock the Power: See the Risks Others Miss

Imagine having the ability to spot risks before they become a problem. Picture yourself walking into a room and immediately recognizing the dangers that others overlook. It may seem impossible, but it’s not. Your brain has the incredible capacity to filter out unnecessary information and focus on what truly matters.

This powerful filtering system is known as the reticular activating system (RAS). It acts as a gateway between external stimuli and cognition, determining what you perceive and what you ignore. By training your RAS, you can harness its potential to enhance your awareness and help others recognize risk.

Consider this: new workers are often more attuned to hazards because they haven’t yet developed complacency towards them. However, without training their RAS to see these risks, they may still overlook them. Even experienced workers can become complacent and filter out low-probability risks, falsely believing they are safe.

But here’s the good news: you can retrain your brain to see what matters. Just like a mother wakes up to her baby’s cry or a father learns to ignore a dog’s bark, you can consciously shape your RAS to focus on safety. It’s a continuous process, but a worthwhile one.

Think about it – how has your perception of risk changed over time? You have already retrained your RAS without even realizing it. Now imagine what you can achieve by purposefully adopting a three-step approach to retraining your brain.

Don’t let potential dangers slip through the cracks. Take control of your awareness. Start training your RAS today and unlock the power of your brain to see the risks others miss.

Step 1: Focus on Transformational Opportunities for Success

To retrain someone’s subconscious filtering mechanism, concentrate on a few elements at a time. According to Dr. John J. Medina, our brains can only hold about seven pieces of information for less than 30 seconds. To extend this timeframe, consistently expose yourself to the information. Select a few elements within a category, or create a master list of risks and analyze incident data against it. This approach yields early wins and ensures the retraining focuses on transformational opportunities.

Step 2: Embrace Multiple Learning and Sensory Styles

Consider different learning styles when retraining. The VARK Inventory helps determine an individual’s preference for taking in and processing information. Rather than focusing on one dominant style, leverage all of them to create a detailed and dynamic learning experience. This stimulates the reticular activating system (RAS) to identify stimuli in real-world settings.

Step 3: Integrate Culture and Systems for Sustainable Results

Training alone is not enough to maintain gains. Sustainability requires integrating culture and systems. Positive reinforcement within peer groups and organizational systems is crucial. Assess your organization to identify communication channels and leverage them to embed the targeted RAS focus points. Additionally, align formal and informal systems to support the training, rather than creating friction. This multi-pronged approach ensures the development of new habits and a successful change initiative.

Empower Others with Risk Identification

Retraining the reticular activating system not only benefits individuals in their work settings but also in their daily lives. Subconsciously scanning for risks, like checking for vehicle traffic, becomes a habit that enhances safety. Helping individuals better recognize personal risk exposure extends beyond work safety. By empowering them to identify risks, we create a positive impact on their overall well-being.