My 28th Explosion Anniversary…

From Physical Safety to Psychological Safety

At this time, 28 years ago, I was lying in the intensive care unit of the Gladstone Hospital, with most of the top layers of my skin blown off my hands and face. I was in the most excruciating pain I have (and will ever) experienced and was trying to understand what the heck had happened and why I was lying in intensive care looking like a French fry. 

Yes, it was only second-degree burns. Yes, I only spent two days in intensive care, before spending about five weeks in the burn’s unit in Brisbane. Having my skin forcibly removed … every morning … by the most caring and compassionate nurses. Burns unit nurses are really the best there is. They see and treat the worst of injuries, and deal with death and decapitation on a regular basis. 

Burns are a horrible injury. And that is something I hope I never go through again. Ever.  

It took me about five weeks to recover and get out of hospital. I say that I was doing a five-minute job, trying to save five minutes, and I went home about five weeks later … And that was the crazy part about it. There really was no need to rush it. I had time, and the tradesperson working with me was certainly not pushing or trying to get the job done more quickly. 

This was purely a personal or physical safety issue. Make a bad decision – which I did – nearly get killed – which I did. Suffer emotionally for the next 10 years, trying to unpack why it happened. And why to me – which I did. I was angry with the world for a while. Until I took responsibility and ownership for the incident. My decision, my actions, my consequences.  

About 10 years after the incident, once I had got my head around it, I decided to talk more about it (I couldn’t talk about for 10 years, it made me to upset, and brought back painful skin removal memories). And memories of having someone take care of your hygiene for you (I couldn’t use my hands).  

Three things happened – firstly, my wife and boys and I moved back to Gladstone (we worked around Australia for that first 10 years) and when I got back, people wanted to know how I was. I couldn’t avoid it anymore. Then, I was employed on a site where the induction involved watching the movie ‘Remember Charlie’. I was moved. His story touched my heart. Then, I got the chance to run a safety meeting. And to tell my story. Like Charlie did. And it was well received. 

So, I quit my job, and became a speaker … much to my lovely wife’s disgust. I was not acting like an adult, apparently. I do now, though, which is good. Love you, Mrs G. 

Then, after telling my story around the country and overseas, leaders started asking about how to keep their teams safe. My work went from safety to leadership. And safety leadership. And it has been that journey that has helped me to really unpack what drives people to do what they do, and how leaders can lead under pressure, with conscious control. 

Leadership training and consulting has seen me finish a Business Degree in HR and a Science Degree in Psychology. It has seen me author five books and read more books than I could count. And most importantly, I have worked with leaders and a range of industries, everywhere to help them create high performing and connected teams. 

And my life has moved from personal and physical safety to psychological safety, the phrase that Amy Edmondson started to make famous in about the year 2000. Then, in 2012 – 2014, the internal project (Aristotle) found that psychological safety was the main reason that Google was able to create such highly effective teams. Since then, several books have been written on the topic, by Timothy Clark, Dan Radecki, and in 2019, Clive Lloyd (titled Next Generation Safety Leadership). In short, psychological safety is about making it ok for people to share their ideas and opinions without the fear or ridicule, resentment, or rejection.  

Personally, not only learning about psychology, but learning about psychological safety, has been the most intriguing and enlightening thing I have ever done. To be able to share with leaders what a psychologically safe team looks and feels like has been next level. My work has transitioned from leadership consulting, that was focused on the process of leadership, to now, work that is focused on the people side of leadership, on a deeper level. 

With a distinct focus on leadership under pressure – because it is during boom events (crises) that leaders need to be create conscious control, and really lean into care factor and courageous leadership. My work is emotion centred, and people focused, and helps leaders understand why people, and psychologically safe teams, should be … really … their highest priority. 

After 28 years, from an Electrician getting blown up by a switch board, to working out that physical safety keeps people alive, and that psychological safety keeps teams alive (and helps them thrive), here we are.  

Living the dream.  

And ready to do my 14th straight Mooloolaba Triathlon this weekend. Bring that on. 

And please click the image below if you’d like to chat about what leadership means to you.

If you would like to learn more about Anton or The Guinea Group, please click hereto book into Anton’s calendar, to:

UPGRADE your Mindset
UPSKILL your Leadership
UPLIFT your Teams

About Anton

Anton has dedicated his working life to helping leaders to upgrade their mindset, upskill their leadership, and uplift their teams! With a focus on helps leaders to better lead under pressure. Anton is an entrepreneur, speaker, consultant, bestselling author and founder of The Guinea Group. Over the past 19 years, Anton has worked with over 175+ global organisations, he has inspired workplace leadership, safety, and cultural change. He’s achieved this by combining his corporate expertise, education (Bachelor of HR and Psychology), and infectious energy levels.
Work With Anton!

Subscribe to our Newsletter