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“Don’t be content with things as they are. The earth is yours and the fulness thereof. Enter upon your inheritance, accept your responsibilities.”

— Winston Churchill (author, British Prime Minister)

Whilst remembrance is, first and foremost, a chance to mourn and mend, it is so much more. Remembrance ensures that, when the last of those involved in the event have left us, a timeless opportunity remains.

When ceremonies can’t be attended, they can be recorded. The sorrow that connects us can cross our screens, even if that same sorrow cannot be consoled in a physical embrace.

It’s not all melancholy. The lowered heads, the silence fallen, the singular tear, the brass salute — it all carries thanks as well as lament. Whatever is being commemorated, whether it’s painful to you or passive, whether you agree with the story behind the statues or not, there is a privilege for which to be grateful. …

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“If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try.”

— Seth Godin (author, marketer, teacher)

Around 4 hours per day.

That’s the average amount of time that we are strapped to a smartphone, scrolling through our screens. And here comes the inevitable projection:

4 hours per day is 28 hours per week, or 112 hours per month.

We all know (nay, convince ourselves of) the pros. These devices connect us and make the world smaller. A social media introduction might just melt the edges of an otherwise cringeworthy meeting in real-life. I’ve been there. I’ve benefitted.

But now look yourself in the mirror. Stare hard. Can you sell the story to yourself? Was it worth trading 1,344 hours of your life last year, just to post a note that will die in less time than it took to write? …

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This article was originally published in the October 2020 edition of The Chemical Engineer magazine. As part of Marc’s work at Pre-Site Safety, the article also appears in episode 5 of the Pre-Site Podcast. You can listen along with the YouTube version below.

In the autumn of 2011, a light wind carried my father’s ashes from my fingertips into the sea. It was the cold, bitter end to a long battle waged against his post-traumatic stress. Long before alcohol claimed him, my late father had survived one of the worst process safety disasters the world has ever known. On 6 July 1988, over 20 years before his death, he was working aboard the Piper Alpha oil rig when it exploded in the North Sea. The accident killed 167 men and left just 61 survivors. …

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“How pleasant is the sound of even bad music and bad motives when we are setting out to march against an enemy!”

— Friedrich Nietzsche (German philosopher)

Diversity of thought is good for innovation, but game-changing ideas don’t come by adhering unwaveringly to one train of thought. Here is why you should never lose the ability to march away from the beat of the drums.

A Familiar Taboo?

How familiar does the following situation sound to you? A sizeable group of people — some whom you know, others you don’t — regularly and vehemently reinforce a particular opinion. They tweet, and hashtag, and speak, and profess, and it all seems eminently valiant. Their individual voices harmonise. Hell, sometimes you even so from the same hymn sheet, just to enjoy the feeling of be counted. But something about all of this itches at your ear. You know from your own reading that something in what this group is playing collectively isn’t quite right. So righteous is the movement, however, that you relegate your uncomfortable judgement to the ranks of silent taboo. You say nothing. …

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“One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision.”

— Bertrand Russell (British philosopher)

It’s hard to know where to turn for reliable guidance. The Information Age makes every day a new baptism in the fire of bits and bytes. Trust is scarce, and conviction is in suspicious plenty. What, then, of the ethereal concept of Leadership?

I started this blog in the summer of 2018, amidst a series of life changes, all the while navigating the parallel privilege of leadership in research. The blog was, and still is, an open diary; a necessarily selfish quest to pour out and organise the thoughts of an incessant over-thinker. But in this position of uncertain leadership, there is something to give. At a time when researchers are calling out for modern, empathetic leaders, I think there is value in showing that leaders don’t have all the answers. …

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If you don’t like the current arc in the story of you, what would you rather it be?

Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson (American essayist and philosopher)

Macabre walks through graveyards help peel away the stress from our mortal coil. The stories on gravestones can urge us to rewrite our own story before it’s too late.

Kirkoswald is a tiny unassuming village on Scotland’s rugged southwest coast. With a population in the low hundreds, a single restaurant, and sole cab driver, Kirkoswald doesn’t exactly sell itself as a place to inspire life-affirming revelations. …

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A grainy frame from a video depicting a massive chemical explosion in Jiangsu, China.

A steady camera captures the flicker of a distant fire. From the cameraman’s view over an industrial landscape, the fire looks more like a candle than the truth. Scattered bursts of confused conversation fill the muffled soundtrack of the camera’s recording. Twenty-two seconds after the recording begins, the seedling of fire flashes, like lightning, into a mushroom of red and black. The shock is clear as the cameraman’s once steady footage now trembles uncontrollably. Thirty seconds in, the distance from danger shrinks to nothing when the ground roars and the windows shatter in front of the camera. The low-pitched murmurs of bewildered chat turn to high-pitched yelps of fear. The footage blurs as the cameraman and his colleagues run for their lives. They stand together, all dressed in hazard suits and hard hats. Behind yellow muster point lines, they await their fate. Just thirty-nine seconds have passed. The video stops. …


Dr Marc Reid

PhD Chemist | Research Leader & Safety Entrepreneur

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