Construction Safety: Inspiring Workers Through Leadership & Action

Construction safety is an issue important to Chad Hyams’ heart. Twenty years ago, Chad’s life was changed forever when a 2,800 pound bale of hay fell on him, shattering his neck and leaving him a quadriplegic. Devastating as this was, Chad dedicated his life to being an advocate for safety, especially on construction sites.

In today’s podcast, Chad joins host Mike Merrill to discuss the right mentalities for a culture of safety, how to prepare for the inevitable and how to respond to failure.

 

Key Takeaways:

  1. The right mindset will increase safety. Safety managers and leaders often have the mindset of “If X happens we will do Y.” For example, you need to be out of the way of the payload falling if a crane fails to avoid injury. However, it’s more beneficial to have a mentality of “When X happens then Y.” So, remain out of the way of any crane payload to avoid injury when a crane fails. By changing from if to a when, then nothing should surprise the job site. 
  2. Just because you’ve gotten away with shortcuts doesn’t make it right. We live in a world where things can go right when they should go wrong and wrong when they should go right. Doing the safe and right thing is important even if nothing happened the last time a protocol was missed or forgotten. Remember those warnings and rules are there for a reason.
  3. Have a 24-hour safety mindset. Safety doesn’t stop when you are off the job site. Having a 24 hour safety mindset means practicing what you are required to do on the job site but in every situation in your life. For example, if you are taught to wear safety glasses at the job site when using power tools, then do the same when you’re using power tools at home. The majority of accidents happen at home or the office – the potential for injury is everywhere, so it’s up to you to be aware and take the steps to ensure something avoidable doesn’t happen wherever you are.

 

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Episode Transcript:

Mike Merrill:

Hello and welcome to the Mobile Workforce Podcast. I am the host Mike Merrill and we are sitting down today with the renowned Chad Hymas. Chad is a speaker on both leadership and safety and before we jump in too deep into the conversation with Chad directly, I just wanted to share a little bit about his background.

For starters, safety’s very important and near to Chad’s heart of course because at the age of 27 his life changed in an instant when a 2800 pound bale of hay shattered his neck, leaving him a quadriplegic and devastating as it was, Chad dedicated his life to being an example of what is possible despite and challenges that we may face.

Chad’s also a bestselling author and a recognized world class wheelchair athlete. In fact, just two years after Chad’s accident he would set a world record by wheeling his chair by hand from Salt Lake City, Utah to Las Vegas, Nevada for a 513 mile trip. So, today Chad continues to inspire and travel around the world and the globe and also has put on about 300,000 miles per year in his travels. Chad has spoken to companies such as American Express, Rain Bird, Wells Fargo, Blue Cross and Blue Shield just to name a few. In today’s episode we’re going to discuss three of Chad’s favorite topics. Inspirational leadership, safety and self accountability and how each of these are important for the construction industry.

Hello Chad and welcome to the podcast today.

Chad Hymas:

Hey. You forgot to tell them that you and I have known each other for long before that. I’m just saying, we spent a couple years in Bangkok together. So… Right?

Mike Merrill:

We sure did. Chad and I were missionaries together over 25 years ago. So, long time ago. Many moons, right?

Chad Hymas:

Very, very, very fair to say.

Mike Merrill:

I will say too before we get into the conversation, Chad was a great leader and an inspiration and a great example to me even back then. So, I…

Chad Hymas:

It’s amazing what you can do with the power of delegation.

Mike Merrill:

Well, I remember you well from that time and look forward to the conversation today.

Chad Hymas:

Great. Sounds good.

Mike Merrill:

So, Chad why don’t you give us a little bit about your background? Of course, I know you do have some construction in your background, which is interesting.

Chad Hymas:

Yeah.

Mike Merrill:

What can you tell us about that?

Chad Hymas:

Yeah, construction really is my forte. I did that when I was in high school as a part time job and then in the summer time when there was a guy in my church that had a construction company so in the summer time I would work full time for him. Then I loved going up and helping my uncle with my dad. We’d help my uncle run the farm. So, the dream was always to be a guide, be a hunting guide, have a ranch and raise elk and release them in the rocky mountains and guide people to get close to those animals, whether they shoot or not. With a camera, I don’t care what they shoot with, I just… I’ve always wanted to get people close to elk.

Chad Hymas:

When I came home from Thailand ironically I didn’t have the money to start that dream so I started construction and it is dear to my heart. So, I grew up from one person, myself, to 52 employees and I broke my neck six years into that while skipping a pre-op. So, that’s why safety is dear to me for sure. I told my guys one thing, I went out in the field and I did the opposite. So, it’s very, very passionate to me and it’s something that I share a lot when I’m going in and doing safety coaching or safety training on some of those principles. But yeah, aside from that background, Shondell and I live just outside of Salt Lake City in the Stansbury Mountains. We have four children. Two are biological, they were born before the accident, both boys. Ace is 23, Kyler’s 21. Then after the accident there was about a seven year gap and we adopted a little girl from Mexico. Her name is Gracie. She’s a junior in high school and Caleb we’ve had for just three and a half, maybe I guess now four years. We got him when he was eight and he’s now 12. We got him from Ethiopia. Beautiful dark little boy. So, our family’s quite diverse.

Mike Merrill:

That’s awesome and it sounds like you are living life to the fullest.

Chad Hymas:

We’re taking it day by day.

Mike Merrill:

Good for you. Well, thank you again for joining us today. We’re really excited to have you on and I think just to start off in relation to safety, where do your presentations usually start? What’s the first thing you usually talk about?

Chad Hymas:

I love to… There’s several different ways to start a presentation or to start. Really I want to be interactive and engaged. I love to get to know people depending on how large the group is, but one of the things that I think is a mistake in safety, especially in construction is we measure safety due to regulations, whether it’s OSHA MSHA, retroactively and not proactively. In other words, we’re going to count lost time, first-aid recordables, light duties. We’ll count near hits, near misses although that’s more proactive than reactive, and we’ll count fatal injuries. That’s retrospect. I think a better way to indicate how well we’re doing safety proactively to prevent those accidents is to count really something we learned in Bangkok. How many touches are we doing a day? How many contacts are we making? How many times are we stopping a job to look around and see not if anything’s wrong, just what’s going on? What are we doing today? And allow other people to speak other than the supervisor or the foreman. Allow people to speak up and share their mind and have that openness where people feel that comfortable that when they know when something comes up they can stop work without reprimand or without fearing that they’re going to lose their job. So, I like to start, that’s one way to start. Right there. So, proactive measurement versus reactive measurement. So, instead of counting numbers, count assists. Count how many touches.

Chad Hymas:

Another thing I like to ask people is what’s our greatest asset at B&B Construction? Every time I ask that question what’s the answer going to be Mike? Every time I ask what’s our greatest asset? By the way, as I pulled up today in your guys’s yard I noticed that there’s a lot of cranes, a lot of semi-trucks. Your guys’s logos are on everything. Looks like you guys are worth hundreds of millions of dollars. What’s your greatest asset? What do they always say?

Mike Merrill:

Well, I think it’s the people but they might say their equipment. I’m not sure.

Chad Hymas:

Well, they’d say the same thing. They’d say their people and then I ask them this, how many of their people did they send home maned, injured, dissatisfied, unhappy or stressed? How many of them can answer that question for me?

Mike Merrill:

That’s a great question. Probably not very many.

Chad Hymas:

Not very many. Then I ask them this, if you were missing $500 on your paycheck next pay period, would you know it? What’s your answer?

Mike Merrill:

Absolutely.

Chad Hymas:

Do you see the… Do you see the… Do you seem the… We say one thing in safety meetings and that’s why it comes across as lip service. We say one thing, we know we’re worth millions of dollars but we don’t live it. So, I’m guilty of that. That’s why I’m… I’m guilty. I measured safety retroactively. I told my guys what to do. Then as the boss I went out and did the opposite in the field. Now you know why I take those two things very, very seriously. Right there, the way that we start right there, is the way that we lead and guide and gain influence and also the way that we’re measuring safety. I think that’s a great way to start. I’ll usually start with a fun story just to get them engaged and realize this is going to be a different meeting than any other meeting they’ve ever had. So, I mean, this is not a lecture. I want to be interactive but yeah, those are some questions that I’ll normally start off with. Right there.

Mike Merrill:

Yeah. So, I talked at the intro a little bit about what happened, your accident, but can you share just a little bit more detail with what happened?

Chad Hymas:

Yeah. Sure. It was April 3rd. I’ll have to take it back 21 years, April 3rd. We just celebrated 21 years last month. It was a Tuesday morning. I left the ranch heading to work and I got a phone call around 11 or 12 from Shondell, my wife, telling me that our youngest son at the time, who was just turning one, had just taken his first two steps and she asked me to hurry home from work to see if I could play some ball with both boys out in the garage and maybe we could play some two on two. I told Shondell that I would hurry but I had to stop by the field first to feed the elk. So, my dream again is contractor by day, farmer by night. I was really trying to build that dream and grow that ranch and working hard at that effort.

Chad Hymas:

I raced home after getting all 52 guys lined up. I got all seven crews of eight with a little bit of math in there, there’s an odd crew in there but got all seven crews lined up, headed back to the ranch and I decided to stop by and feed the animals first so that I wouldn’t have to go back out that night. I got on a tractor, something that I do routinely every day. I loaded a bale of hay that weighs more than most vehicles that are outside a parking lot, more than an SUV. I lifted the bale up 15 feet and that’s when I had a problem Mike. I saw a red light flashing on my dash, which is simply an indicator that something was malfunctioning and it told me exactly what the problem was. My tractor was low on hydraulics. I ignored that indicator because I had gotten away with it before and I was in a hurry and I had never gotten caught before. So, there’s a message right there for our contracts that are listening. Just because you don’t get caught doing something you know to be wrong or something you’ve been doing as habitual or I don’t like to use the word complacency in safety just because it’s a word that’s used in every single safety meeting, it’s overused, but just because we don’t get caught doing something that becomes habit makes it right.

Chad Hymas:

I’m guilty of that as well. I’d never been caught before, I kept pushing the lever, I tapped the brakes too hard while in reverse and that big heavy load suspended in the air, rolled over backwards, it landed on my body, punched my head through the steering wheel and a shaft is what went through my mouth breaking… This has all been redone and it broke all the bones in my neck and it severed 95% of my spinal cord. So, today I do push a chair. It’s a four pound chair but my hands are paralyzed, I’m obviously sitting. I’m in the office here just for a little bit this afternoon. I’m numb from the armpits to the toes. I lost a midsection. I lost all stomach muscles. The only thing that’s keeping me upright is the way that my chair is contorted for me to stay balanced. The torso’s what keeps your body balanced when you’re sitting freestyle. I lost two out of my three chest muscles. The chest muscle that I do have is called the diaphragm, which allows me to breathe with no trache. Took me a while to figure that one out and to gain that back. I lost everything from the elbow to the fingertip on both sides. The movement that you’re seeing is strictly shoulders and everything from the armpit and above I can feel and that’s where my new life was to begin.

Mike Merrill:

Wow. That’s a lot. A lot. You probably still remember it like it was yesterday, but wish you could forget.

Chad Hymas:

Sure. Yeah, I never lost consciousness until I went in for surgery and then I was asked to count backwards from eight and… everything is as if it happened yesterday for sure. A lot of that’s due to writing books and talking about it on a regular basis and Shondell and I both journalized what happened that day and henceforth as well, not just that day but the progress that we’ve tried to make and the digression as well, because you can only measure progress by digression. The best place to start is when you lose something. Consistency compounds and so we also measure days that are bad as well.

Mike Merrill:

Yeah. What a testament to the importance of safety and how things can literally change in an instant.

Chad Hymas:

Sure.

Mike Merrill:

So, with your initiatives I’ve seen on your website and some of the things you’ve spoken about, you’ve got a couple of terms, zero zone and roll with safety initiatives. What are those and how do they relate?

Chad Hymas:

I like to use the… The capacity model is another one. Those all tie in well. Zero zone, roll with safety, they tie in to something that we use a lot with a client of ours called a capacity model and it’s really just… It allows people to learn in the workplace. I’m not asking people to do what everybody else does in their safety program and go to work and have no blood although that’s the goal.

Mike Merrill:

Right.

Chad Hymas:

The capacity model, roll with safety, those terms that you just identified, it allows people to fail without getting injured. In other words, we realize that people make mistakes. We don’t hire perfect people, there’s no such thing. So, the first principle of several that we teach is that people are fallible. They make mistakes and that’s okay. Now how can we fail and do without damaging anybody or putting people in the hospital or creating a severe injury? So, that takes… Those go into other principles and then those principles, a few of them are management’s response to failure matters. Right? How managers response to failure, it dictates how people react, whether they’re afraid or they feel confident in themselves that they can speak up and share a near hit, near miss. That’s one of them.

The fact that work is simply a tool for learning strategy. That’s all work is. It’s a tool for growth. Everybody gets old Mike. Growth must be intentional. So, I mean, everybody’s going to get gray hair or bald like you and me but growth must be intentional. So, the capacity model should be a company that allows people to grow while at work. It doesn’t necessarily mean a pay raise every week or pay raise every month or every year. I don’t get into that. But it’s an environment where people spend most of their time if we’re not counting the hours that they sleep, it allows them to grow. If we’re not sending our people home with that kind of an opportunity then we’re doing them a disservice. So, that’s really what safety is in a nutshell.

Mike Merrill:

Yeah, and it sounds like you’re talking about providing a safety culture or creating one. Would that be accurate?

Chad Hymas:

Sure. Or enhancing one. I mean, it is behave… There is behavior based involved and everybody teaches a behavior based safety program. I’m not against those, but a lot of times those BBC programs, they don’t allow people for that growth. They just say hey, we went 364 days without a lost time recordable. If we’ve done it this long we can surely do another day. I’m not saying that’s a bad way to teach people but it gives people very little room for error in a safe manner. Right? We can err in a safe manner. We can have. It’s called controls. We can have controls in place.

Chad Hymas:

So, instead of going to work and identifying the hazards, go to work… Instead of saying if it’s going to happen. If the bale of hay’s going to fall over. It’s when’s it going to happen. Now it puts that mindset into putting controls in place. Right? It’s not if we’re going to get in a car crash. When are we going to get in a car crash and now we’ve got the safety belt on. We have controls in place, we’re driving the speed limit. So, instead of asking and doing safety meetings asking the question if, always say when. When is the bale of hay going to fall? When’s the suspended load going to happen? When’s the flat tire going to happen? When’s the crane going to be lifting too much weight? Then there are controls put in place in advance that will help people fail safety without injury. So, two different way to approach questions. I hate asking the question if. Never start a safety seminar or a safety share with something that begins with the word if. It’s when’s it going to happen? Then that allows us to start identifying controls that we can put in place.

Mike Merrill:

Yeah. When’s a good word because it is inevitable that there are going to be issues. 

Chad Hymas:

Right. For sure.

Mike Merrill:

For certain. So, what are some of the more common mistakes that you see people making that jeopardize that safety on site?

Chad Hymas:

I think a lot of common mistakes really just are just… They’re common sense mistakes. They’re lack of awareness. A lot of them are ignorant. Now, one of the things that we talk about when we talk about the capacity model or talk about roll with safety or the zero zone is that not do we just allow people to fail but we allow people to recognize when they fail and we allow them to share it openly so they feel like they can do that in a very real way. We recognize that people are not malicious.

Chad Hymas:

So, when you talk about mistakes, what are some of the common mistakes, whatever the mistake is, we don’t believe that people are coming to work and we shouldn’t be hiring people to come to work that are trying to abuse the system, get unemployment, right, workers comp, that we’re hiring competent people that want to contribute to our workforce and we believe that. So, we share that. That’s principle number four. People are not malicious. I’m not saying all people, but we believe that as a company. Right? When I go talk to a company like Okland Construction or whatever the construction company might be, that we believe that we are hiring family and that we want to integrate them and that people aren’t trying to jeopardize or hurt our family. That we’re here to have a great impact on those that are around us and again, the work environment impacts everybody else around us.

Mike Merrill:

Yeah. You were mentioning… I watched a talk that you gave to Utah a while back and you were talking about the portion of our time in our life that we spend with these people at work, to the right and left. It’s as much or more than we spend with our family.

Chad Hymas:

It’s more than, yeah. I mean, if you want to count a 30 day time frame and not count the hours that you spend sleeping, most of our time is spent at the workplace. All the more reason for us to send them home not the way they came to work, everybody does that, that’s called the replaceable company. That’s called me looking for another job. Much easier for me to train people and keep the same employees and make them feel like they’re wanted, make them feel like they’re needed, than it is for me to go hire another employee. So, again, it’s providing those resources to send them home better, safer, happier, healthier, because if we don’t do that the people that bare the burden are the ones that they go home to. If our listeners don’t believe me, just try it.

Mike Merrill:

Yeah.

Chad Hymas:

Go home tonight upset, watch what your family does.

Mike Merrill:

Yeah, great advice. You also talk a lot about having a 24 hour mindset as it relates to safety. What does that mean?

Chad Hymas:

I think it’s shared a lot in safety meetings. It’s we really… I mean, I’m a prime example of saying it with my mouth and not living it. I think all of us, to one extent or another, whatever end of the spectrum we’re on, we’re all guilty of that in some form of our life or at least at one time or another. A 24 hour mindset is really practicing what we are taught at work as it pertains to safety, at home. So, if we’re taught to wear safety glasses at work, I think we should try and wear them at home when we’re mowing the lawn. That’s a common one that’s used. Again, probably a little… Deer in the headlights is another one that’s used way overkill, but it’s really living it and it’s living it 24/7.

Believe it or not, the majority of accidents that never get reported do take place at home, not at work and when you talk about work there’s a lot of accidents, more than you would think, that take place inside the office building, not in the warehouse or out in the field. So, this applies just as much to our admin, HR, people that are doing behind the scenes work that aren’t seen out in the field, as it does to those that are working out in the field.

Mike Merrill:

Yeah, that’s interesting you bring that up. We’ve had a few safety folks on the podcast so far and that point at least so far hadn’t been made so I love that you bring that up. What are common injuries that happen in the office environment that people need to be more aware of?

Chad Hymas:

Back strains, heavy lifting, moving boxes around. People slipping on stairs. A lot of slips, trips and falls. Again, simple, simple things that could be prevented if controls are in place. Not if, but when it’s going to happen. Then just not asking for help, or better yet, somebody not being aware and then saying hey, let me help you out with that. I think, again, that’s a… If somebody’s in the workplace or in the office and they’re asked to assist, like you and I are in the office right now and if we ask someone to help us, more often than not we’re going to get the help that we need.

Mike Merrill:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chad Hymas:

What about offering help and being in such a mindset and a state of mind that you see it proactively and so without any hesitation whatsoever you go up and you say hey, can I help you with that? Can I help you with that box? Chad, do you need help getting on the plane? We got you covered, whatever you need. Now we’re talking about people that become indispensable in a workplace. Not just safety, but you will keep people like that. We’ll fight to keep people like that. Why? Because not only do they keep people safe around them but everybody else has a positive attitude around them.

Chad Hymas:

Another example is when I travel. I don’t travel with my assistant, I don’t travel with a nurse or my wife or… I travel alone, but I don’t get up and walk on the plane. How does that work Mike?

Mike Merrill:

You got to have people help.

Chad Hymas:

And most of the time I don’t have to ask, and would you believe on some occasions the captain says whatever you need, I got you covered. Now, keep in mind captains are union.

Mike Merrill:

Right.

Chad Hymas:

Right there in their handbook it says that they’re to fly the plane and it’s very strict. It’s a very strict handbook. They’re not allowed to touch or work with passengers that are handicap. That’s left for other people to do. The other night, four nights ago, five. I landed in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, one o’clock in the morning. The people that are trained to help me get off the plane when you land in Harrisburg, they’re not there. They wanted to call the fire department to get me off that plane. That’s how stupid this was.

Mike Merrill:

Wow.

Chad Hymas:

I love what the captain said. He said buddy, what do you need? I got you covered. That’s all he said. I said you want to know what sir? Thanks for representing what four stripes actually is on your shoulder. Because there were four stripes. In other words, I’m not asking people to ignore policy and procedure. I’m just asking people to go with their heart. Go with their gut. It’s not hard to get me off a plane. There’s no training protocol. There’s no procedure. The truth is, if the plane lands in the water safely, what’s the captain going to do anyway? He’s going to help people get off the plane. We saw that happen in the Hudson a few years back.

Mike Merrill:

Yeah.

Chad Hymas:

Right? Don’t wait for the bus to tip over or the accident to take place before you change your mindset or your heart. Always go with your heart. You’ll make yourself indispensable and you can go to bed at peace at night realizing that you did what was the right thing. Regardless if you’re rejected or not, you went with your heart. I can sleep with that kind of a conscience and I think that other people can as well.

Mike Merrill:

Yeah, I love that and getting back to the concept of family, when mom comes home with the groceries or dad or whoever, the kids usually come and help or they’re expected to help or they’re asked to help or they should help.

Chad Hymas:

Sure.

Mike Merrill:

Our office environment should be similar where we’re mindful of people that might need assistance.

Chad Hymas:

Right. Yeah, no I think you’re right and I think a part of it is doing more than your job requires as a father, as a husband, as a parent, as a welder. Whatever. Anybody ought to be able to do their job. Doing more than their job, now you’re putting yourself in a place where you’re becoming indispensable in a very dispensable world.

Mike Merrill:

Yeah, and it goes back to service like you mentioned earlier and I think if we’re there to not only to help and do our part but serve, then we have a different attitude about all that anyway.

Chad Hymas:

Right.

Mike Merrill:

So, another thing on your website, you have some avian inspired tips or avian based on birds right. So, what are some of those and what can you explain and share about that?

Chad Hymas:

You mean just our daily beliefs and tips?

Mike Merrill:

Yeah.

Chad Hymas:

Those are just things that I come up with that as I read books or see things posted that I’ll make them relative to something that’s going on in my life. We’ve already mentioned a couple of them. I mean, but there’s thousands of them that I posted. I mean, it’s our daily belief. I put up a daily belief every day. Consistency allows compounds. Proactive versus reactive behavior. Don’t wait to lose something before you hold it sacred. I mean, these are just things that I have not just learned to come up with my own but I’ve also read and then I make them applicable to my life or they’ve inspired me to come up with my own version of how I can make that apply or I’ve listened to their podcast or heard other speakers mention those things but yeah, again, there’s thousands of them that we put out there on all different social media sites and they are things that I’m trying to live by. Haven’t perfected them, but trying to live by those.

Mike Merrill:

Yeah, you talked… One was success and the bird next door.

Chad Hymas:

Oh, so you’re talking about the topics of my talks. Yeah.

Mike Merrill:

Yeah.

Chad Hymas:

So, there’s some topics but I try and customize those topics but yeah, eagles don’t fly in flocks, seagulls never get lonely. I ask people when… That’s a leadership presentation where we’re asking people to really be different than everybody else and to really lead by being an influencer. Eagles are hard to find. Seagulls? Just walk out to the nearest asphalt and grab a McDonald’s french fry and throw it out there, seagulls start landing left and right. They’re a dime a dozen.

Mike Merrill:

Right.

Chad Hymas:

They’re everywhere. But eagles, those people are… They’re there, they’re just harder to find. So, that’s one of the titles that we use as well. Yeah, I try and come up with clever titles all the time. I think the ones that are on the website are just some of the latest ones that we’ve come up with and all I do when I present is I have an entourage of about two to 300 stories. All you have time for in a 60 minute presentation is maybe three principles, maybe four and maybe four stories. So, I’ll try and pull from that library, that archive and hit those principles.

Mike Merrill:

That’s great. Well, I… Yeah, there’s many inspirational talks and messages that you shared. I appreciate subscribing to those and tuning in. It’s a blessing to me, so I’m thankful for that. I think the one thing that most people are intrigued with is how do you keep that smile on your face and that positive attitude?

Chad Hymas:

Easy. We’re on camera right now. You didn’t see me this morning. I mean, we had things happen left and right. So, I mean… And people ask me all the time Mike, like what you’re saying, hey, how do you maintain that or maintain that attitude? My assistant’s sitting right next to me. She’ll tell you, this is not… This is… Everybody puts their best face forward but I’ve been asked, when did you finally reach that plateau? Whether it be my marriage, whether it be overcoming this and not… This becoming not an issue. The truth is, I haven’t. I don’t think I ever will. I’m trying to perfect it or I’m trying to make progress every single day, realizing that I’m going to make mistakes and I’m going to have slips, trips and falls or I’m going to fall out and how can I put controls in place where I can do it safely? How can I watch my tongue so that I don’t get upset so quickly? What can I do to be more humble, more grateful, show more kindness, more gratitude towards my wife instead of being not understanding, not listening?

Chad Hymas:

A lot of times for me it’s been just getting away and trying to let things soak in, but I… We’re going to be transparent and honest on this podcast, which is what I think you want, I… The truth is, I’m still working at it. I’m trying to be as good a person that I possibly can. I do not have this paralyzing mastered. I have no idea what marriage is, COVID has taught me that. For 21 years my drug of choice has been a hotel room 26 days a month. That’s been my drug of choice. In the last 14 months, prior to the last three weeks, the last three weeks have been pretty much flying around and we’re picking up pretty heavy now and I fly out again here tomorrow, I’ll stay in a hotel in Salt Lake here in just a little bit, and I had to learn how to be married. Let me rephrase that. I’m learning how to be married. We were married for six years prior to the accident. I don’t… I guess I don’t remember how good or how bad of a husband I was but I know that we make this commitment when we get married that sounds like this, for better for worse. No one plans on their spouse helping him shower. I know it sounds like fun, it’s not fun.

Mike Merrill:

Right.

Chad Hymas:

No one plans on their spouse helping them get dressed. I know it sounds like fun, it’s really not that fun. Shondell’s nice about it, she’ll ask me what I want to wear and I tell her I want to wear my jeans and a Harley Davidson T-shirt. You can see what I’m wearing today. Nothing what I asked for. She dresses me up in outfits. If you pick your outfits, you got worse problems than I’ll ever have in my lifetime. Now, here’s the catch. Here’s the catch to this. It takes me a couple hours to get dressed by myself. About two hours. I don’t mind it. I don’t. It’s exercise. Some people get up and they have coffee for two hours. I just get dressed. Some people get up and they go to the gym. I see you exercising all the time on your social media, a couple hours, I just get dressed. It’s not a big deal. It takes Shondell five minutes to get me dressed. Five. At best. I mean, she’s quick. Then would you believe that she wants me to do this absurd thing called go out and have breakfast with the kids before they go to school? Now, I know that’s not absurd, but when you’ve got into a habit like I have of not being there…

Mike Merrill:

Right.

Chad Hymas:

It’s just different. It’s the right thing. I feel it in my heart. Now I have to adapt myself, and other people that are listening think Chad, that’s a no-brainer. Yes. But when you’ve been smoking for so long it’s hard to stop smoking.

Mike Merrill:

Right.

Chad Hymas:

When you’ve been eating unhealthy, listen, you can’t have high expectations with mediocrit habits. We have high expectations for our marriage. My habits, at best, have been mediocre because I haven’t been there. I’ve been traveling and doing my thing. So, if I’m going to raise the bar in my marriage, I better raise my habits. I better change some things. So, that’s one of the sayings that I love to use. You can’t have high expectations with mediocrit habits. Must change your habits. No one’s ever climbed downhill. It’s an uphill… You know, this relationship thing.

Chad Hymas:

Now we’re… Now we… We went from talking about safety to now marriage. I mean, it’s an uphill… It’s an uphill… It’s not a bad thing, it’s just it’s a growth experience. It’s learning how to accept that you don’t always have to be right and I’ve been used to being right because I’ve been by myself in a Marriott or a Hilton. So, what I say goes and how I get on a plane, that’s how it works. When I come home now it’s a two way street and receiving… Here’s another. Receiving help with gratitude. You receive without forgetting and you give without ever remembering that you gave to somebody. That way you’re always in debt. I’ll say it again. Give without remembering that you gave. Give without remembering. And when someone gives something to you like service or money or some sort of a, I don’t know, memorandum, never ever forget who gave you or loaned you that money. Now you’re always indebted to people and I think that’s a great way to live life. It keeps you humble. Too much pride is called arrogance. Too little is called suicide. You have to find that balance.

Mike Merrill:

Yeah.

Chad Hymas:

I kind of hover somewhere around that midway point. So…

Mike Merrill:

Well, and I love what you pointed out earlier. I think all of us can learn from this. If we’re breathing we can learn from this and that is that there is no plateau. We’re never going to reach that place where we’ve nailed it all, we’ve figured it out, we’ve grown enough. That’s what life’s about and so if you’re not growing, we’ve heard you’re dying. So, get used to change. Right?

Chad Hymas:

Yeah. What’s that saying on the movie? Get busy living or get busy… Get busy dying.

Mike Merrill:

Yeah. Yeah.

Chad Hymas:

It’s a great… I mean, it’s a great phrase. I think that that… I mean, just because people are alive doesn’t mean that they’re maximizing their potential.

Mike Merrill:

Right.

Chad Hymas:

I meet a lot of people that rob air. That steal air. So, I… In fact, I’ve met people that have full function of all their limbs that are more trapped than I’ll ever be in my lifetime. That’s a bold statement to make on this podcast. It’s very, very bold. People that are more trapped than me and I’ve lost 95% of my feeling and movement, and they’ve got all of theirs intact. What do I mean by that? It’s exactly what we’ve been talking about. People that refuse to change, remember I just admitted to all of you, I confessed that I’m learning to change in my relationship with Shondell because I’ve been home more, but people that refuse to change because they’re not changing for anybody, they’ll find themselves trapped in their own habits. I mean look at me. If I wasn’t able to change the kind of clothes that I wear. My shirts two sizes too big. My pants are two sizes too big. My shoes don’t have laces. They’re two sizes too big. This allows me to get dressed by myself. Do I like my clothes? No. I didn’t say I’m not grateful. That’s different. In fact, all of your watchers, that are watching, they should be grateful that I’m grateful otherwise this could be a naked meeting. So, I’m grateful for clothes it’s just I don’t like these. I like cowboy clothes, they’re just a little bit difficult for me to get on because the boots are narrow, the wranglers are too tight, so I wear jeans that are stretch jeans. I wear shirts that are pre-buttoned and I do the last button, I have someone else do that last button for me. So, changing the way that I walk. I’m not walking like you. I’m just kind of… My chair just kind of coasting around here.

Mike Merrill:

Right.

Chad Hymas:

But that’s not the way that I was taught. But if I’m not willing to change the way that I walk I’d still be stuck in my office just like this.

Mike Merrill:

Right.

Chad Hymas:

How about COVID? Most people in my industry are waiting for hotel ballrooms to open up.

Mike Merrill:

Yeah.

Chad Hymas:

If you look at my website, where all of our meetings the last three weeks are being held? Outside.

Mike Merrill:

Yeah.

Chad Hymas:

We just changed our way that we’re approaching this until insight opens up slowly. Our meetings are all outside. I mean, we’re taking the bus tour around, we’re going to different construction sites, we’re bringing the message to the employees. So, we just found a different way to market but if I’m not willing to change with a changing world, I’d still be stuck back at the foundation or back at place number one wondering when things… When’s the government going to send my bail out cheque?

Mike Merrill:

Right.

Chad Hymas:

When am I going to get that money? I’ve never been successful with that Mike. I’ve never just… I’ve never felt fulfilled doing that.

Mike Merrill:

Well, and because you’ve been willing to adopt, your situation changed like we said in an instant, you’re caring for your family, you’re raising children, you’re a father, you’re an active husband, you’re a contributor to society and your community, you’re finding purpose and creating purpose that wasn’t going to come find you. I just… Hats off to you for that.

Chad Hymas:

Yeah. No, it’s very, very fair. Very fair to say.

Mike Merrill:

So, what… More on a personal side, what’s something that you are grateful for in your professional life but personally?

Chad Hymas:

The fact that I can provide. I mean, I take great pride in that. I take great pride in trying to make a contribution. Before my accident I was looking for a way to make money to build a ranch.

Mike Merrill:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chad Hymas:

There’s nothing wrong with that.

Mike Merrill:

Yeah.

Chad Hymas:

Money’s a good motivator. Since the accident I’ve tried to find a place to fit in with you and I’ve made a living in the process. So, those are two different approaches. Right? Two different objectives to go to work. I think when we go to work looking for a way to make a contribution to other people’s lives the money comes, it’s called abundance, it comes more abundantly and we aspire and inspire others. Inspire means to breathe life into, so we should ask people if we’re inspiring, if we’re breathing life into our children, are we breathing life into other people? I’m not talking mouth to mouth. I’m just talking being… People are better because we’re around. I mean, we should ask ourselves on a regular basis, is my wife happy that I’m home? Some days that answer’s no for me.

Mike Merrill:

Right.

Chad Hymas:

Some days it’s yes. Right? Right? So, I need to try to make more of those a yes. Are people better when I got to my church or do they not want me there because I’m grumpy? Are my kids excited to see dad come home? Do my kids know or do they want me at every single game because they play better when I’m on the court or do they not care because dad’s always on an airplane? As a side note to that, I didn’t miss one of their games. I know I traveled a lot, but during November, December, January and February I was in Toole County or whatever high school on Tuesday and Friday nights. I just don’t miss a kids games. So, that… While I missed everything else, homework, Eagle Scout, I never… I just don’t miss their games.

Mike Merrill:

Yeah. I remember a story you shared about the ice road truckers crew and how you got back for Ace’s first varsity game.

Chad Hymas:

Yeah.

Mike Merrill:

Do you mind sharing a little bit about that?

Chad Hymas:

Yeah. I mean, I was at ice road in Greenland and Ace was…

Mike Merrill:

Greenland the country. Right?

Chad Hymas:

Yeah, so…

Mike Merrill:

Not close.

Chad Hymas:

Yeah, well, this is not an easy country to get to. It’s 36 hours one way with all the layovers. It’s not… There’s not a direct flight. You know? You’ve got to work your way to get to Greenland and so it’s about 36 hours one way from where… If I’m traveling from home base. If I’m traveling from Atlanta it’s a whole different ball game but I was traveling from home base because I had just watched Ace start JV ball as a freshman. He was a freshman. So, I went that night to Atlanta red eye and on my way to ice road in Greenland and two days after I get there I get a phone call from Ace telling me that coach Fox had called him into his office and he was going to be starting tomorrow night in less than 20 hours in his first varsity start for a varsity only tournament. I did not want to be in Greenland anymore.

Mike Merrill:

Yeah.

Chad Hymas:

But the game’s in 20 hours and I already told you the flight time.

Mike Merrill:

Right.

Chad Hymas:

So, even if I was lucky, and there is no luck, I’m not going to make it back. So, my mind just… You know, I lost it a little bit. I was emotional. I just… Ace told me that he was excited he was going to start, he was nervous, he was scared and he asked me what he should do. I told him the truth. I said, “Well I never started varsity as a freshman so I don’t know the answer to that stuff but you’re probably supposed to be scared. That’s part of the gig. You’re probably supposed to be nervous. That’s part of the gig, and as far as knowing what to do, go ask the coach why he moved you up. I mean, you’re going to have to do it at a higher level because those kids are going to be stronger than you are. They’re going to be faster, they’re going to be big. So, you’re going to have to play your guts out. Buddy I’m sorry I’m not going to be able to keep my commitment and my promise. I would do anything to be there. I’m going to go talk to the boss of ice road right now even though it’s really late here and see if I can’t move third shift meeting tomorrow night. I better go, bye.”

Chad Hymas:

I just hung up and I just started crying and praying right there because I did not want to be in Greenland. I want to listen to the ACDC music as they come out. I want to see him dunk it during warmups. I want to hear his name and jersey number called out. I want to see all the intricate details. I want it all filmed. I want everything done. But I’m not going to make it.

Mike Merrill:

Yeah.

Chad Hymas:

But I can watch it on the internet or FaceTime. I just have to get the boss to move the night shift meeting tomorrow night because of the timezone. There’s five hours difference between Greenland and Utah.

Mike Merrill:

Okay.

Chad Hymas:

So, that night I went to her office. Nice lady, female office. She wasn’t there, she was in her barracks so I went and knocked on her door at 11 o’clock at night. She was awake. I told her the story I just told all you guys. She said, “You’re not living what you teach.” I said, I don’t understand.” She said, “You’re not going to be able to make the meeting tomorrow night but you just talked to us about our greatest asset today and your greatest asset’s back at home.” I said, “Yes and I’m doing all I can to watch it.” She said, “You’re not asking me the right question.” I said, “I don’t want to argue with you, I just… I thought it was a pretty good question, I just want to move the shift so I can watch it on my computer.” She said, “Let me show you a better question.” She walked over to her desk and she grabbed a two way radio and she alerted the pilots of ice road truckers to get the engine started. I didn’t even know they had a plane.

Mike Merrill:

Wow.

Chad Hymas:

But I wouldn’t have asked anyway because that’s not professional. I would not have asked.

Mike Merrill:

Right.

Chad Hymas:

I just wanted to move the meeting. I would not have asked for that. Wheels were up by midnight that night. They were up. We had wheels up.

Mike Merrill:

Wow.

Chad Hymas:

On a private jet, all night, from the Atlantic to Toronto where the next morning I caught a commercial Delta flight from Toronto to Salt Lake through Detroit. Same plane. The office was scrambling to get me tickets. They got it all worked out. The plane landed in Salt Lake 40 minutes before the game started. 40 minutes. So, plane hits the ground 40 minutes before tip off. I’m still not there yet. I mean, I got to get my butt to the game. I didn’t even go get my bags. Of course my bags probably didn’t arrive. I flew Delta so I’m sure they probably didn’t arrive. I just have say Delta is my number one carrier. They love…

Mike Merrill:

Sure.

Chad Hymas:

They love me. I love them. They take very good care of me. I love Delta. That’s my plug for Delta Airlines.

Mike Merrill:

Sweet.

Chad Hymas:

I had a helicopter waiting for me.

Mike Merrill:

Wow.

Chad Hymas:

Landed the bird in the football field. I called a buddy to come help me get in. I didn’t call my wife, she didn’t know I was coming. I don’t want her to know what I spent on the helicopter and as soon as I wheeled my chair into the gym, kid saw me. ACDC playing. Thousands of people in the stands.

Mike Merrill:

Wow.

Chad Hymas:

He threw down a hammer dunk because the adrenaline was pumping through his veins. I mean, the adrenaline was going and I heard his name called, starting freshman, and then right before tip off he ran over to my wheelchair which is always baseline, I sit baseline, and he dropped to a knee and he gave me a hug and somebody up in the bleachers was filming that. They put it on YouTube. I didn’t know that.

Mike Merrill:

Wow.

Chad Hymas:

All I know is the next day flying back to Greenland, ice road, when I landed at one of the layovers my phone was blowing up from the office. Bunch of people were trying to contact us. Dr. Phil, Ellen. I don’t know who those people are because I work.

Mike Merrill:

Yeah, right.

Chad Hymas:

Do you guys know who those people are? You should probably get a job too. I had no idea. So, it just kind of blew up and took off from there.

Mike Merrill:

Wow.

Chad Hymas:

Yeah, I didn’t miss a game. Almost missed a game. Didn’t miss a game.

Mike Merrill:

What a story and although that was not your objective initially you were trying to at least get a half measure in and attempt to do your best. The blessing came later because you put the effort in…

Chad Hymas:

Sure.

Mike Merrill:

And put yourself in an opportunity to receive it.

Chad Hymas:

Yeah. That’s fair to say.

Mike Merrill:

Love that. Great story. So, tell me this and I could fill in this blank, but rather get your answer, so what is Chad Hymas’s superpower? If we were going to boil it down to something, what’s that thing that you feel like you put your cape on for?

Chad Hymas:

I don’t think I have one. I think it’s everybody else’s that allow me to do what I do because I can’t travel… As independent as I like to think that I am, I mean, I rely on other people to get me transferred. Leslie’s been with me for several years. She helps me get in and out of my van. She helps me pack my bag sometimes when Shondell’s not here. Other people help me get in Uber vehicles. I travel alone. At night a complete stranger will help me get into the Marriott. I’ll get up in the morning and fly out first thing. I don’t know who those people are yet. Haven’t met them. So, I don’t know that I have a superpower. I just… I rely on other people’s strengths to compensate for my many, many weaknesses and I have a lot.

Mike Merrill:

That sounds pretty powerful to me. That’s a lot of people’s weaknesses including mine. I struggle receiving help. So, tell me, and this might seem like a facetious or even obvious question, but if you could go back to that fateful day when this accident happened and you could rewind the tapes and not have that happen, would you take all that back?

Chad Hymas:

You know, I was asked that question before on a talk show by a very famous host and my answer today is the same as it was then and my answer is this. I wouldn’t change what happened to me that night to avoid all the pain, the grief that I put on my family, and I put a lot, have put a lot. Still put a lot at times. I wouldn’t change it. Some might think I’m crazy and that’s all right but if you had been what I’ve been through, met who I’ve met, traveled where I’ve traveled, grown the way that I’ve grown I think that you would all echo with me when I say I thank God that we have adversity, challenges, we have setbacks that allow us to realize what our potential really could be, and we honor our losses by the way that we live our life. So, I wouldn’t change it because the growth that I’ve experienced because of it, I would have to give up everything if I went back and changed that, including this podcast. I would have to give up flying and traveling. There’s pros and cons. You know?

Mike Merrill:

Yeah.

Chad Hymas:

Start thinking about having your spouse help you and things it makes you think, would I change it? Yes. But the truth is I’m learning how to be authentically grateful. Gracious acceptance. I’m fine with others. With the one person I’m married to, that’s not always easy for me because I see her doing things that I feel like I should be doing. She never complains. I don’t want to come across… She loves it. She loves to be out in the field. She loves to work the horses. I just have a lot of envy and jealousy. I want to remember what I said about pride, taking care of my family? I like to be the one saddling the horse but that still said, even that, that tells you that I’ve got some work to do and I’m growing because there’s a lot of pride sitting in this wheelchair in this office. You’re not supposed to ask me that question because I don’t like to talk about that.

Mike Merrill:

I’m sorry about that. I just know… I know you, like you mentioned, we knew one another before. I had a chance to get to know you close enough to see what you stood for even 25, 30 years ago and I don’t… I mean, I think you’re evolved and adapted and you’ve grown but I still see the same guy. I feel the same spirit about you as I felt when you were 19, 20 years old. So, I think this has allowed you to become more what you could become than has handicapped or hindered you from what I feel. So…

Chad Hymas:

I have to believe you’re right. That’s what keeps me going. That’s what allows me to wake up with purpose, passion and perspective every morning.

Mike Merrill:

Well, I’ve really enjoyed this conversation and had a great time getting to know you better and learning more about your story. I guess just the final question I’d love to ask, what would you hope that the listeners would take away with today from this conversation if there was one thing?

Chad Hymas:

There’s hopefully several… Some gems, some nugget, something that will help you be a better spouse, a better parent, a better child, a better coworker, better colleague. Remember that there are several right ways to solve a single problem. Doesn’t have to be your way. Remember the value of life and to not rob air and the way you honor the losses, and we’ve had a lot the last 14 months, 15, a lot of loss. I’m not just talking about the loss of life, all of that is to be mentioned, but we’ve also lost freedom, the ability to gather together, the ability to show our face in public because it’s been masked up. Something that other countries have done for years. They’ve always masked up their people. Us, in America, we’re used to traveling without masks. We’re used to being able to go to football games in stadiums and watch high school sports. You honor the way you move forward by the way you handle the loss. Attitude is key. Attitude is everything. So, please take a hard look in the mirror at the way that you have taken some of these hits and then move forward not forgetting how those hits can impact your life for the better, and that’s how you honor that loss.

Mike Merrill:

Thank you Chad. You are one who walks the walk, no question. Thank you to our guests and listeners today for joining us on the Mobile Workforce Podcast, sponsored by About Time Technologies and WorkMax. If you enjoyed the conversation that Chad and I had today and were able to gain some valuable lessons and insights, please give us a follow on LinkedIn and WorkMax, underscore on Instagram and give us a five star rating and review. We also love it when you share the episode with your colleagues and friends and allow them to be blessed by the same information that we’ve shared here today. After all, our goal is not only to help you in business but in life.