The Importance of the Choices We Make

As I pondered the things that brought me to this specific time in my life, I thought of all the choices I have made. I have had a wide range of emotions related to some of my choices and their outcomes. While at times I would like to go back in time and replay a decision, hoping for a different outcome, I know each decision brought me right here.

So many parts of life are about taking baby steps through it, but occasionally we are required to take giant leaps of faith to achieve something we never thought was possible. That is how I feel about my current position. I am the occupational safety and health manager at the Advanced Test Reactor (ATR), a facility at Idaho National Laboratory.

I can honestly say that I never thought I would be a manager. I was perfectly happy working as an individual contributor at a truly unique facility. I am a certified industrial hygienist and a certified safety professional, and I was able to provide expertise to operations and maintenance to solve issues as they arose and facilitate work processes at ATR. I studied jobs and job sites and determined the safest, most practical ways to get things accomplished. I had found my perfect job.

My boss at the time, a friend and mentor, declared his intention to retire. When he asked if I would be interested in taking his place, I emphatically replied that I would not. He reminded me that by taking his place I would maintain control of my own destiny. If I relinquished that control, someone else would have the power to drive my destiny, and I might not like where their direction would take me. From there, my decision was easy. I didn’t want the fate of my career to be directed by someone else. I also felt a sense of obligation to my work group, so I decided to pursue the management position. I figured out quickly that if I continued to treat people the way I always wanted to be treated, everything worked out. The people who work with me understand that their concerns are truly heard. They may not always like my decisions, but they have confidence that their concerns are given true consideration.

Life is about making choices. Life is about taking risks. Life is about measuring and evaluating the outcomes and making sure the risks taken are worth it. I hope that I can serve as a role model for the next generation of women coming into the workforce. I want to show them you do not have to change who you are to manage. By staying true to your values and treating everyone with dignity and respect, you will be a success.