#67: I See You

December 2, 2020 | 8 minutes  15 seconds

In this unique episode of The Accidental Safety Pro Podcast, series host Jill James reaches out to everyone affected by the pandemic.



This is the Accidental Safety Pro brought to you by HSI. This episode was recorded November 25th, 2020. My name is Jill James, HSI's Chief Safety Officer. I'm joining you today and for the first time without a guest, and it's not because I ran out of incredible people to talk with and stories to hear. Rather, I just wanted to talk with you. Life is hard right now, and it's been hard for nearly a year. And I want to acknowledge that. If you're feeling unseen for your heroic efforts to keep your employees healthy and safe right now, I want you to know, I see you, and I'm grateful for your work. For those of you who are scared for yourselves or for your workforce and your families, I see you. For those of you who are swept up in the intensity of work with no time to process the added enormity a pandemic is bringing to your work, I see you.

For those of you who have lost your work in this pandemic, I see you and feel for you. For those of you who feel like all the eyes of your company leaders and employees are on you every day to know what is right to do in this moment, I see you. For those of you on the edge of leaving your current work and are in search of your next chapter with all of that anxiety and thrill that it brings, I see you. For those of you who have lost employees or family members to the virus, I'm sorry for your loss. For those of you who feel like no one is listening or seeing you for your professional knowledge, I see you. For those of you who are reading and reading and reading and trying to digest volumes of information that seem daunting, conflicting, and ever changing, it is, and thank you for trying to keep up with the science as it evolves in real time.

For those of you who are carrying the stories of your employees' real struggles, fears, and illnesses with you and into your waking and sleeping hours while balancing your own home life, I see you and hope you are finding a way to create regenerating stillness for yourself. Please do that. It's so important for your resilience. What I know for certain is that we safety and health professionals, we're a caring sort of people. We care deeply for humanity. We don't want to see harm done to people. And we balance our passion for people with equal parts science and engineering with a pragmatic eye on logical business decisions. It's not easy and it was never easy, even before a pandemic, right? Yet it's what we do.

Sometime last winter, before everything went sideways, I had an opportunity to hear a the former Colombian President, Juan Manuel Santos, speak at a university in Minnesota. President Santos is also a Nobel Laureate having been awarded the Peace Prize in 2016. President Santos was awarded the prize for his efforts in ending his country's 50 year long civil war. I was transfixed sitting feet from a head of state who was also a Nobel Laureate, and he was an excellent storyteller. And if you've been listening to this podcast for any amount of time, you know how I love a good story. The story that President Santos told that night stuck with me and it's one that I've leaned into myself these past months. And I wanted to share with you part of what he said.

He was telling that, as a young man, he joined the Colombian Navy. He had never sailed and knew nothing of sailing. Yet there he was in a sailboat with no knowledge of what to do. His instructor told him he'd teach him to sail with a few simple instructions as they sat in a body of water. First, he told the young Santos he needed to know his port of destiny, essentially asking him, where are you going? Santos eye'd a port of destiny at some point across the body of water. Then his instructor said, "You can use all the winds to get to your port of destiny, even the winds that are against you." That was the end of the sailing lesson. "Know your port of destiny. Use all the winds, even the winds that are against you." Those words stuck with me, and they stuck with young sailor Santos too. Many, many years later when trying to figure out how to end a civil war, President Santos said his port of destiny was peace, and he used all the winds, including those against him, to reach that port of destiny with his fellow citizens.

My fellow safety and health professionals, what is your port of destiny right now? If you don't know, sit with that question, think about it, and decide where you're going. The world and our work is swirling and swirling. Set your gaze and steady yourself on a single port of destiny. Whatever it is, getting there will sometimes be easy with the wind at your back. And sometimes the winds will be against you. Use all of those winds, especially now, to get to your port of destiny. I want to hear your story about your port of destiny. I want to hear about the winds you're harnessing to get there. Please reach out to me. Tell me your story. And while you're at it, reach out to a fellow professional and exchange stories about your ports of destiny, for we are all in this sea together.

Thank you for your time listening today, and more importantly, thank you for your contribution toward the common good, making sure your workers, including your temporary workers, make it home safe every day. If you'd like to join the conversation about this episode or any of our previous episodes, follow our page and join the Accidental Safety Pro Community Group on Facebook. If you want to email me your port of destiny story, you can reach me at [email protected]. If you aren't subscribed and want to hear past and future episodes of this podcast, you can subscribe in iTunes, the Apple Podcast app, or any podcast player you'd like. We'd love it if you could leave a rating and review us on iTunes. It really helps us connect the show with more and more safety professionals like you and I. Special thanks to Will Moss, our podcast producer. And until next time, thanks for listening.

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