September 2014

As chief elected officer of the Society, ASSE's president promotes the advancement of the Society and the safety profession, and represents ASSE before members, other relevant professional societies and various governmental agencies. Professional Safety shares his latest thoughts on the Society, the profession and its practice.

Read past messages in the President's Message Archive.

President's Message - May 2007

By joining ASSE, you have taken an important step in the push toward professional excellence. It shows that you are committed to a process of continuous improvement on a personal level.

2006-2007 ASSE President Donald S. Jones, Sr., MBA, PE, CSP

Professional Excellence

I recently read an article by Harvey Mackay titled "Be a Believer to Be an Achiever." In the article, he shares an anecdote about a professor who, just before passing out a final exam, offered students who didn't want to take the test an automatic "B" in the class. All but seven students took him up on the offer and left class. The professor then handed out the final exam. On it were two sentences: "Congratulations, you have just received an "A" in this class. Keep believing in yourself."

Whether or not the story is true, the message is a good one for SH&E professionals. The seven students who stayed were confident in their knowledge and ability to get an "A." In safety, we must be equally confident. We must believe that the knowledge we have and the lessons we have learned will help us save lives. We must know that the actions we recommend and the counsel we provide will truly benefit our many stakeholders. Above all, we must have a passion for what we do-one that drives us to do our best in all we do.

Academy Award winning actress Katherine Hepburn was once asked what she would have done had she not become an actress. "If they did not pay me to be an actress, I would have to find another way to support my acting habit," she said. "I have an innate need to do what I do." To truly succeed in SH&E, we must have an innate desire to protect people and send them home safely each day. That need fuels the pursuit of professional excellence at every turn.

By joining ASSE, you have taken one of the most important steps in the push toward professional excellence. Being part of this organization says that you want to know all you can about your chosen profession. It shows that you want to do all you can to protect people and create safe work environments. Most of all, it shows that you are committed to a process of continuous improvement on a personal level.

As part of that process, we each need to craft and implement a strategy that will help us be our best. In the October 2003 issue of its Ideas! newsletter, The Sonoma Institute offered several tips for "being the best." I find five of them to be particularly relevant to the practice of SH&E.

  • Define how you will measure personal success-and how you will learn from failure.

  • Determine what matters with respect to being the best, then make those things your priority and pursue them faithfully.

  • Embrace change. As the institute advises, "Change cannot be managed. You can only manage the way that you choose to engage with change."

  • Focus on building long-lasting relationships. "The character and quality of the relationships you build and sustain will largely determine your success," the institute says.

  • Step out of your comfort zones. Always assess what other competencies you need-understanding that they are ever changing-and commit to lifelong learning.

Through a multitude of resources, ASSE can help you in each of these areas. As an ASSE member, you are part of a network of nearly 30,000 peers from whom you can learn valuable lessons and with whom you can share new ideas. You can participate in the Society's annual conference and exposition, audioconferences and webinars, and technical and skills-development workshops, not to mention the many events held at your chapter and region level. As an ASSE member, you can stay current on the latest industry trends, best practices and ASSE activities by reading Professional Safety, Society Update and the technical newsletters published by the Society's practice specialty groups. ASSE also offers a full range of technical publications, business and management books, and industry standards to help you enhance your efforts and advance your career.

To truly excel and be your best, you have to pursue excellence with rigor and discipline. Determine where you'd like to be, draft a plan to get there, then take action to make it so.

Donald S. Jones, Sr., MBA, PE, CSP