What does safety mean to you?

While we know it is important to protect and conserve land, we can’t forget about ourselves in the process. Reaching a goal or leading a cause takes time, energy and effort to develop and grow; it relies on happy and healthy individuals to keep it going. But individuals can only unite and form strong teams if they are all on the same page.

The “NPS Operational Leadership” encompassed many topics related to working on the National Park Service team. It was similar to a classroom setting with a facilitator and peer groups. While we learned about some of the concepts, we learned more about each other and our respective departments – each with a different line of work and safety risks.

There were people from different parts of the park, some who work in maintenance, others with hydraulics, while others worked with seeds and plants.

One of the topics that we covered was effective leadership which encompassed the difference between designated and functional leadership. Being in a team requires having the same common goal and having each person play their own role to reach it together.

I also enjoyed learning more about the psychological and physiological perspectives on stress along with its effect on work performance because it considered employees as people first.

Keeping this in mind, it is important to get to know coworkers in order to be able to work well together and to identify when something seems off or strange from the usual.

Another topic that stuck with me was Operational Risk Management because of its application to safety in other aspects of life beyond the workplace. There is potential for risks everywhere we go. But after the training, I feel more aware of my surroundings and potential for danger in any situation. Mitigating risks means making the effort to create a safer environment.

The NPS Situational Leadership Student Manual defines situational awareness as:

“Being alert to what is happening around you in order to understand how information, events, and your own actions will impact your goals and objectives, both now and in the future.”

Situational awareness relates to being mindful. Throughout my time here, I’ve been listening to podcasts on my commute to work about meditation and mindfulness. One of the common practices is to notice more surroundings. Oftentimes, the podcasts call out trees, birds and other beings from nature. The days that we get to drive out to the park, my eyes are astonished by the vast beauty of Lake Mead. The water in such a cool blue and the mountains of varying warm hues … it’s a world of contrast from the everyday.

A way to try to reduce risks is to avoid complacency. It can be harder for someone to follow precautions if he or she has done the task many times before because they become complacent. As with the much of the material in the training, this notion can be applied to life. Each day is a new experience with a chance to get a new perspective.

Because I love watching Ted Talks, I was really excited when I heard that Lake Mead employees hold internal “Lake Talks” where they facilitate a dialogue based off of a topic from a Ted Talk. The one for this month was about safety and we watched a bit of Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why.” This helped to get a larger perspective about why caring about safety is important. For example, someone mentioned that safety matters at work to be able to go home to family.

Safety is a careful balance between keeping the bigger picture in mind while simultaneously being vigilant of the smaller details. I’ve come away with a new perspective on safety.

Putting safety first helps to enjoy the adventure!

Titles that didn’t make it/Bloopers:
Peligro? More like peli-NO!
The Quarrel with Peril
It’s Liderazgo Not Lide-reisgo!
The Well-Equipped Equipo
There’s no “I… Yai Yai!” in “Team”

Comment below with more puns 🙂

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