Now that my hair has turned gray, I periodically think back and consider "what if …" What if I had chosen a different major in college? What if I had not taken a specific job opportunity? This thinking has led me reflect on my accomplishments, so I sat and thought about what have I accomplished, what accomplishments am I most proud of, and what do I still need to accomplish.
When I think about the proudest accomplishments in my life, I realize that I truly cherish the things that I had to earn through hard work and dedication. Though I played organized sports from second grade through high school, my athletic career was far from noteworthy. I can only recall being on one championship team; it was my junior year in high school, where, as a member of the varsity soccer team, I was fortunate enough to collect splinters in my bottom as my teammates won the league championship. Other than sports, the only organized activity that I did in my youth was scouting. Not to brag, but I was a stellar scout. I started as a Cub Scout in third grade, I became a Boy Scout in the sixth grade, and I remained in scouting until college. Along the way: I made many friends, participated in a lot of activities, did two high adventure treks, earned many badges, and achieved the rank of Eagle Scout. Becoming an Eagle Scout took me seven years so I am very proud of that accomplishment; I still list it on my resume.
"The surprising thing is these accomplishments have built on one another."
I graduated college with a degree in mechanical engineering. While college had its fun moments, I mostly remember four years of stress. I never worked so hard on anything in my life; hence, I am very proud of my degree. After graduation, I started my professional career as a product assurance engineer. To be totally honest, I did not know what the combination of those words meant; I wish now someone had said, "Welcome to the world of quality." I worked a full six years in the quality field before joining ASQ. The reason I waited that long was simply because I was frugal. My first employer did not pay for membership in professional societies, and I was still paying my membership dues for the American Society for Mechanical Engineers. My second employer supported professional society memberships so I took advantage of their generosity, joined ASQ and shortly thereafter earned my first ASQ certification: Certified Quality Engineer (CQE).
Wanting to accomplish more in my professional life, professional credentials led me to challenge and push myself further. I have now passed a total of eight ASQ certification exams, but the CQE means the most to me because it is the certification I worked hardest for. Taking that exam transformed me; I went from a passive ASQ member to an active ASQ participant; one might say I got off the bench and got into the game. Maintaining a CQE requires renewal every three years. After working so hard to earn my certification, there was no way I was going to let it expire, therefore I had to either retake the certification exam or I had to earn recertification units; the choice was easy but the execution was not.
I quickly realized that I needed to devise a three-year plan to earn enough recertification units in order to renew my CQE. Employment provided half of the recertification units I needed, but I had to earn the other units through a combination of training courses, conferences, attendance at ASQ Section meetings, and volunteer work. My involvement with ASQ was the catalyst for my transformation. This transformation occurred over many years and during that time quality became more than a job, it became a career. Ultimately, my career became an accomplishment because I had to earn it through hard work and dedication.
So, other than a happy marriage and the enjoyment of raising four children, my greatest accomplishments are Eagle Scout, a college degree, becoming a CQE, and my career. But the surprising thing is these accomplishments have built on one another. The dedication and stick-to-itiveness needed to become an Eagle Scout built the perseverance I needed to complete my engineering degree. My degree was the entry point for my career and my career was greatly enhanced by my becoming a CQE. What has been the payback? Lots: a satisfying career, self-satisfaction, pride, recognition (such as being honored as an ASQ Fellow), knowledge, and a vast personal network that has proven to be invaluable throughout my career.
My career isn’t over just yet and I still have several goals that I would like to accomplish; these goals will require further commitment and effort so I pray that I am up for the challenge. Undoubtedly, you also have had several proud accomplishments in your lifetime, and hopefully ASQ has impacted your life as much as it has mine. If not, then "get into the game" because the end results may be far greater than you can imagine.
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