Change Involves Loss but Can Lead to Great Rewards – by Guest Blogger Mary Tebeau

When was the last time you’ve taken a risk that’s led to a significant change in your life?

Sometimes, an unplanned opportunity – a change – can lead to the greatest growth.

Even when change is due to the best of circumstances, it also requires us to lose something – whether it be a routine, a relationship, a place that holds memories, a reputation, a known experience.

While most people enjoy their comfort zone – me included – getting outside of that circle can be very rewarding. In reflecting over my life’s trajectory thus far I can pinpoint three key decisions of significant change that led me down new roads.

In high school, I spent my early years playing volleyball as a fall sport. As a disenfranchised senior, and having run track every year, I decided to join several girlfriends who were running on the cross country team. Running distance – a 5k – seemed incredibly long, and frankly, scared the hell out of me. Surprisingly, I absolutely loved it and excelled at the longer distance and our team had a great 1986 season.

Later as a freshman at Ohio State University, I saw the girls cross country team running and wondered whether it would be possible to join them. After some encouragement from friends, I called the coach who gave me a workout regimen to do over the summer which concluded with a one-week training camp at Ohio State. The last day of camp was a race – those who finished in the top 15 runners made the team, those who didn’t were out.

After completing the summer workouts and reporting my times to the coach, I participated in the camp and met the other girls – some of whom had been recruited and were on scholarship. I had just one year of distance running experience, was I crazy?! The week culminated in the Friday race and I left everything I had on the OSU golf course that day. I finished in the top 15 – and I wasn’t even last! Beyond thrilled, that led to several years of grueling workouts, great friendships, and a fantastic opportunity to travel and represent Ohio State at Big Ten meets while earning a varsity letter.

A second big risk led to the career I have today. Soon after college graduation with a degree in journalism, I had stints working for The Columbus Dispatch and what was at the time Suburban News Publications, covering high school sports. While I loved covering the games and writing/shooting photos, I was barely making enough to make ends meet.

On a whim I called the Builders Exchange of Central Ohio’s Cathy Blackford, their Assistant Executive Director at the time, who as an Ohio State alum had spoken to a student group I’d been involved with during college.

We kept in touch for a year or so, and she encouraged me to apply for a newly created position in the Safety Dept – which I ultimately got and accepted. After turning in my final news story about a local high school volleyball team making the state tournament – the epitome of excitement – my first day at the BX was attending a seminar about “Ladder Safety.” I distinctively remember wondering whether I had just made a huge mistake:  Had I given up on the dream to be a sports reporter to join a trade association and be forced to sit in on classes with topics that I didn’t even realize were relevant?!?

Well, things certainly picked up in my trade association career and needless to say I’m still serving the construction industry through the BX, nearly 30 years later! The skills I learned in J-school – learning about a subject in which you may not be an expert – and translating in layman’s terms to the public the information they need to know – are skills I continue to use every day at the BX.

The third key decision came 18 years into my career with construction trade associations when my husband and I took job opportunities that moved us to Philadelphia. A lifetime Ohioan, moving to the East Coast was a significant change – people are to-the-point and life moves fast! And don’t get me started on the daily road toll fees. As a Midwesterner, I had a difficult time adjusting to the culture and pace. But after five years, I loved it and made some of the best friends and colleagues I’ve ever had – the people are direct and you know where they stand, whether you agree or not. My trust of East Coast-ers grew immensely. The experience of running a construction trade association in greater Philly gave me additional knowledge needed to prepare me for the position I have today as Executive Director of the Builders Exchange of Central Ohio.

Each of these key events took me outside of my comfort zone. Change requires us to face the reality that we’re not in control and forces us to face things within ourselves that we could conveniently avoid when things were status quo.

In 2023, when you’re faced with a change, have the courage to consider it and accept the loss that comes with the opportunity for growth.

Change means unknowns. It also means having to relearn something – and the older we get, the harder this is, yet the rewards can be life changing.