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The Risk That Rules Us All: 5 Times Frodo Baggins Illuminated the Daily EHS Struggle

September 20th, 2018

Whether you entered the environment, health, and safety (EHS) profession on your own volition or by happenstance, you likely never dreamed of the heavy burden you’d have to carry. But you bear that burden with honor.

Why? Because you’re the Health-Hobbit. You’re the Safety-Friend. And, perhaps most importantly, you’re the Risk-Bearer—defending your employees and organization against doom and evil incidents.

However, your bravery and commitment are constantly tested, allowing apprehension, frustration, and self-doubt to creep in. Frodo Baggins—the beloved protagonist in J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic The Lord of the Rings saga—can certainly relate.

While he and his companions triumph in the end, the road to victory was fraught with daily drama—and many of those moments paralleling the struggles of EHS professionals.

So, in honor of this classic, fictional tale and Risk-Bearers everywhere, we bring you some of our favorite Frodo moments and quotes that mirror your daily reality.

1. Rising to the Challenge

Standing before the Council of Elrond, Frodo famously declares that he will make the trip to Mount Doom to destroy the Ring, saying:

“I will take the Ring, though I do not know the way.”

From global risk management to stakeholder engagement to proving business ROI, you’re taking on an increasing level of responsibility within your organizations. And oftentimes, you may feel like you don’t have the expertise or resources to defeat risk, restore order, and protect your people and world.

But, nonetheless, you accept the challenge. You leverage EHS compliance and risk management tools and technology, you seek out professional development opportunities such as attending an EHS conference, or you tap a reliable, Samwise Gamgee-like EHS consulting partner to join you on your journey.

2. Bearing the Full Weight of Responsibility

As the weight of the Ring’s evil powers take their toll on Frodo, he can barely walk. When Sam asks if he can keep going, Frodo replies:

“I can manage it. I must.”

And they continue on their journey, together.

Despite the mounting pressure you’re under, you take great pride in what you do. You’re committed to protecting your employees and organization from harm—and you believe that’s your burden to bear. But you do want a trusty companion—be that strong internal or external partners—to stand at your side ready to offer their support.

3. Facing Disappointment

Perhaps one of the most memorable scenes comes early in the story. Frodo recognizes the dangerous reality of the Ring and what he must do, saying to Gandalf:

“I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.”

For you, this is inevitably what you feel when an incident occurs. It’s overwhelming, but you know you need to move forward and prioritize your next steps, because as Gandalf tells Frodo:

“So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

4. Feeling Defeated

Lying on the slopes of Mount Doom, so close to completing his mission, Frodo is in agony and says to Sam:

“I can't recall the taste of food, nor the sound of water, nor the touch of grass. I'm naked in the dark. There's nothing—no veil between me and the wheel of fire. I can see him with my waking eyes.”

While you may not have a strong flair for the dramatic, when incident numbers rise or risk heighten, it can be a crushing blow.

5. Managing Stakeholder Relationships

When Gollum enters the story, he’s fishing in a forbidden pool—an act punishable by death. Frodo promises not to harm him and soon he’s being interrogated. He cowers, screams in terror, and reluctantly shares his convoluted answers.

Following the interrogation, Faramir, the Captain of the White Tower, advocates for killing Gollum. Frodo, who’s taken pity on the wretched creature, advocates mercy and says:

“At least, you must either accept this promise or carry out your law. You will get no more. But I promised that if he came to me, he should not be harmed. And I would not be proved faithless.”

Faramir relents, giving Gollum over to Frodo and issues his final warning to beware the creature.

When it comes to working with different stakeholder groups, you know each possesses unique insights—but some are easier than others to read and work with. As a result, you keep your duty at the forefront of your mind and do your best to foster meaningful relationships and create a culture of health and safety.

We Are Your Friends, Frodo

Frodo’s quest to destroy the “One Ring to Rule Them All” was fraught with drama and setbacks, but with a laser focus on his mission—and the help of some trusty companions along the way—he achieved victory.

The big takeaway? The struggle is real. But if you stay true to your duty, have confidence in your skills, and engage the right tools and people when you need help, you will find success.

And, as Sam said: “We are your friends, Frodo.” So, if you’re looking for that supportive EHS partner, we’ll be here with you at the end of all things.

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