A view of the finish line can be a great feeling. Diligent work on a project, excitement as the end is near. We may fall into the trap of Summit Fever. The symptoms vary, blindness to your surroundings, rushing, disregarding plans and procedures. The imminent goal accomplishment can cause disregard to certain conditions and other important factors. Cruise control may kick in, we drift into auto pilot.
This is the time to push, maintain your focus and drive, allow your senses to heighten. Keep the blinders off to remedy “Summit Fever.”
More often than not this blog serves as my own journal, my release and my reminder. Always on the quest for motivation, I seek aegis from sources outside the fire service and within. The quote above is from Gandhi. This man was disobedient and sought civil rights for people around the world. This struck a chord with me. “Have I become too much of a preacher instead of a practitioner?” My vocation is a hands on one, yet so much is put in behind the podium.
Guard against Integrity Sabotage.
Do we practice what we preach? Even if we render an ounce of practice, we can guard againt Integrity Sabotage. What do we look like when others eyes are not fixed on us? Does our preaching match our practice or do we subvert to appease our peers? Conformity to ideals can contaminate our own principles when done so for the sake of appealing to others. The days of our youth can be revisited, simply longing to be one of the in-crowd. Practicing what you preach shows the hunger then preaching may drives others lust, so you STAY HUNGRY.
In our line of work, you will gain more followers by an ounce of practice than you will tons of preaching.
*Stay Hungry – coined by good friend and brother Mark Vonappen http://mark-vonappen.blogspot.com
“We are defined by the actions rarely seen by others. The hours of mistakes drive the hours of seeking perfection, knowing perfection will never come. We are defined by who we are when no one is watching. Our struggle is personal, it is a lifelong quest. We admit our weaknesses, we toil over the solutions. When our task is done, others will define us. Do not make another man a liar when he defines you as a fighter.” Make your craft your passion, do it for yourself as you are doing it for others. Spending time simply trying to be seen will cause you to fail when you are called upon.
What if when we arrived to an emergency we only brought one tool? One rig brings hose, another the water, one more brings hand tools. This certainly would not be the most efficient way of operating. We prepare our trucks with various types of tools and equipment to take on many challenges. Sure, we still have our specialty apparatus to serve in uniqueways, but they still have various tools and equipment. Our people are the same way. Each of us bring individual perspectives to our trade. They way we think, move, act and feel. To some degree we want continuity in the way we operate. We should all have the same basic training and attitudes, we should however take on a special skill or knowledge area so we can add that knowledge to the operation just as certain tools do.
“Jack of all trades, master of none.”
As we take on more types of services we provide, we can lose essential knowledge. Some may be better than others at being diverse, for the most part this way of operating can hinder us. At this point we should discuss all the services we provide, but you already know how many roles we play these days. As the average front-line responder how many “hats” do you already wear? How many more may be expected from you? What can you do to keep a balance, where do you draw the line?
To that question I have no answer, although I can offer some simple advice, “Be the type of Firefighter YOU want to be.” You get out of this profession what you put into it. Put pride and energy into your work, it will come back to you. Be pissed off and mad at the world, that is how you will feel and how others will see you. Only we can manage our attitudes, only we can be who we want to be, and be seen as. What level of service do you want to provide to those you provide it to? What are their expectations and what are you doing to meet those. Hundreds of certificates in a book are nothing if you cannot provide basic services to those you took an oath to care for.
Who are you? What type of Firefighter do you want to be? Ask yourself these questions and ask them often, then set yourself on the path to be who you want to be.
The fire service is full of actions, traditions, ceremonies, and other types “ways we’ve always done it.” Behind every “what” we do there must be a “why.” We must adapt to the current time, standards and the like, always staying vigilant to never allow the fire to “one up us.”
‘The Eagle and the Arrow from Aesop’s Fables – An Eagle was soaring through the air when suddenly it heard the whizz of an Arrow, and felt itself wounded to death. Slowly it fluttered down to the earth, with its life-blood pouring out of it. Looking down upon the Arrow with which it had been pierced, it found that the haft of the Arrow had been feathered with one of its own plumes. “Alas!” it cried, as it died,
|“WE OFTEN GIVE OUR ENEMIES THE MEANS FOR OUR OWN DESTRUCTION.”|
Ever must we stand to preserve our mission. To protect life, property and the environment, our processes should be reviewed and fine tuned to the “arrow” we are currently up against. We must take account for who, what and where were are. Progression must be part of culture. Acclimate to our changing world both physically and socially. Guard against a serene organization, we can react adequately when faced with change.
When we are soaring high as the eagle and undisturbed, we can lose our steadfast posture. Complacency will easily set in. This is the time when we give our enemy the ammunition to peirce us with the arrow of failure and loss. Train often and on current, relevant topics. Stay in touch with the changing world, ready to adapt. If not we will give our enemy the means for our own destruction.
“A picture is worth a thousand words.” Words coined by someone long ago, noting that a single image can convey a complex idea. From the stories told by a Neanderthal through his simple etchings to our modern day capture of life, man has told his story through image. A moment in time or emotion of man has inspired, enraged, saddened and brought courage to those who see past the mere ink on paper (or pixels on screen).
What does any of this have to do with the fire service? Everything. Where ever you are your attention can be instantly transferred to another place or another time. A fire burns in Chicago as you watch in Dixon Wyoming. But your reality of the situation is skewed. Your mind can concentrate on the image not the sounds, the feel of the wind, the chaos of the fire ground and your elevated pulse rate fueled by adrenaline. Your attention placed on watching as others act, perform and make critical decisions. Their senses flooded, their bodies exhausted and emotions driving them. “Fight or Flight” is on the brink, which will they decide as you analyze and compare this image to what you would do in their situation. Time is on your side. Minutes, hours and days exist for you to react, then change your decision upon any new information you find. Those in the image, make a choice in a seconds time and must execute it right.
There are positives to the influx of media we have available to us. We are not seeing the fire ground as those before us. We must use image and video to see how fire lives, breathes and moves. Imagine yourself on that scene making a split second decision then acting in a manner as if it was happening now. Resisting the urge to cast stones without knowing all sides is difficult to do. As I recently fell prey to this very notion. Do not focus on what “they” do, focus on your response, your actions. Take these situations and build your personal slide show so when you are “that guy” you will have the advantage.
An image is worth a thousand words, those words can also be lies. Do we have the facts, do we know the situation? A photo can stir emotion and action. A video can be misguided as it is from a certain point of view. Consider the following when reacting to an image or video.
- Do not confuse peer pressure as conviction.
- Do not mistake genius for lack of talent.
- An image can be used to capture the moment or tell a lie.
- Our senses react to time and space. Behind a keyboard is in a different space then the operation.
- Absorb the intent of the captured image, why was this taken and what purpose does it serve.
- Consider your reaction before reacting. What compels you to act?
Our time is unique, continue to capture our world. Be an artist, find emotion and the human spirit in life’s canvas. As a Fire Service Professional document what we do and why. Use our collection of imagery to empower our people to be at our best. Perhaps the next image you see will tell the story of a Firefighter and their courage, bravery, honor, pride and conviction to help fellow man. Decide to advocate for positive change, if the opposite is seized.
You will read on this site in various posts about A Culture of Self Improvement. I believe very strongly in this concept and try to surround myslef with others that express these same traits. Most of you know that my time has been spent working on Fire Training Toolbox with John and Chris. Why? Two Firefighters that are living examples of the self improving culture.
Yesterday John posted on his blog a short read on a new type of interior stair. He was alerted to this by another Midwest Training Officer. John’s area of “interest” is building construction, more so green construction. When ever he can share vital information in this area he shares, even if it as simple as posting someone elses work.
Too many times we hoard “nuggets.” We want to have an edge on others, a wild card to use in situations. Sometimes it is okay to keep these bits to yourself, especially if you are an Instructor using your “treasure chest” of tricks in classes you teach. The end result should always end with you sharing. John shares because he wants every Firefighter to understand what they could face in new construction. Chris Sterricker shares so all may benefit from lessons that are taught everyday on the battlefield. I share to keep everyone in the game, till the final buzzer so we may celebrate our successes and passion together.
Today’s face paced, social media reliant world keeps us up to date by the second. Use these tools to learn, share and pass it on. The butt it might save, is your own.
For a few websites that understand the value of sharing information and improving ourselves daily visit.
Training is a collection of ideas passed on based upon one ideology, the greater good. On the training ground we speak in vowels, constanants and numbers. Taking these letters and numbers to the fire ground where sentences and paragraphs are created, forged by hour after hour of “learning the alphabet.” Firefighting is learning a second language, you know what you want to say, yet you cannot form all the words to convey your message. “It’s just a saw, it’s just a ladder.” No, these are not simple tools for simple work. These are givers of life, protectors of property. Broken translations can injure and maim, the training ground builds phrases and accents, so we may speak the language of fire eloquently. One must never utter “I did not know” as this does not translate to our cultures dialect. One may only speak “Now I know, I have learned” after their vocabulary has increased. Every lesson we learn, is a smaller piece to the greater puzzle – standard, successful operations.