Almost Good Enough

Pseudoladder.  Could pass as a truck company in some places.

Pseudoladder. Could pass as a truck company in some places.

What does it mean to be “good enough”? Is being good enough sufficient to meet the needs of our customers? Is it good enough to meet safety requirements? Is being “good enough” good enough to keep civilians from being killed, much less firefighters?

When we establish a standard, the document is a minimum definition of what is “good enough”.  While standards may prove irksome to people, those standards keep what is featured in the attached picture from being termed a “truck company” in some communities.  When we have standards it keeps the old “five bubbas, a pound hound and a pickup truck” example that I like to use from time to time from being called an “urban search and rescue task force”.

As an officer, and more accurately, a leader, what is “good enough” for you to proclaim that title?  Is it a minimum standard of education and experience?  Or was it that you had the lowest social security number?  Or even worse, was it because you are a “nice guy”?  That would be the ol’ elected standard, in some places.

In most businesses, unless you are related to the boss by blood or marriage, there are certain standards required for achieving the pinnacle of success in your company.  It may very well have been that you were the person who lasted the longest, but chances are that you had some kind of a spark of leadership somewhere if someone decided to put you in charge.  Fogging a mirror might not be the only criteria, but if you fogged it the best, maybe that was the deciding factor.

As a leader in emergency services, “good enough” gets personnel injured or killed.  ”Good enough” costs the public millions of dollars in waste.  ”Good enough” is the price for an annual fire loss that leads all industrialized nations.  So long as we continue to settle for the status quo, “good enough” is good enough.

If you fail to recognize that just being good enough isn’t, take this as a call to achieve more than that.  By establishing vision, promoting core values, declaring a mission and goals, and doing something to tie all those things together, you take your team from existing to succeeding.   By seeking innovation and more effective practices, we strive for excellence.  By observing the mistakes of others and instead of ridiculing those people, learning constructively from their experience, we avoid having to make the hard (and painful) mistakes ourselves.

No one reading this probably feels like “good enough” is the answer to anything; by reading this, it shows you are probably interested in motivating yourself and your team and are looking for answers.  If anything, be reassured, “good enough” has killed and injured more of us than any one factor, by way of heart attacks, falls, drownings, vehicle accidents, and any other number of causes of firefighter deaths.  It shows itself in complacency and in acceptance that what the current situation is cannot be altered.  I challenge you to look into your soul and wonder if by standing around and doing nothing, you were leading, or simply accepting your role in the line.

Be excellent and strive for being the best.  It will keep you and your crew alive and it will better serve the public you are charged with protecting.

background image Blogger Img

Michael "Mick" Mayers

Deputy Fire Chief - Operations Division for Hilton Head Island (SC) Fire Rescue and an Emergency Response Coordinator with the United States Department of Health and Human Services  National Disaster Medical System Incident Response Coordination Team.
Recent Posts
Jumping Through Hoops August 4, 2014
Questioning Heroism July 13, 2014
Compassion July 2, 2014
Making Lightning June 22, 2014
Colin Fanning
The Roto-Ray: Beauty or Beast?
One of the most important facts we reviewed when deciding on the roto ray purchase was this; With the speeds of traffic on SC 278, by the time people heard the sirens on our fire trucks our light bars (on top of the roof) were out of sight. The roto ray, with its mounted location…
2014-07-25 15:07:00
Mick Mayers
Questioning Heroism
Thanks, Bryan! I genuinely believe I do and they tend to reward me with professionalism, innovation, and compassion to our citizens daily. That's something I am happy to facilitate.
2014-07-15 04:10:00
Bryan G. Riebe
Questioning Heroism
Chief, appreciated in your response to Geoff that you work for the FFs. Believe if more Chiefs lived that philosophy our fire services would be bastions of honor, ethics, and human potential.
2014-07-15 00:05:00
Christopher Roy
Questioning Heroism
Geoff, EMS, as its own service, does not have a strong voice and in turn, does not get the respect in the media/public that it does deserve. I do hope that changes. EMS doesn't have a home either, and that doesn't help. There are so many different delivery methods in this country that its probably…
2014-07-14 23:49:00
Mick Mayers
Questioning Heroism
I'm sorry you feel that way, Geoff. The department I work with has been doing EMS (advanced care AND transport) with cross-trained personnel for over twenty years and doing a pretty good job. Our community expects a certain level of service that we have been able to provide through that model and while not every…
2014-07-14 22:01:00

Michael "Mick" Mayers' Discussions

Follow Michael "Mick" Mayers


Although I am affiliated or employed by certain entities, I in no way speak in this forum or others on behalf of those entities unless I have specifically stated such. Any implication otherwise is doing so contrary to my agreements with those entities. The result is that the observations and opinions by myself or on behalf of Firehouse Zen are not sanctioned by any other entity other than Graffiti Train Sherpa Publications and are protected by the copyright laws of the United States of America.

FireEMS Blogs eNewsletter

Sign-up to receive our free monthly eNewsletter