Spring Cleaning

Sometimes I start a blog post and don't like how it sounds, so I may bench it for a time where it sparks my interest.  I started this last year and just came back through it again.  

I was thinking about a time where I was helping a family "in need" to spruce up their home.  We were doing a lot of work to the person's yard and some interior patchwork, but I remember wondering how this home got in this condition to begin with.  There were members of the family standing around and not so nicely critiquing the effort a stranger was making on their own time, out of their own pocket, to fix up their family home. I also remember I was thinking, if it was so important to you, why didn’t you step up and fix it yourself?

While there are any number of things we can talk about in that regard, I’m just going to share this one today.  It is the reality that we can polish the outside of the house and fix the cosmetic damage, but if the foundation is unsound, it’s just a matter of time before the place falls apart anyway.  Given the short amount of time we were spending, this home would become acceptable for a period of time, but the overall neglect of the structure for many years only doomed it to eventual failure.

If you truly want organizational success, putting a shine on everything is nice, but the heart of the issues lie at the hearts of the people involved. Together, all that we do, especially in the promotion of our core values and our mission, all works together with shiny fire trucks and ambulances, the uniformity of deployment, procedures, etc.. to create a strong structure. But without the strong foundation of shared values, the organization will not be a lasting success.

Efforts to progress should be positively directed forward, not looking backward, except in an effort to gain perspective. Even then, our look in the rear-view mirror should be brief. If we stare at the rear-view long enough, we are bound to crash into what is in front of us. 

  • firefighter zero

    I read these kind of posts quite often. We are banging our heads against the wall trying to find out how to get people to get more involved with the dept. Take pride in the station and trucks and do the job the community is paying taxes for. They all seem to cherry pick calls, if they show up at all, leave early from trainings, scream about there social life and sleep needs, and basically cause trouble. the dept. is split right down the middle in terms of numbers. Some respond to 65-75% of the calls and some respond to 1-5% of the calls. When the top responders start dragging a@@ and ask the other guys to help out, the five per centers get red in the face and say that they have a puppy to take care of or a busy social life. We are out of ideas. Sorry for venting at you, I am sure there is not a magic bullet for commitment.

    • http://firehousezen.com/ Mick Mayers

      I hear you. Unfortunately this is a common situation these days. There are so many competing interests that doing this one, which has a lot of requirements in order to stay proficient, much less than trying to excel, this one is a struggle sometimes. To me, it is a question of how do we inject our own personal passion into the job. When we have passion for doing something, it is infectious, that is, if the people around you aren’t so far gone that they can’t be brought back around. Sounds like it is time to decide if those “five percenters” really contribute to the bottom line and if they are sucking the life out of you, cut them off. That said, sometimes it is best to take the five percent they give you and be thankful you got even that much. But it definitely sounds like you have a challenge ahead of you. Good luck.

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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.

FE Talk: Humpday Hangout

Recent Posts
Career Change December 13, 2014
Think Fast November 29, 2014
Mick Mayers
Someone I Would Have Liked To Have Known
Ruth, Thanks for the comment, although like Tom said, you missed my point. What I was saying is that I am honored and impressed that someone who not so long ago would not have been given a chance - for reasons of race and gender- was given those accolades. She is someone I would have…
2014-12-12 11:24:00
Tom Bouthillet
Someone I Would Have Liked To Have Known
There are plenty of white males who don't deserve to be firefighters. The most qualified individual should get the job regardless of race or gender. That doesn't always happen for a variety of reasons that don't need to be hashed out here. But way to miss Chief Mayers' point entirely.
2014-12-11 12:08:00
Ruth Phillips
Someone I Would Have Liked To Have Known
I've heard of all of these "substandard candidates brought in to fill a role" taking the jobs from those who truly "desire the job and are willing to embrace the lifestyle of a firefighter." Do you mean people of color and women taking the jobs from the more deserving, uh, white male? I'm baffled as…
2014-12-11 04:21:00
Think Fast
My best friend once described flying in 'hard' IFR like being inside a giant ping-pong ball... everywhere you look, featureless white. I've appropriated that to describe people who seem to go through life in their own personal ping-pong balls. Apropos of the bumper sticker "I can't see you so don't pretend to be there."
2014-12-09 04:21:00
Mick Mayers
Leadership That Matters, Part 7
George, Thanks for reading! Yes, I'll actually do that this week. And I actually downloaded that same meme myself a few days ago- I like it.
2014-12-06 15:25:00

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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.

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