Are you planting trees, or feeling the pull of gravity?



When is the best time to plant a tree?  Twenty years ago. When is the second best time to plant a tree? Now!

– Proverb

I know where I need to be and what I should be doing, but the motivation, sometimes, is not here.  The work to be done is daunting and includes the not so fun stuff. Holding people accountable, making a decision that is not popular and the rare occasion in which I realize I am wrong and need to regroup (lol).

How do I get the tree planted today? One step at a time. Movement overcomes the pull of   gravity from the tasks. Like Nike says, “Just Do It”!

My writing has fallen off (gravity), my exercise has all but ceased (gravity), but today is the day to plant the tree. Today is the day I find my flow of movement.

“Someone sits in the shade of a tree today, because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”


My question today is; Are you planting trees or are you just sitting in the shade? What are you doing?


There are no jerks, just different personalities.

Research shows we are quick to attribute someone’s “different” actions/words to a persons controlled attitude or behavior. When the shoe is on the other foot, we believe our own actions/words are a result of our situation or environment. Surely we can’t be the same as the jerk? -Right?-  Wrong!

We are all the same with some varying hard-wired circuitry in our brains that form our personality preferences. If you are right-handed and try to write with your left hand, it is very awkward.  The comfort of writing with a familiar hand is the same comfort we feel when acting/talking through the day. Whether or not you are an extrovert or introvert or you are more of a judger or perceiver, you are who you are.  Everyone else is actually like – no one else. Most importantly those others, are really not jerks, they are just who their personality preference shapes them to be.

The co-worker who is the downer or the one that questions everything you do is really not a bad person, they may be more comfortable within the frame of questioning or diligent oversight of tasks. When you understand it is usually not malicious, you can serve their individual personality comforts with what makes them tick (details, vision and clarity).  Usually the friction between people is really just misunderstood personality traits.

Personality isn’t something you can just change; it is more efficient to understand who you are and play to your strengths.  There are no “bad” personality preferences.  I’ll say this again, “there are no bad personality preferences”…  People will have varying degrees of personal strengths based on their brain circuitry. Personality will shine based on situation, degree of preference and the synergistic effect of another person’s personality. Understanding this is why people do and say what they do, should alleviate frustrations.  Rather than trying to convince someone you’re right they’re not, look at it from their personality and then re-think your approach, or maybe be open to the other side.

Communications is much more than just speaking or listening.  It is also reading the personality preferences of those around you and adjusting your message so that they understand you better.  It also helps if you can explain the whole personality type phenomenon to those close to you so they might understand you rather than thinking you’re the jerk….

Parting shot: Would love to hear your thoughts about the guy/gal who has always been “that” way. I would wager that’s just their comfort zone shining through and the perception you may hold could be the other side.  What do you think they would say about you?

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How are we doing?

passes analysis chart

It’s that time of year when we all look back and recount how we did over the past 365 days. I hope every department is reviewing the benchmarks they set for themselves last year and measuring their successes. More importantly what can be improved over the next year.
There is nothing worse than having an incredibly successful year of progress and thinking that you have found the secret recipe of operating. We can never sit idle in the belief that we’re there. Our profession is one that will never reach a pinnacle or state of dominance in the market. We must strive for a balance of safe communities and the flexibility to grow with community’s ability to fund the operation.
The fire service is steeped in a traditional service model that is struggling in today’s economy. How can we continue to safely deliver our service with less ? If your reading this post, today is your lucky day. I will give you the secret to sustaining your service with less….

Think outside of the box.

How we’ve always done it, will not survive in a shrinking budget. The traditional model is based on growth to maintain whatever level your service is at.  I would venture a guess that whatever your service delivery is today, it can use some improving.

Step 1; Analyze your service delivery.

  • Does your delivery times match acceptable levels to be effective? (NFPA 1710/20)
  • Are you able to muster the needed resources to be effective? (NFPA 1710/20)
  • Are your prevention measures adequate to address target potentials and new growth?
  • How successful were your responses over the last year?
  • How many education contacts did you make last year? (Schools, Apartments, Elderly, other targets)
  • Can you show a direct correlation between your efforts and a reduction of incidents?

Step 2; Adjust operations to meet an improvement goal for next year.

  • Targeted training to better an area of needed improvement.
  • Strategically position resources to better serve actual service demands.
  • Enlist outside resources to assist with goal attainment.
  • Explore models of success in other agencies.
  • Re-direct budget funding towards effect programs.
Step 3; Repeat.

These steps are familiar or should be. It is what every fire service leader has been taught for years. The difference that I’m writing about, is to do these steps with the dynamics of changing and moving resources that you have. If you keep good records, you should have some predictability in service demands and what causes them. (In other word, where are the calls, what are they and what is causing them). Address these points, make them go away, or at least decrease.

An example of my ranting; a neighboring department had a high demand for EMS in their service area. Unable to garner more staff, they created “squads” that were large EMS units (4-door) that carried firefighting gear as well. These squads were put into service in the areas of need without drawing more manning into the budget. The data showed that the EMS service demands did not necessarily coincide with fire demands. No brainer, use EMS units when needed and then shift those units to fire units when needed. I know the arguments, and I’ll debate their thin. We have to address the needs, not the “what ifs.”  Remember, outside the box, (Tradition vs. Progress)

This is not the only method to address service efficiency. Every area of our business needs to be evaluated and then brainstormed for better ways of doing it. Start with looking back over the past year and discussing how to do it better next year. And then be open to do things differently.