TFCA 2012

Do you consider yourself a professional? Most trades that require a specific knowledge or training do. From construction, manufacturing, sales and service, all will be acknowledged a professional at some point and time.

When I studied the origins of the term “professional”, it took me through history.  In the pre-industrial world, a professional was an elite highly educated person that was established as a pro by a long study capped by a societal recognition, (Doctor, Layer, etc.).  Today, almost every trade has a board that recognizes their specialty as a profession.

So where do firefighters fall into the “professional” strata? Training, and credentialing and more than anything else, public acceptance. Although many States do not regulate firefighter credentials, it is up to you as an individual to embrace the profession as one that demands high standards in training and performance. Being “highly trained” will set you apart, even within the fire service. One of the biggest pieces of the professional status is your reputation in the public eye.  Your customers aren’t as impressed with your credentials as they are with how you treat them. How you make someone feel will be remembered long after the incident is over.

I have heard many a salty dog tell me that their years of service has given them a PhD of the job.  I have also heard many highly papered officers embarrass me with their lack of operational knowledge. Somewhere in between the “profession” must regulate itself with accountability of our performance to stay inline with our mission.

Becoming a pro, in the end, is nothing grander than growing up.  Steven Pressfield –

A professional is someone who is trained in an expertise that separates them from others not trained. There are many variations of the definition, I like Merriam Webster’s take;
(1) : characterized by or conforming to the technical or
ethical standards of a profession (2) : exhibiting a
courteous, conscientious, and generally
businesslike manner in the workplace.
If you think you are a professional because you get “paid” for your work, you may be missing the boat…. Set yourself apart from others by being a professional at all times.

Parting shot; What happen to firefighters being skilled tradesmen?  Have we lost our way somewhere along the line chasing a professional status?  what say you?


photo credit: Texas Fire Chief’s Academy 2012


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?

Stop Talking Start Communicating

Stop Talking Start Communicating

Please check out Dr. Tumlin’s book. There is no better advice in life or business than this book. Should be a mandatory read.

Who’s driving?

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. You are the guy who’ll decide where to go.” -Dr. Seuss

Are you a follower or a leader? A watcher or a performer? Who did you influence today?  I believe we all fall into both titles to varying degrees every day, but when you reflect on your day, which one will you be remembered for?

Great validation to StrengthsFinder assessments.

Young Life Perception

Everybody Knows of Somebody They Just Can’t Stand

It doesn’t matter how charming somebody’s personality comes off as because there will always be some people that person just can’t seem to get along with. It’s almost as though just the presence of some people is enough to drive us crazy for seemingly no reason at all. For many people this is an indicator that the person in question should just be kept at a distance instead of trying to get to know them.

As humans we have a system of judging people that at first relies on the first impression that someone gives off. Everybody has to start developing a mental image of a person before they are able to get to know them better. The beginning of this process happens in the first 5 to 10 seconds of meeting someone. In many cases a bad first impression scares off…

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How to do, is how to be..

Follow Me

Shaping an organization starts with a long look in the mirror. No matter how much I want everyone to embrace an idea or philosophy, it takes inspiration for people to move to action. This inspiration will only come from the one they see and respect as a leader. If you,  the leader, actually walks the walk then the example will be validated that your actions back up your vision. If you walk the walk with passion, your vision will take flight with purpose. When a group rallies around a purpose and can see the inspiration to action from a passionate leader, you cannot fail.

Leadership is a gift, given by those who follow, General Mark Welsh

Reinforcement of your vision will be necessary as well. Just because you give an impassioned speech to the troops doesn’t mean a week later they will remember what you said. Even when your walking the walk, don’t expect those around you to maintain the same enthusiasm without a dose of motivation on a regular basis. One thing to avoid in this tactic is motivation without any sight of movement. If your ideas aren’t getting traction, the followers will lose faith that what your selling is nothing more than just that, an idea. When traction occurs, highlight the action with more motivation. Don’t let the movement stall without an adjustment to create more traction.

Give credit where credit is due, with those followers that actually make it happen. It doesn’t matter whose idea it was, it matters who put legs under it and birth the idea into action. Followers live for accomplishing goals inline with their purpose. Connect these two and you begin designing a culture. Followers want to accomplish more to take them down the road towards the destination of purpose.

There is a lot more to building a culture that embraces challenges that some fear as change. It all starts with who their leader is and what he/she looks like to the masses. An organization can sniff out insincerity a mile away. You cannot fake your passion and example of leadership. You can try it. Once.

We all make mistakes along the way. How you handle the mistakes will also define who you are in their eyes. Be humble, honest and open about your actions. If you stumble, make sure it’s with grace. Never compromise your ethics. Stand up in front of the group and own any failures or mistakes that come from honest effort. Mistakes and failures can actually reinforce your respect as a leader depending on how you handle them. Honesty maintains trust in that others see who you profess to be, the leader. We are not always right, but we try.

 I have not failed. I’ve just found 10000 ways that won’t work. ~Thomas Edison

Parting shot;  Leadership is how to be, not how to do… Frances Hesselbein