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     Every adversity you and the team you are leading will ever encounter is either a problem or an opportunity. Although one might think there are many different variables that would distinguish one from the other, there is really only one difference between the two – YOUR ATTITUDE. That’s right. Often times the difference between a problem and an opportunity has everything to do with how you look at the challenge at hand.

     Opportunities exist everywhere, but they are often disguised as challenges and/or problems. Of course, the opportunities may not always be so obvious, but they are always there, no matter how dire the situation appears. Problems are obstacles, but leadership is about overcoming obstacles. The level of success you and your team will achieve will be in direct proportion with your ability to adapt and overcome. Show me a championship team that has beaten the odds in any arena and I will show you a team that has a leader who has mastered the art of overcoming.

     In the fire service, we fight fires, overcome challenges, and prepare for new fires and new challenges. The fire we fought yesterday is yesterday’s news because no two fires are the same. We have to prepare to fight another – different – fire tomorrow.

     As a leader, your job is to prepare for success. Hope is not a strategy. You will certainly have to take calculated risks along your journey because it’s the only way to put yourself in a position to achieve bigger goals. However, things can and often will go wrong at one point or another. Much of your success will be a result of your ability to solve problems. Firefighters know this better than anybody else. They exist to solve problems. When it comes to leading a team, great things often follow adversity, if you have the guts to face it head on and not use it as an excuse to fail. Every time you overcome an obstacle, you become stronger, wiser and more capable. 

     The next time you are in a room full of your peers, look around and pick the person who has achieved the highest level of success. You will also be looking at the person who has failed the most. These people look at challenges and failure differently than most. They understand that crisis is not the developer of character. Crisis is the greatest revealer of character. They understand that once a person deals with and overcomes big problems, they equip themselves with confidence, ability, and the proper mindset to be able to do it again.

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