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John Lightly's Blog (22)

Firefighter Costumes

In just a few short days, a time-honored tradition will once again take place. Across the country, people will spend their hard-earned money to buy sweet sugary nectar and then hand the treats to complete strangers under threat of tricks. There will be ghosts, ghouls, and goblins galore. There will be princesses, action heroes, and the ever-present “what are you, honey?” costumes that look nothing like what they’re alleged to be.  Just smile and affirm them.  Unless it's an old-…

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Added by John Lightly on October 15, 2019 at 7:30am — No Comments

Leadership Is Given Not Achieved

Much has been written about leadership. Everywhere you turn there are books, podcasts, blogs and so on about the subject. Please consider one more article about it, though.

Leadership is not something you do, it’s something you are given.

I would contend that no one becomes a leader. They are given leadership. I can read all the books or attend every seminar I want to on the subject and still not be a leader. I can have influence,…

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Added by John Lightly on September 16, 2019 at 6:05am — No Comments

Break the cycle

     A cycle is something that gets repeated over time. They are also known as habits, routines, or standard ways of doing things. They are typically thought of as self-perpetuating, meaning they are capable of continuing or renewing themselves indefinitely. Once something is put into motion it will keep creating the conditions needed to continue.

     But sometimes the cycle needs to be broken. This is certainly true when it’s a negative cycle we find ourselves in. If we don’t…

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Added by John Lightly on August 21, 2019 at 10:00am — No Comments

Stretching the First Line

     Social media is full of debates, discussions, and general arguments resulting in name-calling on where water should be applied from. One camp is firm in its belief that fast water from whatever location or position is the best. The other camp belittles anyone who does not immediately initiate an aggressive interior attack. This debate has been going on for decades, really, it is now just being rehashed in a different format, that being the internet.

     What often gets…

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Added by John Lightly on July 17, 2019 at 1:48pm — No Comments

Hardship is the price of success

I recently heard this statement in a podcast by Stephen Mansfield. Though I’ve heard variations of it in other places, the way he said it made me stop mowing the lawn and pay closer attention.

It’s a simple statement, yet it’s packed with reality. The point of it is that life can be a struggle, success hinges on how you face up to those struggles.

We teach our kids from their earliest moments this lesson. When a baby is first learning to walk and keeps falling,…

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Added by John Lightly on June 15, 2019 at 10:11am — No Comments

Surviving a Toxic Environment

Chief Halton stated in his FDIC 2019 keynote what many of us have said before- ”Firefighting is the best damn job we’ve ever had.” He is 100% correct. This is the best job there is, and I can think of nothing that I’d rather be doing. Although, being a cowboy on a ranch in Colorado or Wyoming with a view of the Rockies wouldn’t be bad either!

But let’s be honest. Sometimes the best job gets you down because of the toxic environment that you find yourself in. People, politics,…

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Added by John Lightly on May 13, 2019 at 7:55am — No Comments

Applications from FDIC 2019

     Having been blessed to attend FDIC 2019 last week in Indianapolis, I’d like to humbly offer some takeaways that can be applied to most any situation in life.

1. It’s important to get out of your comfort zone

     I think it’s safe to say that humans are creatures of habit. We are generally content to stick with what is familiar to us, especially the more introverted we are. As firefighters, we like being in control of things and have an intense belief that…

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Added by John Lightly on April 16, 2019 at 10:50am — No Comments

Parents Not Mentors

A mentor is defined as a trusted counselor or guide, someone who may be an influential sponsor or supporter. A coach is one who instructs or trains. These are terms that are used everywhere in our culture of leadership and personal development books, podcasts, and lecture series. A mentor is viewed as that old sage who takes us under their wing to give us little snippets of wisdom and tweetable quotes. The personal coaching industry has a large market share in business circles and seems to…

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Added by John Lightly on March 30, 2019 at 8:13pm — No Comments

Faith in Your Mission

From the book Building Leaders the West Point Way by General Joseph P. Franklin US Army (retired)



Page 41... “From the last rung of the ladder to the top, everyone has to have faith in their mission.”

But what happens when you don’t have faith in your mission? How do you have faith when you don’t believe in the leader? Check that, not the leader but the person in charge. Big difference there. How do you continue on when the whole organization is on edge,…

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Added by John Lightly on March 3, 2019 at 5:58pm — No Comments

Debating Cancer Prevention Techniques

For some time now, cancer in the fire service has been a hot topic leading to passionate pleas and spirited debates. It seems there has recently been an even bigger uptick in the “air time” that cancer is getting in articles, on social media, and in presentations across the country. Everywhere you look, it seems that a new study is being conducted, results are out from a study completed, or a new way of doing things is making the rounds.

We all agree that cancer is a major concern for…

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Added by John Lightly on February 12, 2019 at 8:30am — No Comments

Preplanning Tracks in the Snow

     A major portion of the United States was just hit with a pretty decent snowstorm. My area in NE Ohio was no exception, getting anywhere from 10”-16” of the white stuff. As I left my shift in the darkness and headed home, it was no surprise that the main roads were plowed while the side streets were still untouched. The majority of the business parking lots were unplowed as well, likely due to the fact that many would be closed that day for MLK Jr. observance, and thus, didn’t need to be…

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Added by John Lightly on January 22, 2019 at 8:35am — No Comments

Challenge Crushed!

My first FireEngineering Training Network blog post was on the pushup challenge I undertook for the year.  The guys over at http://firefighterfunctionalfitness.com/ put out the challenge to do 100 pushups, every day, for the entire year.  Thinking that this wouldn't be very hard, I took the challenge.  

I'm proud to say, that not only did I complete the challenge, but I crushed it!  I viewed…

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Added by John Lightly on December 31, 2018 at 3:33pm — No Comments

Communication Thoughts for Officers

Rank might bring privileges, but it doesn’t necessarily equal leadership. You may have the authority that comes with the badge, however, this does not mean that your subordinates will follow you. The trust and willingness on their part to follow you must be earned. One way to quickly earn trust, and therefore, leadership, is through having good communication skills.

Communication only happens when both parties hear and understand what has been said. Until then, it’s just words being…

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Added by John Lightly on December 6, 2018 at 7:26pm — No Comments

Creating Instructors

“I think I taught you how to be instructors, but I don’t know if I taught you how to pass the state test.”  This is what I told my class of fire instructor students at the end of the course today. It’s a shame, really, when you think about it.  

For the past number of weeks, I have been pouring my time, mind, and heart into the course, trying to make it informative, relevant, and useful.  I have taught them…

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Added by John Lightly on November 8, 2018 at 7:45pm — No Comments

Lessons from Civilian Fatalities

Recently, I found myself in the unenviable position of Incident Commander at a house fire that resulted in a civilian fatality. We arrived to find heavy fire from multiple rooms and witnesses telling us that people were inside. An aggressive interior attack and search operations were begun with the 2 first arriving units and supplemented with later arriving companies. One victim was pulled unresponsive from the home and transported by the ambulance provider. The individual later died, the…

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Added by John Lightly on October 15, 2018 at 4:48pm — No Comments

Two Steps Forward

Two steps forward and one step back. Ever use that phrase to describe the progress with yourself, your relationships, or your workplace? It is generally used as a negative. You are in essence saying that you are not accomplishing your goals. But is this really the case?

Shouldn’t we really be using this phrase in a positive light? Two steps are greater than one step. Going forward is certainly preferred and going backward is seen as being a failure. However, isn’t the important part…

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Added by John Lightly on September 30, 2018 at 8:06pm — No Comments

Communication on the Court

My life has recently taken on a new role: Junior High volleyball parent. I have two daughters playing this sport for the first time. In fact, 98% of their team is playing for the first time. Which is to say, the team isn’t very good. Success is not being measured in wins but in the improvements of technique and fundamentals.

In addition, I’ve had the opportunity to start “serving my time” as a line judge for some of the games. The chance to be on the court and see the game from a…

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Added by John Lightly on September 27, 2018 at 9:53am — No Comments

Fantasy Football for Firefighters

The Fall season of Fantasy Football is upon us. With the beginning of the National Football League schedule this weekend, hundreds of thousands of fantasy leagues are getting underway. Online accounts are being made, draft parties are being planned, and player stats are being scrutinized.

Full disclosure: I don’t do fantasy football. Not against it, just not my thing. So maybe my perspective is a bit biased, but I don’t think it is. Bear with me for a minute.

Quite frankly, I…

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Added by John Lightly on September 6, 2018 at 7:09pm — No Comments

Back to School for Fire instructors

Across the country, school systems are gearing up for another academic year. Teachers are excited about their new classroom design. Students are looking forward to getting back to their friends. Parents are ecstatic to get the kids out of the house again!

This time of year is also when many fire training academies get back underway. It may be a new recruit academy or a local technical center aimed at volunteers. Large urban department training centers with all the trimmings or small…

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Added by John Lightly on August 20, 2018 at 3:56pm — No Comments

An opportunity for change

What word seems to strike fear into the hearts of firefighters everywhere? Change. Career or volunteer, senior man or rookie, the word sends up red flags and defenses whenever it is mentioned. We tend to be skeptical of the person proposing change as maybe something has been tried (and failed miserably) in the past. We see it as an infringement on our operational status quo with which we are quite comfortable. Some departments even view their resistance to change as some kind of badge of…

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Added by John Lightly on August 10, 2018 at 7:14pm — No Comments

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