Modesty is a personal trait among many in the Fire Service. Taking the time to view the profiles just in this community you can find this. "Area of expertise: Always a student, expert of none, always learning" are a few examples. There may be those who still "high-five" each other on the front lawn after a good job, but for the most part we are humbled to serve our fellow man.
A Culture of Self Improvement (click for the intro post) has a powerful foe, complacency. One particular definition of complacency ‘smug satisfaction with an existing situation’ has great value when exemplifying improvement. Have you heard the phrase "2 and 20" two years on the job with twenty years of experience? For those who have not, this is usually said about a new firefighter that have very little time in yet knows it all and has seen it all. What about the "20 and 2", this member has an attitude of “been there, done that” because they have been on the job for twenty years. However, does their twenty years of service equate to twenty years of experience?
Are you or someone you know always out of town or not on shift every time your crew, station or department catches a fire? The engine may get hours added on the pump, but how many of those were you gaining exposure on? We cannot control how much fire we see, but we do control how prepared for fire we are. The twenty-year member may have very few working fires under their belt and when they are satisfied with their own performance (aka training to improve their skills, knowledge and attitude) declines. Do we hear the same banter from both the "2:20" and "20:2", "I know how to do that, I don't need to train."
Another behavior that can destroy a culture of self-improvement is the “attention seeker”. These individuals may brag and boast how much they know. Do not mistake this for pride in ones work or sharing information so that others improve. When the attention seeker feels uncomfortable, they will try to manage the situation by bringing up a previous fire when they were successful. Attention seekers may also use negative statements to gain pity or divert the form of attention they are receiving. The class clown personality type should come to mind.
Self-improvement must be a conscious thought and actively pursued. When sitting down to write this morning, I started out wanting to share the new training module John Shafer and I created. While trying to decide which direction I wanted to go, it was evident that if every opportunity to increase my own performance was taken, I was modeling a culture of self-improvement. Whether it is performing a hands on pump training or using a thesaurus so my writing is more vehement, my personal improvement is exigent to overall growth. Not only is this important as a Firefighter, but as a person. Never stop learning, always be a student of the Fire Service and life.
Make today a day of self-improvement. Visit http://engineco22.net where you can find FREE Online training that can be completed in 30 minutes or less. Shameless plug I know but I am very vehement (passionate) about training!