By Mark vonAppen
All of my life I have been known as a bit of a trouble maker. I have pushed limits and challenged authority. In the process, I have trampled a path that few have chosen to follow. Sometimes it's a lonely place. I feel like I have no home, I find my place where I ramble.
The limit pushing and challenging of authority continued after my appointment as a career firefighter. Until recently, I struggled with this identity, pushing forward and standing in front with a huge bulls eye on my back only to have the organization punch me repeatedly in the face. I began walking the fence as I tried to be a crowd pleaser, attempting to appeal to everyone. In doing so, I have felt reined in, put in a box, metaphorically bound and gagged (my emails are still screened). I felt average and frustrated. I was out of the flow path.
No more. So here it comes.
Respect is far more important than approval. I start trouble over matters of principle, not in a sophomorish attempt at capturing the spotlight. I have never stirred up trouble simply for trouble's sake. I am outspoken on issues that I am passionate about, usually regarding education in the fire service, high standards of performance, and treating people right. On these issues I will not waiver, my standards will not be compromised. If that alienates some, so be it. If you agree with what I say, but not how I said it, so be it. If you don't like me, so be it. I own it.