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There is a certain speech that I am getting tired of suffering through. I have heard it time and time again, and I'm sure there are scores of other "rogues" out there in the same position. The speech I am referring to is the one about not getting discouraged. Sound familiar?

I am going to throw up if I have to hear this again. Please understand that I realize the delivery of the speech is usually done with kind intentions. I'm not trying to kill the messenger. Here is what I can't handle any more:

The only ones getting this speech are the ones with their boots in the trenches bucking a system which rewards complacency and mediocrity. You will never hear a minimum standard firefighter getting this speech.

Why is this? Probably because the minimum standard firefighters fit perfectly into the minimum standard system they are a part of. They exist in a perfect situation where all they have to worry about is whether or not their cell phone battery will make it through the shift. They have no pressing reason to be discouraged, at least when it comes to anything firefighting related.

Of course the easy answer would be to stop caring so much, to stop trying so hard. Slipping into the mediocre mainstream would be an instant release from the feelings of discouragement us rogues deal with. The system would love for us to fall into line with the masses. Unfortunately for the mediocrity crowd, we don't know how to give up.

We realize that fighting for what is right and going up against the masses is going to result in failure and discouragement. What the givers of the "discouragement" speech don't realize is that we feed off of the struggle. Not to say that we enjoy getting ridiculed and slammed for our position, but in the end the mockery and indifference only add to our passion.

So this is where I am going with all of this. The next time you feel the need to deliver the "don't get discouraged" speech save your breath. If you are not willing to step up to the plate and add something substantial to yourself and this great calling then step aside. Us rogues don't need to be taken aside and given a pep talk. We feed off of each other. We feed off of the satisfaction that comes from the endless fight for excellence we all pursue. We feed off of seeing other being made uncomfortable by our passion and drive. We are not going away, and we are not going to slow down. Discouraged? It comes with the territory my friend. 

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Comment by Art "Chief Reason" Goodrich on January 18, 2014 at 12:50pm


You sound discouraged by attempts to be encouraged.

I sense that you find those little motivational moments to be condescending and uninspiring.

I want to party with you!

I can't begin to count the number of times those around me tried to discourage me. And when I would articulate the moment, I was usually given a Knute Rockne (he and Bobby H. were team mates!) speech by my listener. I would politely listen, but the fact is that I can't remember ever being discouraged. Maybe frustrated, but mostly pissed. And when I got pissed, I mobilized.

Discouragement and DISPASSION are ugly cousins. I believe that people who try to discourage us are trying to suck the passion out of us. And those who hang on to their passion; well, they become the leaders.

With regards to mediocrity; I think that it exists as a by-product over lowered expectations. Small communities are still taking all comers, regardless of height and width; we are still addressing diversity in some parts of the country by dumbing down the test and changing CPATs into armchair aerobics.

And at this very moment, manufacturers of rescue tools are researching ways to make their tools operate from a Smartphone. We already have tools that can be used with one hand, because the other is usually wrapped around a cell phone.

Feed the passion, buddy. I'm here to help.

Stay safe.



Comment by Cody S. Anderson on January 11, 2014 at 3:58pm

Great words. It does my heart good to see that this problem doesn't just exist in my department. Discouragement is a constant struggle for me and my like-minded brothers (on our job we are not referred to as "rogues" but as "BYMs" or "brilliant young minds"). I often reflect on a favorite quote of mine from Colonel Henry Knox during the struggles of the Revolutionary War. He said "We want great men who, when fortune frowns, will not be discouraged."

I have been the recipient of the "don't get discouraged" speech more times than I care to count. Often the speech was followed up with the "you need to stop trying and caring so much" speech. And the "if you would just stop reading those books attending those classes, and following those websites" speech. Brothers who truly have my best interests in mind, but have unfortunately given up trying to improve the job as a mental survival technique. They used to try to move past the status quo but got beat down so often that they finally had to quit trying or go insane. Shame on chief officers and company officers for allowing this kind of behavior to thrive! New recruits don't need to be told to "stay away from the BYMs because all they want to do is change things," especially when it comes from chief officers. I've finally come to the realization (my own mental survival technique) that even if the job never does change for the better, I will not stop trying. I will not give up. The day I give up will be the day I find myself giving the "don't get discouraged" speech to an up and coming BYM. I don't want to be that guy.

Comment by Jon Nickerson on January 10, 2014 at 11:24am


Comment by Joshua J Augustine on January 9, 2014 at 4:31pm
Preach on...

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