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Who has the juice?

One of the great blessings in life is the time that we all have to quietly ponder and think. Our quiet place and time may differ but the results are the same. If you don’t have that place and time in your life, and in your work, I think it is vitally important that you find it. I hope that you will.

I happen to especially enjoy the moments when I can remove all of the fog from the day to day of life and think about things that are really important to me, the juice. This morning is such a morning and I am thankful for it.

Our American flag sure makes me proud. The wind moving it gently also moves me and reminds me that our flag is alive and that in our flag is the sacrifice of those who fought bled and died to give me these peaceful moments.

Each day I remember their enormous sacrifice and I understand that my freedom isn’t free and neither is yours, it never was. If anyone is offended when I say it is OUR American flag, I trust that you won’t be offended while your mouth is full of American milk and honey provided by the American farmer.

In the challenges of each day, I believe that we would all be better if less time was spent on moving left or moving right and if all of us concentrated on moving up. That applies to our lives, our freedoms, and our great land and to our fire service. We don’t have to always agree, but we do all have a responsibility to preserve the juice.

Independence Day, Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day and remembering our fire service history and the sacrifices that were made for them should be remembered every day.

Have we forgotten?

What moves you and in what direction? Where is the juice in your life and in your fire service? What is really important to you?

The fire service struggles through challenging times too. The fire service still changes, as it always has, and it saddens me to read of so called fire service leaders who never noticed the majesty of the Fire Service purple mountains or who have only flown over the amber waves of Fire Service grain.

They appear to never have played on the team or even watched the team work to build the fire service into what it is today and that keeps it all alive and flourishing for the people inside the fire houses and for those that we promised to serve who are dying to meet us on their worst imaginable day.

Fire Service Leaders who have the juice didn’t get it for free. They were listeners, lifelong learning sponges, they were respectful, they emulated, they observed, they studied history, they learned from mistakes that they made and the mistakes of others and they had a desire to leave the place better than they found it. They did not command by committee and they understood that decision making, based upon sound judgment, was what was expected of them, every time. They all found a leadership balance and their leadership didn’t wave from left to right depending on the wind.

My grandfather, Thomas Jefferson Perkins, a humble bricklayer, summed up failed fire service leadership for me with his old saying: “Nothing from nothing is nothing.” Failed leaders are often narcissist and they spend more time in self preservation and looking into the mirror with self admiration and less time reading and studying successful leadership and those who achieved it. We usually get from the team what we give to the team and there is no place for leadership arrogance on the fire service team.

Failed fire service leaders usually display quivering lips. That results from a mind that is made up and a desire to not be bothered by the thoughts of others. Failed leaders often surround themselves with failed leaders who also lack the juice. Their communications fail to deliver a winning battle plan for the organization and this failure and an accompanying lack of trust causes indecisiveness and poor leadership and training in the fire houses and failures on the street, a dangerous downhill icy slope is created. Their frequent leadership group failures are most often blamed on inheritance or on those who simply don’t understand or who always resist change. I see it as PC – political crap, plain and simple.

Whether at a coffee table critique, a post incident in the alley or at a staff meeting, the failed leader does not listen, absorb or consider. Their lips quiver because their next spectacular idea or their blame game and their justification for their failed behavior is just waiting for you to cease with your common sense and simple logic so that they can further dazzle the group with more self serving venom spoken from a forked tongue.

When I speak to groups, I appreciate the eye contact of the audience, their criticisms and comments and the opportunity to interact and to share viewpoints and ideas with them. If you are speaking and trying to sell the audience an old VW as a new Cadillac because you glued on some Coupe De Ville emblems and sprayed on some fresh paint, should you really be surprised when half of the class heads out to the restroom and never comes back and the feedback from those remaining is crickets?

Failed leaders fail because they never pay attention to the audience and the subtle feedback that every audience gives. This applies to a small audience at the coffee table and to the big room at FDIC. Look at yourself and at your message because the audience already has.

I come out of each speaking and learning session usually feeling really good for having shared something of value that I learned through experience or that others shared with me. I do so by understanding the product, by creating a fog free environment and by moving the discussion to a comfortable place around the coffee table where we can relax, talk, listen and learn together. Words do matter so try the truth, it is easier to memorize.

A resume is an introduction of a speaker to an audience and not much more. Leaders and teachers must be able to disarm themselves and to be hardware humble, if their purpose is about the message instead of an ego massage. My years of service just mean that I served time and any accolades on my resume mean that maybe was involved, worked hard and I got lucky a few times. The leader teaches the lessons of time and how to increase the opportunities of the audience to achieve their success and how audience members can make their own luck.

If people in leadership roles have to point out their perceived accomplishments for their imaginary legacy or if they find it necessary to tell others how much they deserve to be the leader, they probably don’t. If leaders constantly complicate simple stuff by their perceived need to reinvent the wheel, the people who keep things rolling along will soon tire and lose interest. The process deflates and takes all of the juice out of the environment. The same applies to the futile attempt by failed leaders to describe their transparency.

I do not agree with the old saying that if you speak the same untruth enough times, people will believe it. What is obvious is that leaders who conduct themselves this way are oblivious to their failures and flawed ideas that everyone else can see through clearly. Remember that mud drying on a pig’s behind may change color but it is still mud and it doesn’t look like or smell like transparency to me.

My mentors and leaders were never complicit in complacency and they demonstrated their juice through their performance. During your quiet pondering time, think back on those who mentored and guided you and I suspect that they were the same everywhere across our fruited fire service plain.

People can see through legacy builders, unbalanced, inconsistent and unfair opportunists and they appreciate genuine transparency and honest, principled, character guided leadership. That is the juice.

I feel no compassion for posers, fakes and snakes who occupy leadership roles. I do feel greatly for those who are exposed to them and especially for the youngest of the youngest who are looking for the juice and who assume that they are to believe and follow the leader.

The good news is that the young people are smart and that they will over time move toward mentors and leaders who have the juice and who share and teach it freely.

Lost leaders who don’t fear making YOU turns will eventually arrive.

Who is in charge of catching people doing something good?

Children selling lemonade shouldn’t need a license.

Who is the Chief Morale Officer?

FIRE – Fixing It Requires Effort.

Leaders and speakers receive immediate feedback. The good ones recognize it.

PC also means practicing complacency.

Is the juice worth saving?

Which way is the wind moving your fire service leadership today?

Who has the juice?

Thank You for reading, pondering, caring and sharing.

Have a great day - it's a GREAT day for it.

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