When I finished Firefighter I, I thought I knew it all. After all, I had been around firehouses since I was a kid. I was a fire explorer and I lived and breathed the fire service.
I continued on with classes. At that time it was more to pad my resume than “really” learn stuff. Not to say I didn’t learn new things, but I thought I knew everything I needed to know.
Sadly in retrospect, this continued for quite a few years. I am not sure if it was my age or period in my life; but I didn’t REALIZE that I was missing knowledge.
My career kept on progressing. I was promoted to lieutenant. I wasn’t arrogant; at least I tried not to portray that image. I just thought I knew everything needed to know about my job.
I can’t place an exact time when it occurred.........but a switch turned on. I realized there was A LOT I didn’t know.
I can’t tell you how quickly my perspective changed. I couldn’t learn enough, fast enough. I suddenly realized there WAS so much to learn. I finally realized I knew what I didn’t know!
I’ve always lived my life without regret, well most of the time. I looked back on all the hours spent in a recliner, watching mindless television. God, I could have spent that time better.
I could have been reading every fire magazine, been drilling myself to be better and reading some great fire service “bibles.”
I am fortunate that I came to this realization. I have worked with guys who have lived an entire career without realizing this. I am saddened it took me a good part of my shortened career to realize it; but then I wound’s appreciate it like I do now.
To some of you reading this, I might look like a complete idiot. For some of you, you might have gone through this same phase. For others, I hope this is a wakeup call.
Stay thirsty for education, challenge yourself to be better than you were yesterday and don’t lose the spark. The day you get complacent, is the day you should fill out your retirement papers
My time of “knowing what I didn’t’ know” was so much more fulfilling than the time when I though t I knew it all.