As we close 2015 and move into a new chapter in our journey by welcoming in 2016, let's look back at how things went.
For me 2015 was a challenge but through every challenge comes reward. I found out I am going to be a Father again, I started my own company, I was booked to present my Leadership Development class and open for Frank Viscuso, I was able to meet in person three of my mentors, men who I've followed and looked up to for years. Those men were so humble, they took time to talk to me, stayed in touch, gave pointers and guided me in the direction that I am now headed. I'd like to take this time to personally thank Chief Bobby Halton, Chief Rick Lasky and Chief Frank Viscuso for being the kind of mentors that define the word humble, and for taking the time to help guide a young guy who grew up in the suburbs of Jersey and had to move to PA to chase his dream.
In 2013 I reread Chief Lasky’s book Pride & Ownership and it was like being reborn into the fire service, I had a new perspective of what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it. In 2014 I read Step Up and Lead and recently read Step Up your Teamwork and it felt like Chief Viscuso was talking to me the entire time, guiding me with advice as I embark on my latest challenge of being a Captain. In May of 2015 I had the privilege of meeting Chief Halton. All of us know who he is and some of us have been blessed to hear him speak. My meeting with Chief Halton is very special, you see I am a Father of a two year old, recently purchased a home and am the primary bread winner for my family. I have never had the honor as some of you have of attending FDIC, I had to drive down to a Fire Expo in West Virginia to meet him. Which was not a meeting I thought was going to happen. I met with Chief Lasky in March of 2015 and he told me I should attend his and Chief Salka’s Company Officer Academy which was being held in Charleston, WV. As anyone who gets a suggestion like that from a man like Chief Lasky, you go home and register to attend. I showed up and there he was, you see I’ve met Chief Lasky and have attended a ton of Chief Salka’s classes, but never had the opportunity to meet Bobby Halton. I watched as he worked the room and personally shook EVERY members hand in attendance, asking their name and about themselves. He came to me and I was nervous, I tried cracking jokes about how I was balding and how I have a “jersey accent.” I listened to him speak and he delivered his Duty, Honor and Country from the April 2015 issue of Fire Engineering. The speech was one of the most uplifting speeches I’ve ever heard. He ended it with what some consider cliché but I felt he was addressing me, he said “if you want to do something, go out and do it, your time is now.” He finished and everyone clapped and he signed some autographs and was about to leave. I rushed towards him (this is my opportunity, I thought) “Chief I want to tell you something, when you said our time is now and that we need to go out and do it, well chief, I aspire to be you, I aspire to be Rick Lasky, John Salka, Frank Viscuso and all the other greats, that’s what I aspire to do.” He said, “Dave, you are already doing it, now is your time, I’m just a guy who’s just as honored as you to be here to see them speak.” I nervously told him that I’d wished to write for Fire Engineering or Fire Rescue one day. He said “here’s my card, you call me or email me anytime and send me some of the stuff you’ve written and I will look it over and if it’s good we’ll use it.” Now I haven’t made the magazine, but I send him an email of every blog I write before I post it and within an hour or two even on Thanksgiving he responds with editorial notes and suggested changes and always compliments me and says “dave this is great and well written, make sure you post this on the community page as soon as you can.”
Since our meeting I started my own business, created a Motivational Leadership Development presentation, wrote 7 blogs for Fire Engineering and created my business facebook page. I have been honored to have Chief Halton, Chief Lasky and Chief Viscuso share my blogs and my posts from my passion in leading facebook page. These guys are on a higher stage in the fire service, they have busy schedules and are possibly away from their families more now than when they were only in the fire house. Yet they each took time to talk to me, listen to me, gave me their personal cell, personal email and actually stayed in touch. The world needs more mentors like Bobby Halton, Rick Lasky and Frank Viscuso, we in the Fire Service are the lucky few that we have them as our mentors. Men like that exemplify selflessness and “doing for others”, they have a message and run around the country spreading it all while inspiring people like myself to follow in their footsteps and hope to do the same thing one day. I owe a lot of who I’m becoming because I have met these men and stayed in touch with them.
Which brings me to my point, with all the honor of having been able to meet such high profile leaders, I will use their teachings and their message to help continue to shape me as a man and as a leader. I won’t look at meeting them as a bragging right however as a reminder. A reminder that I didn’t have it figured out, I don’t now and will always have someone who is above me and achieved more to look up to. I have been humbled meeting them because they showed me the meaning of the word by acting as they did when I had the honor of meeting them. I don’t know where my journey will take me, but I know that by accepting humility and being humble you will be able to receive the gifts that are right in front of you, gifts like success that one wouldn’t be able to see clearly because their ego casted a shadow over who they aspired to be. I am thankful for every new challenge and opportunity I get, however as I get older I am starting to be more aware of the luxury of these opportunities. With all the great things you may have achieved in 2015, be great in 2016, do big things, accept humility and stay humble!
In all that you do, God bless you and your family, stay safe and take care!
Passion in Leading, LLC