In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoken over 50 years ago in a speech that changed our way of life, our perception and view on culture and reminded us what we as Americans stand for, what we stood for and what we should stand for. He started it with four simple words, four words that made the audience know that this was going to be something they needed to hear, “I have a dream.” We are all familiar with this speech, especially the opening line, the magnitude of the opening line and why it is the most remembered part. As human beings we all dream, we have aspirations, we set goals and fantasize about what the future will hold for us. As Firefighters we (most of us, hopefully all of us) had a dream, we dreamt that we would one day be a part of something great, something that had value and tradition, we dreamed of becoming Firefighters. Whether you volunteer or are career, you are living your dream. Unfortunately somewhere along the way you forgot about that dream and lost focus.
When I was a kid my parents bought me a Fire Truck tricycle that came with a red fire helmet. I wore the helmet constantly, and road my fire truck always, so much that my poor sister broke her finger pushing me around our park because I wanted to pretend I was responding to a call while I was mimicking the fed q siren and yelling “push me Kelly (referring to my sister), faster, faster!” My sister was possibly the first person to witness my passion for what I was fortunate enough to grow up and do. See I had a dream that day, I knew that one day I’d become a Firefighter, I knew that I wanted to be a part of the tradition, the honor, the pride and being able to ride or even drive one of the real trucks one day…wow, wouldn’t that be something! I’m living it, I am living my dream. Sadly there are a lot of Americans who cannot say that, they say things at backyard bar-b-q’s like “I settled.” To me settling is accepting failure, never settle. You had a dream when you were a kid, go out and do it! Us as Firefighters are the lucky few who can say when asked at one of those bar-b-q’s, “What did you want to be when you grew up?” and you can say with full confidence and a smile on your face “I wanted to be a Firefighter.”
Unfortunately we lose that passion, we forget our dream and we become complacent, as Chief Lasky says “Complacency is just a fancy word for lazy.” We have bad leaders, or bad days, or traumatic experiences through our careers and we lose track of that kid in each of us who had a dream and aspired to be where you are today. As I say to my guys when they’re having a gripe, when you got interviewed you didn’t say to the Chief, I am against this and that and won’t like if we have to do etc. instead you said everything you felt the Chief wanted hear about you (all positive) and were overjoyed with the opportunity to come this much closer to living your dream. Go back to that day, your interview day, your first day in the fire house, your first day out of the academy and ask that them if they are living their dream. I’ll bet the answer would be yes with a grin and a face of joy that looks as if it was just blessed. Why are we allowing other people’s setbacks and their negative attitudes tarnish and discredit our dream? Why are we forgetting our dream and becoming part of this unnecessary toxic environment that the Fire Service has today? You are giving up on that kid who had a dream all those years ago, you muddy the value of those four words that Dr. King said.
You had a dream right? Well my brothers and sisters I HAVE a dream, I have a dream that one day we will stop allowing toxic negative people rain on our parade and ruin our intentions and shatter our dreams. I have a dream that we as Firefighters (brothers and sisters) can truly live in harmony with each other as equals, where selfish intent and malicious thinking no longer exist. I dream that the integrity comes back within the fire house, ever wonder why the public can let you into their home at any time and hold their kids at any time yet we look to set each other up and throw each other under the bus inside our own fire houses. A bit hypocritical if you ask me, we aren’t buying what we’re selling. We sell this image that we can be trusted and in most cases that is true when it comes to the service we provide to the general public, but the rest of the time we aren’t upholding that same service to each other. We forget where we came from, we lose track of our dream. Go back to the kid in you, remember what it was like to have that dream and how big a deal that dream was to you. There are always going to be struggles and in any other sense of the phrase “shitty days.” That’s life, great things are hard and hard things are great. If this was easy, if the psychological aspect that overcasts the physical aspect of this job was easy then everybody would be doing this. We are the few, we are the lucky few who were kids and saw the fire truck drive by with the guys waiving to us and said “one day, that’s gonna be me.” Never give up on that kid, never give up on that dream, trust me I deal with a trying day every day at work, I haven’t given up and I won’t give up. I am living my dream and will continue to dream. So dream on my brothers and sisters, it’s our dreams that make the trying times so tolerable.
In all that you do, God bless, stay safe and take care!
Passion in Leading, LLC