You can do it. I believe in you. If you set your mind to it, it can be done. I’m proud of you. You did a great job!... These are just a few of some of the phrases that gets us going, some of the things that when we hear we get that “second wind.”
One of my biggest mentors and a person who I have had the pleasure of having in my life has guided me and encouraged me to continue to travel the path that I am now, this is a person who without knowing was one of the influential people into making the decision I did when I left my comfort zone where I was a Career Captain in Pennsylvania and accepted my new challenge of becoming the Training Officer of a much bigger Department with a much bigger mission. I speak of a few of my mentors and people I look up to in most of my blogs, but the inspiration for this blog is deserving of one person. In all the leadership, and motivational material books that I read, I usually like to read them more then once; I feel sometimes we miss something or at the first time we read it our minds were stuck on one issue so we really only absorbed that. I recently finished rereading one of my favorite author’s books when I got stuck on a part that was only two pages long in one chapter but had such an amazing impact on my current thought process. The part was titled “The Power of Words” and there’s a story about a local hero from my home state who due to his trauma both physical and mental had almost hung up being a Fireman; that was until his Captain told him “One step at a time, I’m right here with you.” That Fireman ended up speaking to my Fire Academy class years later about the seriousness of flashovers and how to overcome adversity, however I never knew that background story to that Fireman until I read this story.
After reading this story I thought to myself, “wow, how true that is… the power of words.” While growing up my mother used to tell me “you can do anything as long as you put your mind to it.” Powerful things like that are what helps put us on a path to do well even while we face adversity. However, there’s another side to this power of words thing, it is true that we can say uplifting things to people that help put them back on track or keep them on the path they’re going, but we also have people in life who make comments like “you’ll never amount to anything” or “you’re not good enough” or worst of all “you’re too dumb.” These terrible phrases can unfortunately be just as powerful and detrimental to the success of any person. I write this because those phrases were quite literally said to me many times throughout my life and my career, however I was lucky enough to have people like my parents always reassure me to keep my mind to it, blessed to have a wife who constantly encourages me to reach for the stars, and recently honored to establish a relationship with some of the best people I’ve met in this business, leaders from the West Coast who traveled to be Chief’s in my home state, to leaders from the Pennsylvania who meet up with me for lunch just to make sure I’m still trudging along, to the Editor in Chief of this magazine and some of its best writers and most importantly to the person who inspired this blog, Chief Frank Viscuso who wrote that story in Chapter 3 of Step Up your Teamwork. I have been so blessed and so lucky to have such influential/supporting people in my corner that they have helped continue to guide me to where I am going which indirectly built the stage for that moment when my Father said to me “I’m proud of you son.” That was the most powerful thing anyone has ever said to me. There is no greater honor as an adult then when your Father tells you he’s proud of you. I owe a lot of people for their help and guidance along the way, because if it wasn’t for those people who believed in me and used the power of words to help guide me, I might not have been honored to understand the value of when a Father says that to his son.
As leaders we need to recognize the value of the power of words. Instead of ridiculing our people and knocking them down, we need to be building them up, reassuring them and encouraging them. Speaking from my own experience both as a Firefighter and a Leader; you get the best out of those who you proved you believe in and you get the least out of those who you bully. We need to adopt the power of words as an everyday part of our lives, but the positive version of it. We need to be mentors and leaders to people who are falling off track due to someone using the negative version of the power of words and support that person and help rebuild them to becoming better than us. There’s no higher honor in the fire service than when someone says “they’re a good firefighter.” Powerful words like that can help shape the future of our fire service.
In all that you do, God bless, stay safe and take care!
Passion in Leading, LLC