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Credit or Credibility?

Each of us will have the opportunity to look back on our career and determine whether we earned credibility or if we fell short of that by wasting time seeking personal credit.

I overheard the following conversation a few years ago, as I walked toward a house fire. Veteran Fireman to a Rookie – “the fire is going out now.” Rookie – “what do you mean?” Veteran – “somehow mysteriously when he shows up, the fire goes out.”

This perception of one Fireman spoken to another, whether factual or not, was meaningful to me. What the conversation didn’t say was that I am simply a product of great people who cared deeply about the credibility of the organization and of their firehouse and their fire company, and who discouraged credit seekers. They taught me to put the fire out and 90% of your problems go away. These quiet, confident and unassuming teachers ALL followed a simple set of standards to earn credibility – come to work, come to work early, come to work prepared to make a difference.

I always felt pride belonging to a group that the respected street Chiefs looked forward to seeing on their fire ground. I will never forget those who let a green rookie hang out with them and who taught me about earning credibility and swagger through hustle and toughness. I tried to carry on and build this attitude wherever I was assigned and to pass on the things that matter to anyone who would listen. I hope that as young credible Firemen grew they recognized how much I appreciated their arrival, their hustle and their team before self attitude that made quick work of my fires during my thirty years as a Battalion Chief.

It has been a real joy for me to watch from the shadows as young people earned credibility. Whether it was supporting them as they learned fire ground command or simply offering them encouraging words when they felt the self-doubt that we all feel as we grow - “what do you think?” “I think you know the answer, what is it?” “Great minds think alike.” “You touched every base.” Someone taught you – give it forward.

I have written about the flood relief effort for the City of Franklin, Virginia and how a simple idea of helping out three Firemen who were flooded out evolved into a regional effort that delivered Thanksgiving and Christmas to an entire town. I may have done a few early interviews to promote the effort but the credibility was proudly earned by the regional fire departments who worked so well together to do good things for people you didn’t even know. It was amazing to watch. It’s always a special Thanksgiving and Christmas memory for me – how about you?

You showed up, you showed up early and you made a great impact.

I received the Marvin Griffin Community Service award for the MDA efforts of the Richmond Firefighters. The plaque now hangs in the union hall on a larger plaque that I had made with the inscription that reads in part “for your display of service above self.” The plaque wasn’t mine. It belongs to members past, present and future with swagger, pride and backbone who allowed me to watch their extraordinary efforts on behalf of the MDA family who truly appreciate admire and adore us. You can’t put a price on that!!!

At the end of the day it is not only what you gave – but what you gave back.

Credit or Credibility? You earn credibility and it can’t be bought with credit and it can’t be faked.

Get together and find solutions – instead of problems.

Listen and silent are made up of the same letters.

What’s going in your shadowbox?

The home run from yesterday doesn’t count today – hit another one.

It’s your card – credit or credibility?

Thanks for reading, caring and sharing.

Have a great day – it’s a Great day for it.

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