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            As a firefighter, most of us focus on pushing our operating limits. Some of these times, we find ourselves in uncharted territory. This uncharted territory creates situations where we have a decision to make – take the risk or not. The safest and least critical decision is to do nothing. It is a promise that you will never be criticized if you meet status quo. However, meeting status quo is not how a leader thinks.

            As you challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone you must be prepared for what lies ahead and the obstacles you may face. Many of these endeavors we are successful with due to calculating a structured plan. The key character builder here is not for when we succeed but how we handle a failure. How do you handle failure? We all handle it differently and that's ok! There are a few things though that you should keep in mind as you deal with failure. First you should remember that IT IS GOING TO HAPPEN! If you're not failing, then that means you're not trying new things.

            It's not necessarily what you do to fail, it's what you do afterwards to correct the action. Did you fail due to a lack of training? Then go train more on the topic that you failed! Did you fail by hitting the bucket of the ladder truck on a telephone pole while turning? Then do more drivers training and learn the truck better! Did you fail a promotional exam? Then study harder for the next one and finish first! It doesn't matter the mistake you make, it matters how you learn from the mistake and move on!


            Do not let this be the one thing in your career that defines you! There will always be the naysayers out there that have a problem with everyone and everything. Furthermore, no one is as good as them, but you cannot listen to that noise. Those same people have failed before however they are too insecure to tell you about it because that would make them look weak. When you fail you will feel vulnerable, but look at it as a great opportunity to grow and mentor those who come behind you.

            How you handle this is up to you and no one else. You can let this failure define you or you can step up, take responsibility and learn from it! It will show others that you are strong and mature which will reflect on your credibility as a leader.


Tommy Goran is the founder of Flashover Leadership, a Fire Engineer/EMT with Columbia MO Fire Department with 9 years in the fire service and a Rescue Specialist for MOTF1. He is passionate about having a positive attitude in the fire service and being the leader that you would want to follow!

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