A great lesson was learned last week. At that time, I had been struggling over the past few days before because I allowed choices of others to affect my attitude and drive. I was also suffering from a severely out of line and selfish perspective. All of which were realized quickly with a few short texts from my wife.
For months I have been preaching on social media the message of building tomorrow’s leaders and to keep pushing forward even when others are trying to hold you back. All these statements I have written from the heart on and truly believe in the message I’m trying to share. However, losing a very hard working and skilled crew member to another station quickly revealed the cracks in the foundation of my leadership. I found myself demotivated, irritated, angry and struggling to find the energy to do stuff that had made my crew so good.
I have been an officer for around 8 years but have only spent the last 2 as a captain in charge of my own station. Overall, I feel like I do well in the position and have enjoyed trying to get the best out of my crew. Becoming in charge of a crew is a big deal to me and I take that responsibility very seriously, the success of my crew depends on me and how I choose to lead them. The frustration has come in regards partly to the seemingly constant manipulating of who I have on my crew. Which, like I said is what I allowed to pull me down. I was losing a very good firefighter and reasons for this move weren’t exactly the clearest. What made it even worse is that when given a reason, as soon as we made points of why that didn’t make sense then we were given another reason to which continued the cycle. So, for the 4th time in the last 2 years I was looking at starting over with gaining crew chemistry and everything that goes along with that.
This is where the selfishness crept in, why is it that we keep building these great crews only to be picked apart so that we must start over again every few months. It made me angry because I know how much work goes into that process. After the last shake up of my crew it took us months of training and bonding to get into an acceptable rhythm on scene and now, we’re back at zero. Part of me couldn’t help but feel like these are personal attacks because I honestly don’t think that there’s another officer on our department that’s experienced as much change personnel wise in that amount of time as I have. And the doubt, and the anger, and the negativity began to take over.
For several days I stewed in this and as you can probably guess, it got me nowhere. Finally, as I was trying to push myself into doing some type of workout at the station I reached out to my wife. I told her how I was really struggling with my attitude and motivation and how much it sucks to train so hard to get better together only to have to start over. Of course, she knew all of this because she saw how I let it affect me the days before, but this was my way of saying ok I need some help here. She wasted no time and hit me with the question “Isn’t an important part of leadership to train other leaders?” I knew right away she had me dead to rights. Now she’s never admitted that she follows my Instagram page but if she doesn’t, she couldn’t have made a statement that more defines the message that I have been trying to spread lately than that. After I griped at her for not allowing me to have a pity party (jokingly of course) I told her that statement is one of the main thoughts of my whole message. She went on to say “So wouldn’t it be a bit selfish to put so much into your crew and expect them to stay? Wouldn’t that defeat the purpose of growing your crew?” Again, punched square on the chin. What’s better building 3 or 4 great leaders and keeping them to yourself or building 3 or 4 great leaders and sending them on so that you can start with 3 or 4 more. She stated that like this, “So if you build them up while they are there and instill it in them then the goal would be for them to take it to other crews when they go and continue to build them isn’t that far better than containing it to 1 crew?” Absolutely it’s better but dang why did it take someone else bringing it to me to see that all the negative feelings I was facing was coming because I have been asking to be put in this very situation. I have been wanting to build tomorrow’s leaders and to help as many people as I can.
I’ve always heard something of the fact that you better not ask God for strength if you aren’t ready to have that strength tested. That’s how it works, if I want to reach more people then I can’t expect to do that if I’m not willing to invest that time and energy repeatedly when new people come into my life. Perspective is a crazy thing. One minute you are in the dark and things seem terrible and the next minute the pieces fall into place and the light starts shining again and chances are the only thing that changed is your perspective.
It’s kind of funny because my wife and I are both in supervisory roles at work, we’re both fairly new in those roles, and as I write this we’re both experiencing quite a bit of frustration in our respective jobs but I believe it has brought us closer and started more really good conversations than we’ve experienced in a while. Focus on the positive and try your hardest to not lose hope and not lose the drive to be better every day. And on the days that you just don’t seem to have it in you to pull yourself up and push on then reach out to someone that you can trust to provide a little different perspective.
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