The Fire Station Pyramid of Success - Part 3

Mark Emery continues a series on fire station success based on Coach John Wooden's Pyramid of Success.


Part 3 - The Character Level Live and lead according to the principles of the Fire Station Pyramid of Success, and others will follow. Last month, you were introduced to Level One, the five behavioral blocks that establish a solid foundation for personal and team leadership and for...


To access the remainder of this piece of premium content, you must be registered with Firehouse. Already have an account? Login

Register in seconds by connecting with your preferred Social Network.

OR

Complete the registration form.

Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Part 3 - The Character Level

Live and lead according to the principles of the Fire Station Pyramid of Success, and others will follow.

Last month, you were introduced to Level One, the five behavioral blocks that establish a solid foundation for personal and team leadership and for building your "Fire Station Pyramid of Success," an adaptation of the original "Pyramid of Success" developed by legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden.

The five behavioral blocks are:

  1. Industriousness (hard work)
  2. Enthusiasm
  3. Friendship
  4. Loyalty
  5. Cooperation

This article will introduce you to Level Two, the character-level of your Fire Station Pyramid of Success:

  1. Self-control
  2. Alertness
  3. Initiative
  4. Intentness

Self-Control

As a fire officer, you must learn to control your emotions. Fire officers who become emotionally attached to incidents are dangerous; fire officers who cannot control their emotions in the fire station will create a house of turmoil. You cannot function mentally or physically unless your emotions are under control. It is for this reason that Coach Wooden never engaged in pre-game pep talks that created "artificial emotional highs." Rather than cresting a number of temporary peaks, Wooden preferred that his teams maintain a constant, slightly increasing level of achievement.

"For every contrived (emotional) peak you create there is a subsequent valley," Wooden said. "I do not like (emotional) valleys."

Self-control provides emotional stability. When you lose control of your emotions, when your self-discipline breaks down, judgment and common sense are compromised. When self-control has become an integral part of your leadership package, people will perceive you as one of those who thrive under pressure.

Learn to stay cool and relaxed. Cool and relaxed will become contagious. In the fire station, cease the whining, complaining and excuse-making that keep you out of the present. Self-control will keep you in the present and prepare you for the future. (Have you ever noticed that when firefighters complain, it's usually about somebody who is not there during the complaining? They are not being industrious, they are not being loyal, they are not exhibiting self-control and thus they are not working to gain the self-satisfaction of becoming the best that they can become.)

Focusing on the present will enable you to focus on future improvement, to have vision. Dwelling on the past and on others' mistakes is toxic and prevents you from doing something positive for your fire station today and in the future. Strive to maintain self-control. Be a positive influence. You will never complete your Fire Station Pyramid of Success without self-control.

Nowhere is self-control more important than during the evolution of an incident. It is easy to identify firefighters and fire officers who have lost their self-control and have become emotionally attached to an incident - before they arrive on-scene. It is simple: Look a speed-limit sign, then glance at the apparatus speedometer. If the posted speed limit is 40 mph and the apparatus is traveling 60 mph, there is (60 minus 40) 20 mph of emotional attachment. Because this driver and fire officer have lost their self-control, they are endangering the public and themselves. If firefighters lose their self-control while responding, imagine what will happen once they arrive on-scene: no size-up, freelancing, no command presence, random acts of tactical violence, etc.

A master craftsman fire officer ensures that everybody amps down and belts up before the rig rolls. Self-control, along with preparation before the alarm, is essential if you hope to sniff Level Four, the leadership-level of the Pyramid: Poise and Confidence. Poise and Confidence will be supported by Level Three of the Pyramid: Condition, Skill and Team Spirit. Level Three is supported by Level Two and Level Two is supported by Level One, the foundation. (I'm not an advocate of timed turnout drills. Turnout drills encourage emotional attachment rather than foster self-control. This culture of frenzy is the primary reason fire apparatus speed through intersections with occupants unbelted.)

This content continues onto the next page...