Lessons I Learned at the Circus

Are you aware that you can think and relax at the same time? Just because you are enjoying a particular activity you are not precluded from exercising your brain cells. Heck, some of my best ideas have come in the midst of some really enjoyable...


Let me suggest that each of you who wish to be a leader in your organization think about adopting these "circus" behaviors. I shall list what I saw and offer you my suggestions for the future success of your organization:

  • Enthusiastic
  • Accepting of others
  • Present for others
  • Useful to others

The people I saw performing in that circus were really enthusiastic, as were their coaches and supporters. I saw a great deal of interaction between the coaches and performers. Whenever one of the young people seemed to need some support, a coach appeared and took care of business. These mentors seemed always ready to set the example for their people.

One of the coaches was a retired circus aerial performer. He was not a young man. However, he seemed to be bubbling over with enthusiasm for his work. He was constantly moving and continually offering advice. I was truly impressed. He and the other coaches and advisors portrayed the skills and actions that Favreau presented to the fire service back in 1973:

  • Train as a team
  • Support the individual
  • Nurture the group
  • Come to know them as individual human beings
  • Cultivate responsibility among your people
  • Know the capabilities of your people
  • Operate within those identified competencies

We in the fire service seem to think that our world is a special place. Far too many of us seem to believe that we do not need to abide by the same rules as the rest of society. Given the number of real boobs in positions of leadership, this must be the case. Sorry, friends, we have to wake up and smell the coffee.

Ed Cleveland and I saw a special example of true leadership in Sarasota. In speaking with one of the adult volunteers after the show, I was impressed with his enthusiasm and dedication. He was selling tee shirts and bragging about the Police Athletic League. He mentioned that there were now 168 young people signed up for the circus.

I am betting that this group has found something good to pass on to the young people of their community. I offer their example to you as a starting point for improvement in your fire department. Never think for a single moment that you cannot change, or that you are too old or too good to learn from the actions of others, particularly young people.

The Police Athletic League has just kicked off a major fund-raising campaign to gather the funds for renovating their circus facility. If you want to help some really neat people guide the youth of their community, you can send a little something along to the PAL Sailor Circus Renovation Capital Campaign at 2075 Bahia Vista Street, Sarasota, Florida 34239. I will be putting my check into the mail today. Take care, stay safe, and never stop working to get better at what you do.