The Fire Station Pyramid of Success - Part 2

Mark Emery continues a series on fire station success based on Coach John Wooden's Pyramid of Success.When the time comes to clear out the locker, wouldn't you like to know that you left your fire station and your fire department a better place than...


Mark Emery continues a series on fire station success based on Coach John Wooden's Pyramid of Success. When the time comes to clear out the locker, wouldn't you like to know that you left your fire station and your fire department a better place than before you got there? Would you like to be...


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

When the time comes to clear out the locker, wouldn't you like to know that you left your fire station and your fire department a better place than before you got there? Would you like to be remembered as a poised and confident leader and as a team-player?

Last month, you were introduced to the Fire Station Pyramid of Success. The Fire Station Pyramid of Success is about developing — and maintaining — a legacy of personal and professional leadership. You were also introduced to an amazing man: coaching legend John Wooden, who developed the original Pyramid of Success. Wooden is recognized as the greatest basketball coach of all time; many consider him to be the greatest team coach of all time. During his tenure at UCLA, the Bruins won 10 NCAA national championships in 12 years — including seven in a row.

Although his UCLA coaching record justifies the accolades, it is important to note what was important to Wooden. He never coached a team to win or beat an opponent. He didn't coach his teams to win championships. He didn't give pep talks. Wooden believed his number-one responsibility was to prepare young men for life after basketball. Although the championships and statistics are impressive, at 97 years old, Wooden is most proud that 95% of his players graduated with a college degree. He is most satisfied that his players left UCLA as decent, respectful members of society. Wooden knew that basketball is just a game and that life is not a game. Wooden's Pyramid of Success has nothing to do with sports; the Pyramid of Success is about life and leadership.

The young men who played for Wooden will tell you their personal success and the success of UCLA was due to the principles of the Pyramid of Success. After more than 30 years, they still consider Wooden to be a friend and mentor. Coach John Wooden is a wonderful human being. The Fire Station Pyramid of Success is based on Wooden's Pyramid of Success and on his beliefs, values and principles.

Professional Excellence

First and foremost, the Fire Station Pyramid of Success is about developing and maintaining personal and professional leadership. The Fire Station Pyramid is also about teamwork and establishing a legacy of personal and professional excellence. Those four italicized words are compelling: leadership, teamwork, legacy and excellence. Who wouldn't like to be associated with these four words? Who doesn't want to be remembered as a poised and confident leader and remembered as a team player? Who wouldn't like to leave a legacy of professional excellence at their fire station?

After I leave the fire station for the last time, with my locker contents stuffed into a box, one of the first things that will change will be the entry-door code. It is unlikely that I will be notified of the new entry code; it is even more unlikely that a statue will be erected to honor my 30 years of dedicated service. That's the way it should be; if I know that I left a legacy of always trying to make things better for the people I had the privilege to work with, and remembered for always trying to make my fire department and the fire service a better place, I will be content. Paraphrasing Wooden's definition of success: Success is peace of mind that comes from the self-satisfaction in knowing you gave your best effort to become the best of which you are capable.

True, lasting self-satisfaction and success are not realized by a statue or a plaque or by winning championships. True success comes from peace of mind and self-satisfaction. Knowing that you gave your best every day will provide lasting peace of mind and self-satisfaction. Giving your best every day will establish a legacy of personal leadership and professional excellence. (If you're going to be in the fire station anyway, why waste your own time? Being lazy is cheating yourself; being lazy and rounding corners means that you made a conscious decision to not be your best. What a shame when the culture of an entire fire station is lazy and rounds the corners. That fire station has no leadership.)

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