The Fire Station Pyramid of Success

Mark Emery continues this series about Coach John Wooden's model of success with Part 5 - Leadership and a Legacy of Professional Excellence.


Part 5 - Leadership and a Legacy of Professional Excellence Live and lead according to the principles of the Fire Station Pyramid of Success, and others will follow. Near the apex of the Fire Service Pyramid of Success are the final two blocks: poise and confidence . Coach John Wooden, on...


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Finally, after your pyramid is complete - block by block, level by level - and bonded with behavioral mortar, the success of your fire station (and perhaps the success of your fire department) will be secured at the top with the behavioral mortar of two essential qualities of enduring professional excellence: faith and patience; faith that things will turn out as they should and the patience to continuously pursue professional excellence with poise and confidence. Professional excellence is not a destination or achievement; a legacy of professional excellence is a non-stop process of continuous improvement.

Professional excellence is not about being better than another person, crew, fire station or fire department. Success is not a game of you against them; personal leadership is a one-on-one challenge of you against you. Don't waste energy and focus complaining about and trying to change "them"; instead, focus your energy on the most important person that you can change and improve: you. None of us will ever be perfect; perhaps more accurate, none of us can maintain perfection; struggling to maintain perfection will turn you into a neurotic mess.

Nevertheless, perfection is a worthy goal. True success requires giving 100% of your mind, body and effort to "The Job" - whether "The Job" is your vocation, avocation or both. Although none of us is capable of achieving and maintaining perfection, each of us is capable of striving for perfection by being the best that we are capable of becoming. That is doable and doing so will provide peace of mind.

Professional excellence is about continuous effort to learn, continuous effort to improve, and continuous effort to make yourself, your fire station and your community better tomorrow than it is today. When you make your fire station a better place you make your fire department a better place. As a fire officer - a position of leadership - your responsibility is to bring a group of firefighters together so that they reach their greatest level of competence and potential. The real challenge is to bring individual firefighters together as a high-performance team. This can be difficult and challenging. However, that is your job and your primary responsibility. "The Job" will be much easier when each team member possesses personal leadership that fits neatly beside the sub-pyramid of team leadership. You are in complete control of your fire station legacy - not other firefighters, not other crews, not other fire stations, not the union, not the fire chief, not the mayor. This life and "The Job" is not a dress rehearsal; whether good, mediocre or a combination, your fire station legacy is a work in progress.

It is not unreasonable to expect that each member of your fire station team will always contribute their best effort when they are in the fire station. When each member contributes personal leadership to the fire station team, the result is fire station leadership; fire station leadership will establish and sustain a legacy of professional excellence. With faith and patience, the Fire Station Pyramid of Success will help you become the best that you are capable of becoming. When everybody in the fire station does the same you will be a part of something very special.

Free stuff: To receive a cool Fire Station Pyramid of Success PowerPoint presentation, contact the Mark Emery at fci@usa.com.

John R. Wooden: For more information about the life, career and philosophy of Coach John Wooden, obtain his book They Call Me Coach, published by Contemporary Books (ISBN 0-07-142491-1).

MARK EMERY, EFO, is a shift battalion chief with the Woodinville, WA, Fire & Life Safety District. He is a graduate of the National Fire Academy's Executive Fire Officer program and an NFA instructor specialist. Emery received a bachelor of arts degree from California State University at Long Beach and is a partner with Fire Command Seattle LLC in King County, WA. He may be contacted at fci@usa.com or access his website www.competentcommand.com.