Let me begin by offering you my heartfelt best wishes for a safe and Happy New Years. Is it not amazing how quickly time flies my friends? Not only are we on the doorstep of a new year, we are about to begin the second decade of the 21st Century. But was it not just a day or two ago when we were all hoarding food and toilet paper in anticipation of the 'Y2K Disaster'? Yet here we still are. My does time pass rapidly when we are having fun.
Like many of you, I toy with the idea of creating resolutions to guide me in my journey through the upcoming year. It seems like the right thing to do. You know what I mean. I am going to start exercising, lose weight, tithe to my church, and while I am at it find a cure for hunger and cancer. After more than six decades of celebrating the New Years' holiday, I am here to tell you that I have become a practicing pragmatist. I am truly to live my life in a solid productive manner, as guided by my personal limitations.
The chances are poor indeed that I will be the one who cures cancer. True, I am a researcher however words and not solid science are the province of my efforts. I could help the person who does make the breakthrough write about it, but they already have science writers to do that. This I realize and make no apologies for my limitations.
The same argument holds true for the issue of hunger in our world. I am not a crop researcher or agricultural scientist. I could write about it, but there are people far better qualified than I am to do that. I want you to know that I am doing my part in the hunger battle. Each time I become hungry, I get something to eat. I know what I am good at.
However, there is nothing to stop me from supporting these two efforts through the financial resources which I am able to generate. Donations to fight cancer and prevent hunger are two areas within my benevolence planning schedule. I also strongly support all of the efforts of my church in these critical areas. I might not be able to cure cancer and stop hunger, but I can support those who do. That, my friends, is a goal, not a resolution.
Years ago some wise sage told me to identify my strengths and weaknesses. That person told me to build upon my strengths and work to minimize my weaknesses. I want you to know that I took that person at there word and have battled mightily to do just that. There have been some successes and there have been some failures, but I am still trying.
Early on in my life I discovered that I was a real pro at gaining weight. A bit later in my life I discovered that my ability to lose weight was poor indeed. In line with the advice I received from that sage, I decided to go with my strength. Hence the incremental increase in my volumetric proportions over time. You might say that I am a victim of my own abilities.
Now if I were hung up on the matter of New Year's Resolutions, I would now be telling you that I hereby resolve to lose 75 pounds in the coming year. I would declare that I intend to spend an entire year with Jared and Michael Strahan eating at Subway and jogging endlessly through the environs of Adelphia and Freehold. If I were hung up on resolutions, I would resolve to run so many miles and lose so many pounds of weight. But I am not such a person.
The classical problem with resolutions is that they are so easily broken. We usually fail in keeping our resolutions because we set the bar too high and make these declarations in the form of absolutes. Let me suggest to you that there is another way to approach this matter. Rather than spitting out resolutions we have no intention of keeping, we need to spend some quality time developing goals for our lives. Let me also suggest that we not attach a timeline to these aspirations, at least not one which is wholly unrealistic.
This subject was covered back in the February 2009 edition of Firehouse Magazine. In that article, I covered the plan which I created for myself for the decade of my 60's. I laid out the things I hoped to accomplish. However, you will note that no where within the paragraphs of that piece did I mention anything about date and times. I did mention people, because it is only with the help of friends and mentors that I have any hope of achieving my goals.
Just to let you know, I have made progress on a number of my goals for the period 2007-2017. I have accomplished the following:
· I have studied the manner in which my friend and Brother Mason Steve Austin manages the elements of his time and accomplishes his tasks. I am a bit better, but still have lots of room for improvement.
· I have worked to improve my listening skills. I have also begun to taken an herbal hearing support formulation. There is still a great deal of work to be done here, but I am trying.
· I have completed my personal integrity statement. You can see it in the archives of my Firehouse.com blog.
· I have begun the process of studying the elements of faith which make up the manner in which the Reformed Church in America conducts its faith delivery message.
· My mentoring program under Steve and Jack Peltier of Massachusetts is underway. This is a long-term project and I will continue under their tutelage.
· I am mentoring a number of fire officers around the United States. One of my successes is now the Fire Chief in a North Carolina community. Others are progressing and I am offering advice as needed. Sharing with others is critical to me.
· I have read two different leadership texts this year. I am a bit behind but hope to pick up speed in the coming year,
· I managed to create a new university educational program in the field of fire service administration. You will be reading more on this in the months to come.
· I co-authored a fire service article for a non-fire service peer-reviewed journal as I indicated I would.
· My contributions to the fire service literature have continued and I have delivered programs at two of the major fire service conferences. There would have been more, but health issues prevented me from going to Dallas back in August.
· I am maintaining all of my musical organization relationships. I find a great deal of satisfaction and relaxation in the simple acting of playing my tuba.
It is my hope that in sharing these thoughts with you that I can lead by example within the American Fire Service. That is another of my personal goals. My plans and goals are in place, and I am continuing my efforts toward attaining those goals. This is one man's way of doing business and while I have my detractors, the one thing they can never heap on my shoulders is an allegation that I am not living my life in the manner which I suggest for you to use.
As we enter the second decade of the 21st Century, let me offer you my hopes and prayers for a safe and Happy New Year. Remember, I want you to set solid, measurable goals. Please no resolutions about losing 100 pounds by Thanksgiving. However, it is my intention to set an additional goal for the coming year. I want to see less of myself in the mirror by Christmas of 2010. How much less? I just cannot tell you, but I have set my goal. Take care and stay safe.