Stay with it My Friends

In a firefighter's line of work, failure has some extremely serious consequences. The following statement is simple, but quite direct: If at first you don't succeed, try again.

Life teaches a great many lessons to those who will pay attention. There was a time when I felt that good things should happen to me just because I was a good guy. My parents taught me to do the right things; to be honest and hardworking. Guess what? Things did not always go my way. It seemed to me that a lot of folks who were not raised like I was were getting all of the good breaks. Do not get me wrong. I had my share of success, but it bothered me that others who did not seem to work as hard as I did often came in ahead of me.

Thankfully I was raised before today's 'touchy-feely' philosophy, which tells us that 'everybody wins, all are treated fairly and equally, and everybody gets a trophy', was developed. I think that this philosophy has had a great deal to do with the problems we are facing in society today.

Face it my friends. The reality of life is quite different. Let me suggest that once you hit the cold, cruel world you quickly learn that not everybody wins and not everyone succeeds. Attending my high school class reunions for the past 40-some years has proven that old statement to be true indeed. Other discoveries which may be made are that honesty may not always be the best policy and that might makes right.

The old philosophy, at least as I recall it today, was really a lot easier to understand. It went something like this: "You win some and you lose some." They key lesson which came from my parents was that you didn't give up in the face of failure. It took a great many years for my dad to be promoted to Colonel is the U.S. Army Reserve. I learned this after taking well over a decade to ascend to the rank of Battalion Chief. I guess that another way of describing this philosophy would be to use the poker phrase of 'doubling down' when the opportunity presents itself.

Many folks will tell you that education is the key to success. I have had my share of education and I want to let you know that this is not the whole story. Many have been the people with a great deal of education who lost out to some hard working, innovative, and persistent individual. Many of the classic success stories in history involve people who just did not give up when faced with adversity.

In a recent church sermon, Pastor Brown spoke of the many afflictions faced by Job in the Old Testament. As I listened to all of the bad things which happened to Job, I began to understand the foundation of that old philosophical statement which speaks of, "…the patience of Job." No matter what curve balls he faced, Job knew what he believed in and stayed the course. Let me suggest that there is a real lesson here.

Think about the successful fire departments you have seen. Why do they achieve success that others never see and seemingly maintain it year after year? What things did they do that others did not?  Let me suggest that they have worked to master the details and then continually and consistently worked to improve their skills and abilities. 

Did they always succeed? No. Did they always win? No. But they kept learned to keep their eyes on the prize. They developed a vision of where they wanted to go. They set goals and worked toward them. They developed a set of objectives and then worked to perform the tasks which moved them toward the achievement of their goals. When they faced a setback, they stepped back, assessed the problem, discovered the cause of the problem and then worked to create a solution which got them back on the right road.

This is not brain surgery my friends. It is the actual, practical use of what some people call common sense. Sadly, common sense is no where near as common as many people would have you think. To me common sense means asking simple and direct questions and then being able to work your way through the BS that some people will provide as the answers to the questions you have asked. 

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