We were a well-known duo at the Champs Restaurant in the Marriott across the street from the Indianapolis Convention Center. We spent countless hours mentoring the young troops who stopped by for a brew and a counseling session. I could not begin to estimate the impact that Jack had over the years on the American Fire Service. But there are a lot folks doing a better job because of him.
So there I was, sitting in the Memorial Lutheran Church in Shippensburg, looking up toward the heavens and thinking about the past. But then it came to me. The past is prologue. Jack would want me to share with you my suggestions about how to take the lessons of the past and pay them forward to the future.
More than that, he would want me to find people to come on board and become the Jack’s and Harry’s of the fire service. I can only do what I can do. The same is true for you. However, if we are to succeed we must work to create a new generation of teachers, trainers, and mentors. I have worked to do this. Let me ask each of you who are reading my words to find the one person who will help you train and educate the fire service of the future.
My friends you don’t have to be lonely. You need to reach out to the people around you and make friends. It is my strong recommendation that you must share what you know. You need to reach out and build relationships with the people in your fire department. There are those whom you look up to. If you like what they are doing, emulate their actions and activities. Share their knowledge with others and work to grow your own professional network.
ET might have been lonely. Our Lord might have been lonely. There I times when I have been lonely. ET had friends and enemies. Our Lord had friends and enemies. I know I have friends, and I am fairly certain that my adversaries are just around the next bend in the road of my life. But all of these thoughts must be accepted as the givens in each of our lives. However, it has been my experience that one of the important keys to success in the fire business requires us to work in teams and networks.
Let me close with a simple statement. You can be lonely or you can be surrounded with friends. Having been in both situations, I would urge you to reach out and create that network of friends. Look up and look around. It can be you key to operational success.