I’m a reader plain and simple. I like to read books so I can become a better father, husband, friend, leader and encourager. My personal collection of leadership books is quite frankly getting out of control, but I read them all, take notes, highlight throughout and recommend the winners to other readers.
While some people go on a shopping spree to buy “things,” I go on a leadership book-buying spree to build my library so I “never” run out of reading material. The challenge right now is to divide my time reading my books and the great fire service websites that are quickly becoming available. But, my books tend to win out because I have the compelling need to take notes, circle key points, fold pages and highlight throughout.
It’s been stated on more than one occasion that some firefighters just don’t like reading. Fair enough, but reading is a key part of learning and growing as a leader.
Luckily today there are audio books, webinars and blogs that can replace holding a book. And, luckily today there are bloggers that will quote authors to help others grow as leaders.
I’m always looking for inspiration from my books because leadership is leadership and it crosses all boundaries, so in this blog I will quote two authors and comment from a fire service perspective.
A.L. Williams, author of All You Can Do Is All You Can Do, But All You Can Do Is Enough
“Discouragement is at the bottom of so many negative actions. You'll face it every single day of your life. How you handle discouragement each and every day goes a long way in determining your success or failure in reaching your dreams.”
Who hasn’t been discouraged as a firefighter, officer or chief officer? The reality is we have all been discouraged. It’s easy to feel sorry for our self because things aren’t going our way and it’s easy to spin out of control when feeling sorry for our self becomes a habit. Things can really get nasty when you feel like you are the only person facing challenges and discouragement.
There is nothing worse than feeling like you are alone on an island with no one to talk to. Our pride becomes an enemy because we don’t want to let others know that we are feeling discouraged. Newsflash (I like that term) discouragement is a fact of life and in my opinion the leaders that push the boundaries of leadership will face challenges and discouragement on a regular basis because they are forging new territory, and this is a recipe for discouragement.
How do you handle discouragement? You handle it with your attitude and talking to others. It’s that simple.
Your attitude determines your pathway through the discouraging times and you decide whether it is going to be positive or negative.
Talking to others gives you the opportunity to rid your body of the stress and gets you out of your darkness. Talking can have healing properties and it’s good for the soul.
Here is something else to think about from A.L. Williams. “Folks, the difference between being great and being average and ordinary is such a thin thing it's almost too scary to talk about. A positive winning attitude is one of those, "little edges" that mean the difference between winning and losing.”
Jim Rohn, author of 7 Strategies for Wealth & Happiness
“Better is not something you wish, it is something you become.”
How do we become better? I would suggest that we become better by continuing to learn about our trade and by laying out a plan to become better. This by the way includes leadership.
Leadership is truly a craft to be mastered and we become better by pushing through our fears.
Too many great firefighters (and leaders) have never pursued their career dreams because they feared something. Maybe they feared how their buddies would view them if they wanted to pursue an officer or chief officer position? Or maybe they feared failing at a training course or promotional opportunity.
The list can be endless, but in order to become better at something, we must first accept responsibility for our own success and face our fears. We must step up to the plate and take control of our life. We will hit some curve balls, strike out a few times and even get the odd home run-it’s all part of life.
Being a firefighter means by default that you have talent. By using your creative talents you will become better and you can overcome your fears. Jim Rohn also stated, “accepting full responsibility is one of the highest forms of human maturity-and one of the hardest.”
Yes it is true…better is something you become. Embrace the journey.