As individuals and leaders of the fire service we must look at opportunities with vision. We must be able to decode the “mess” into “opportunity.” It is paramount that we focus on the concepts that it shouldn’t be this way, but we can make it something else.
The minutes, hours, days, years and so on measure time. Time helps us to make a good habit of organizing and structuring our daily activities. No one can escape the passing of time. We are all subjected to ageing and mortality.
Time plays a significant role in our lives. If we better understand the time value, then it can gain experience and develop skills over time. Time can also heal things whether external wounds or feelings. Time is that ultimate thing which we cannot measure. Activities, when performed during the time, will be fruitful, and the results will be great or devastating depending on how they were used or what they were used for. The great reference to time is “Time and tide wait for none.” Everyone should understand the value and importance of time.
Have you ever recognized what a difference a single minute in your life can make? Most of us only count down the minutes at the end of the day near quitting time, or when we are waiting for a big event. We never really recognize just how important every minute is because every minute makes a real difference. It is important to remember that for everything there is a season, a time for every activity.
Good time utilization allows you to accomplish more in a shorter period of time, which leads to more free time, which lets you take advantage of learning opportunities, lowers your stress, and helps you focus, which leads to better success. Each benefit of good time utilization improves another aspect of your life.
I am always humbled to see leaders who seize the opportunity to make a difference and lead. Oftentimes that opportunity only opens for a short duration but taking advantage of that moment oftentimes pays tremendous dividends in the long run. It is often only a minute needed to make a significant impact on an individual’s life, career or the organization. Having a good leader, one that leads from the front with passion for the profession, compassion for the people they serve and a tireless energy level is not often found. I fortunately have had the opportunity to serve with and serve under several great individuals who got it! They understood what a difference a minute could make, not only for the individual but also for the global picture, the employees,
the organization and communities
Be Aware of Critical Moments
A critical moment is when you make a decision that has a critical impact on your life. These can include fire ground decisions, career decisions, attitude decisions, compassionate acts or decisions on choice of words. These may last only a few minutes, hours, days or years. Sometimes these decisions may have impacts that last a lifetime. Most of our decisions are made in a rapid fire mode and are impacted by attitude. It is important to remember that attitudes are choices or decisions
Some individuals would look at a pile of rubble and say “what a mess” while others will look at the same pile and say “what an opportunity.” At this moment there is a critical decision going on. Which one of these individuals would you want leading the fire department in your community? Most would say the one who has a vision of what that “mess” could be.
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to spend some time in the great state of West Virginia training with a group of outstanding emergency services professionals at the Annual Emergency Services Conference at Pipestem. Early in my career I attended the first conference and have attended everyone since. What a breath of fresh air. The amount of energy that was delivered to my starving body was incredible from spending just 96 hours with such great fire service professionals, some which were leaders who impacted my career significantly. I was able to reflect upon 40 plus years of leadership legacy that was still going strong. That’s right; the individual who was over the conference, a retired fire chief of Mullens WV Fire Department and my first fire instructor Rick Rice.
The best part was he looked at everything in a progressive, proactive philosophy of saying “look at that opportunity.” He understood that every minute made a difference and he understood these critical moments and the importance of a positive attitude even when the chips were down and things were not going as he may have hoped or wanted. What is even bigger is that I can see his leadership and influence still impacting the fire service throughout West Virginia as his philosophies and passion lives on in the people he mentored. So we could say each of his minutes counted.
As individuals and leaders of the fire service we must look at opportunities with vision. We must be able to decode the “mess” into “opportunity.” It is paramount that we focus on the concepts that it shouldn’t be this way, but we can make it something else. These are truly hectic times we live in, times that can challenge even the strongest of seasoned leaders or firefighters.
Regularly Ask Yourself
These Three Questions.
- Who and what is influencing me?
There are many individuals and events that can influence you. Subsequently you must ask yourself if these influences are positive or negative. Many times your influences can be strong positive ones while other times they can be the negative ones that you fall victim too. It is important to have strong positive influences in our lives. Remember every time you choose to follow an influence it is a critical decision and becomes a critical moment in your live. “Choose wisely Grasshopper.”
- Where does my mind naturally go?
What are you thinking about when you have free time or where does your mind drift off too frequently. Where your mind goes will have a big influence on critical moments in your life. The destination of your mind is critical to the way you think. Your subconscious and thoughts truly influence your words and actions. Make sure that the place your mind is visiting is worth being there!
- What am I passionate about?
What do I really like or believe in is another way to say this. Well often times when we get to this level of soul searching we can see that we have things a lot better than others. Often times it is a big reality check that we realize we are not following or doing our passions. It is important to make sure that your passion is not a negatively impacting one as well. Remember everything is influenced by our attitudes; you should always be reminding yourself that your attitude is like a disease and is yours truly worth catching.
Don’t Miss Opportune Moments
We should all be reminded just how brief our time being alive really is. None of us will live forever. We are merely moving shadows and all our busy rushing ends in oftentimes nothing. Opportune moments don’t have to be big successes, but can be as simple as learning how to do something new. We are all busy and miss the opportunity to celebrate great moments. So with all this rushing around and what we are missing let’s look at what happens when you get in a real hurry or act in haste...
- You feel stressed.
- You lose your joy — simplified your laughter, special times and moments of impact.
- You are less productive.
- You can’t hear or see anyone.
So if you don’t want to miss opportune moments or act in haste you need to slow down. You may ask, “how do I slow down”? Remember it is important that you work hard but take time to rest as well. I recently was out to eat lunch. A group of pastors were at this restaurant as well. I heard one of the pastors state I always remind my congregation that the Devil never rests, another pastor asked “since when did we start following his lead?” Silence fell on that group for a moment and the first pastor replies, “wow I never looked at it like that!” So what are some helpful hints to get you to slow down?
- Participate: Go and do more with family friends, colleagues.
- Delegate: Don’t put that big Superman “S” symbol on your chest. It usually doesn’t signify you are “Superman” but more like “Stupid man.”
- Procrastinate: Stop and think before you act or speak, oftentimes take more than just a second in this case. I see great leaders take days, weeks and months to act on items to keep from making poor decisions which could have devastating effects.
- Eliminate: Eliminate all the bad influences, attitudes and passions
Please don’t waste your minutes. They may be running low and you don’t even know it!
Douglas Cline is Chief of the Training and Professional Development Division with Horry County Fire Rescue. He is the Executive Editor for The Fire Officer and Executive Director for the Command Institute in Washington D.C. A 36 year fire and emergency services veteran as well as a well-known international speaker, Cline is a highly published author of articles, blogs and textbooks for both fire and EMS. As a chief officer, Cline is a distinguished authority of officer development and has traveled internationally delivering distinguished programs on leadership and officer development. He also has a diverse line of training videos on leadership, rapid intervention team training, vehicle fires, hose line management, and emergency vehicle operations and fire ground safety and survival.