Disorganized, reactive business owners and other managers often complain of continually being drawn into “fighting fires,” meaning that emergencies and failures frequently demand immediate, ad hoc attention. I find this metaphor comical since real firefighters do not operate in the haphazard, seat-of-the-pants manner so familiar in many businesses. Professional firefighters–well, there’s the answer right in the modifier. The people responding to actual hot fires are professionals. They train, they plan, and they follow proven procedures.
My friend, Brad Mayhew, is the real deal. A former hotshot wildland firefighter, just like the ones in the movie, Only the Brave, which dramatized the tragedy of the 2013 Yarnell Hill Fire. Brad also worked on the investigation into why that crew died.
One of Brad’s lessons from the dangerous wildland kind of firefighting can help those engaged in the safe office kind of “firefighting.” During the Coal Canyon Fire in 2011, two firefighters found themselves in a vehicle surrounded by flames. One was soon overcome by the fumes and heat. Hearing their distress calls, Reese, a nearby firefighter, radioed back that the survivor must leave the vehicle immediately and run fifty feet through flames, fumes, and hot ash to reach safety.
Would you accept that advice from a co-worker? How about from someone who didn’t even work for your company, a supplier or client? That firefighter is alive because he took the advice. Here’s he did, as Brad wrote in Firehousemagazine:
“‘I have a close relationship with Reese. Because of who he is and because it came from him … that was what we had to do.’”
How did they get to know and trust one another? Training together. Agencies in the area hold joint large-scale scenarios, live-fire exercises, simulations and classroom training. Training together builds trust and familiarity across agency lines.
But it had not always been that way between these fire departments. They used to be like the different departments in many dysfunctional commercial enterprises:
Twenty years earlier, agency relationships were described as “very contentious” with “mutual resentment and animosity.”
Local leaders decided to fix this: “We all just finally understood that the old ways and the animosity were getting us nowhere, and that it’s not about ourselves. We were not serving the people on the ground. We weren’t getting the firefighters what they needed. That’s wrong. We … needed to set the example” (SAI Report, D&A). The Report goes on to say, “It took 10 years of deliberate effort to transform relationships among cooperators.”
I have never heard in a funeral that this person made a lot of money or is politically very strong. They never discuss that. In a funeral, people discuss how this person was kind or gracious or had character and integrity. … I learned from the funerals that we must plan our funerals when we are young. Plan your funeral, start early, by being kind.
I desire to leave this world as I entered it — barefoot and broke. To many, that may seem like an odd, unrealistic, even foolish thing. Not to me. Too many wealthy people hoard their riches, believing that dying with a large bank account is a virtue. I read about one woman who died and left her dog $10 million. What’s a dog going to do with that kind of money? Help other dogs? I see it another way: If I die with nothing because I have given it away, humanity is the beneficiary.
I love this interview with professional athlete and philosophy professor Nick Riggle.
The high five is actually a recognition of the achievement of mutual appreciation. It’s a symbol of, “Hey, I recognize you as an individual, and you recognize me.”
Awesomeness is about creating communities of mutually appreciative individuals … It’s not a community where we all have to share the same values, or we all have to be Christian, or we all have to support a certain political candidate. It’s a more forgiving and appreciative community…. [it] allows us to stand out but stand together.
The badass just owns shit, right? What they choose to do with their life, they do it with expertise and confidence. … tackling what you set out to do with your life, and doing it with confidence and a kind of presentational verve.
The other category [of non-starter] is the fake-ass person. They’re someone who seems to take up the social opening, seems to be presenting their individuality… But in fact, they’re faking it. They’re not actually presenting who they are. This relation of mutual appreciation, what I call co-personhood, can’t be formed, because they’re presenting a fake persona.
Since 1996, I have led groups and individuals through a powerful goal-setting process with astonishing results: marriages, career changes, doubled incomes, published books, and more.
The two downloads linked from this post include all you need. Use the Specific Measurable Results (SMR) Kitworkbook and podcast to follow the same planning method my executive coaching clients have long employed. Like them, you can create a (more…)
Here is a simple yet powerful tool to establish habits, learn a skill, or complete a project. I used it to reinforce my daily meditation practice and to write two books.
The method is as old as procrastination but has been attributed recently to billionaire comedian Jerry Seinfeld, as in this frequently cited LifeHacker article, where it is called Don’t Break the Chain. I prefer positive instructions, so let’s name it Link-a-Day.
Buy or make a simple, clean one-year calendar. Do not just print your Outlook or Google calendar; those have too many distracting details for this purpose. You can start your own on any date and fit 365 days on one sheet by downloading my template here in Excel format or use the Google Sheets version here.
Print your calendar and place it in the physical world rather than hide it in a computer or app where it can be too easily ignored. Hang it where you will see it every day. I put mine on the wall right next to my computer monitor.
After you complete the promised activity for the day, mark it complete. When you miss a day or two, start again. No regrets, no excuses. Just start again. You can play games with Link-a-Day by playing for a longer unbroken chain or a shorter gap than last time.
That’s it. As Aristotle observed, a person is what she consistently does. Use this to start doing something you will be proud to be.
We are, therefore, wisely framed to be as warmly interested for a fictitious as for a real personage. The field of imagination is thus laid open to our use and lessons may be formed to illustrate and carry home to the heart every moral rule of life. Thus a lively and lasting sense of filial duty is more effectually impressed on the mind of a son or daughter by reading King Lear, than by all the dry volumes of ethics and divinity that ever were written. This is my idea of well-written Romance, of Tragedy, Comedy and Epic poetry.
I’ve been happily using Zoom to host my webinars and video conferences for a few weeks now. The service is solid and their tech support is outstanding: prompt, clear, and playful. If you are fed-up with Skype, GoToMeeting, or WebEx –I’ve tried ’em all– give Zoom a try.
Please help me by using my referral link here. I don’t know what Zoom’ll give me if you become a customer but I assure you their payment doesn’t affect my willingness to endorse Zoom or my relationship with you.