I hope everyone’s summer has gone well and you had the opportunity to get those things done you wanted and maybe even carved out a little time to rest and relax. For those of you that represented the FFAM by working at the Missouri State Fair Fire Department, I extend my personal thanks and thank you on behalf of the citizens of Missouri and those visiting our great state for your dedication and willingness to serve in such a unique agency.
In this edition why don’t we talk about memories. Each of us have developed many memories over the years and will continue to do so at least up until the day we pass. Some of those memories are treasured and bring great joy to us when we reflect on them, but others are not so good and sometimes as much as we try they just don’t go away. Stop, before you don’t read any further because you think we are going to rehash a current topic of job related mental illness and PTSD, we are not headed there.
It has been said that all of our experiences and all of the memories that result from those experiences blend together to make the person we each become. If you are fortunate to have only good experiences and positive memories then I applaud you and hope you bring a ray of sunshine into everyone’s life you touch. Of course if this is the case it is likely you are not in the emergency services field. As most of you know our line of work exposes us to the worst days of a lot of people’s lives and even though the tragedy may not have happened directly to us, we will share that memory with those people forever. Due to that exposure we in the emergency services field tend to be a little more cynical or skeptical and have what I like to call, “a firm grip on reality.” No, I am not saying we should all run around being gloom and doom, I am just saying we may sometimes be a little less than a ray of sunshine.
How you use your memories is an important part of where you end up in life and it can directly affect those around you and the emergency services field. This is the issue of memories that I really wanted to touch on. From the very beginning of your career in emergency services perhaps you should think about, “how do I want to be remembered?” In other words, what memories of you do want others to hold? If you think about this early on you might be better prepared to fashion your career in a manner to not only make you better at what you do, but you just might help make someone else better at the job also.
Wouldn’t it be great to think that when you decide to leave this business that you have helped shape or improve what this industry was when you joined? Wouldn’t it be great to think that generations that follow you will have a clue what you did for the industry? I am not saying that we need to work towards seeking recognition for what we do, but I am saying we should be doing things that become a positive and influential portion of people’s memories. So how do you get there?
The cliché answer is one that is often bandied about and is simply, “be the best you can be.” While this is pretty simple on the face, we all know this can be very difficult. Do we all eat correctly, do we all exercise enough, do we all get enough sleep, do we all work at culturing our personal relationships enough, do we all put out enough effort on every task or incident and do we all put in enough time training? For most of us there is at least one “no” answer for this short list of things. Truth be told however each of these things and many more all can combine to help us reach our maximum potential. Once we work in that direction not only are we better for ourselves, but we are better for those around us and very importantly we are better for those in our industry.
If you share your memories with those around you, just think of the formal or informal knowledge you are sharing with others in the industry. I would imagine if someone ran an algorithm or other similar process on what happens when you share your memories and then those memories are shared again and again we would all be surprised at the number of potential people we each would influence. I hear on a regular basis that when the “baby boomer” generation folks leave this industry the amount of knowledge and subsequently the memories gained through the years that will walk out the door could be potentially devastating to the industry. Do you really think we should just sit back and be resolved to accept this possibility? I would hope you look at that and say no, I am going to make a difference and my knowledge and memories are going to live on in some fashion.
Now for you newer to the business folks who have already decided the “old folks” just need to get out of the way and let you do your thing. I ask that you step back and remember a few things. First, all of the things that the “old folks” learned and share from their memories were NOT always right. Keep this in mind because the same thing will happen to you, but by paying attention to what was shared you just might avoid some of the pitfalls. Secondly, one day you will be part of the “old folks” and there will be a whole new group ready to see you take your memories and move on. Wouldn’t you like to be remembered for the positive things you did? Third, no matter what you think at this point, the way you are doing things or want things to be done may not work out. Believe me those that have gone before you had the same process happen in their careers also.
So somewhere way back at the top I was talking about memories. With any luck your good memories of the emergency services field far outweigh the bad. Also, with a little luck you are willing to share your memories, not just bore those around you with the “war stories,” so each of those coming behind you will be better at what they do. It is through this sharing of memory process that we learn and we grow whether we really acknowledge that or not. So give some thought about what you want to do with your memories and how you want to be remembered in the memories of others or the emergency services field.
As always, if I can be of assistance please contact me.