Fire Fighters Association of Missouri

A Message From The 1st VP – November 2020

Well, the one thing I can be sure about this interesting and complex year is, it’s almost over! I hope everyone has made the best of what we have been dealt, and have found ways to conquer the crazy and make some sense out of those things around you daily.

Let’s talk a bit about challenge in this edition. I know that I generally start with a one-word topic and then switch and go in some strange abstract way that makes you shake your head a bit, but hopefully, it does make you think a bit also and evaluate things around you that you can control.

I think without a doubt, everyone has some concept of what a challenge is, and almost everyone has faced a challenge or several during their lifetime. A challenge comes in so many forms it can boggle the mind. They can range from that childhood challenge of not stepping on a crack so you could avoid breaking your mother’s back, to serious things like health issues. That one rings a bell for us all at this point in 2020. Some of us face the challenge with a smile and at about three steps past warp speed. Others that we all know face challenges with a dismal attitude of gloom and doom and look at a challenge as another opportunity to fail.

I hope most of you have had the opportunity to kick off that gloom and doom approach and face a challenge for what it is, just a challenge. When you look around and see the many amazing things that have been accomplished by people who grabbed a challenge by the proverbial horns and made the best out of the situation. Can you even begin to imagine where your life would be if those before you or even you when your challenge arrives, had simply cowered and accepted defeat from the challenge?

So what might you face as an emergency services worker that could be a challenge? Oh, I would say just about everything that happens during your day. If that is even partially accurate, don’t look now, but you have been taking on the challenge. By your presence, you have been doing pretty well at putting a little whooping on them. I think one of the biggest moments of challenge you will face in this industry takes place every single day, and that is simply making things better than when you first joined. We all know if we stay stagnant and don’t work through the challenge of change, then our industry will eventually shrivel, and fade away. We all like to think no one can do without certain emergency service personnel, but the fact is if we don’t keep making things better, someone will take that as a challenge and will set out to prove there are alternatives.

Perhaps we should take a long look at this challenge and make sure we don’t give anyone else a reason to take on the challenge of replacing what we do with that alternative.

How do we face the challenge of our changing industry? We have many options, including participating in worthwhile training that can benefit you, your department, and your community. The more we can do to make ourselves and our agency better than the better off our communities will be. It is a pretty simple jump to realize what we do to meet the challenge of change will have lasting effects not only on the industry but on our community.
When a challenge arises in this industry, will you be a leader or a follower? If you say you will be a leader, then be aware you are accepting a challenge bigger than just the original issue. When you step up to lead in a challenge, you are shaping where things go and how they affect those around you. You can lead with efficiency and professionalism, or you can attempt to lead with intimidation, misdirection, and generally poor management. If you want to lead, then make sure you lead, not dictate. If you said you might just be a follower, that is not necessarily a bad thing. If there were no followers, then there would be way too many leaders, too many cooks in the kitchen. We all know how that turns out, and it doesn’t seem like it ends well very many times. What are you teaching those around you by the way you tackle a challenge? Are you presenting a good image for new members in the emergency service to follow when faced with a challenge? If your answer to either of these was less than an immediate positive reflection on how you handle things, I believe you may want to examine where you are. One of the things we have discussed in the past was about being a mentor. Can you imagine a better way to help mentor than to set a positive example when faced with a challenge? How you perform in addressing any challenge will often start a sort of ripple effect that just might be felt throughout your agency, community, or industry.

Let’s get it right!

One of the regular challenges we will face is how to get along better with our fellow humans.

It may be internal in your agency, internal in your industry, or many times external through the people we encounter or the places you go to. It is a challenge that is paramount in our existence as an industry.

If we can’t get along internally, then we will not fare well when “attacked” by outside sources. If we don’t meet the challenge of being nearly excellent in all we do, then we will not fare well in the long-term aspects of budgets and community support. If we do not accept and face the challenge of making ourselves and our agency better, then the outcome could be very tragic and perhaps deadly. If we don’t accept the challenge of a changing industry and make the necessary adjustments to meet the challenge, we may be condemning ourselves.

Do your part! Step up to the challenge when it arrives and face it head-on. Do what you can to conquer the challenge and keep yourself, your agency, your community, and our industry vibrant! Now is our opportunity to make all challenges simply a learning experience and building block for our futures.

As always, if I can be of any assistance to your or your agency, please contact me.
Be Safe!