Greetings all! Hopefully, you have not experienced any lasting ill effects from the frigid temperatures we had or the ongoing pandemic. At this point, I am sure you are all getting excited and making those final plans to attend Convention 2021, oh wait, no convention again, thanks COVID-19! With that in mind we will hold the annual delegate meeting on Sunday, May 2, at the Missouri State Fair Fire Department so please plan on attending so you can make your voice heard within the organization.
In this edition let’s talk about sin! Ok, now that I have your attention we aren’t going to discuss sin in detail, but we will talk about one of the seven things commonly referred to in some belief structures as a sin. The seven deadly sins, whether you believe in them or not, are listed as pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth. I am sure each of us has experienced some form of these items in our lives whether you were an active participant or just a bystander.
I want to talk about pride. The Merriam-Webster definition is: 1. a reasonable and justifiable feeling of being worthwhile: self-respect. 2. a feeling of being better than others. 3. a sense of pleasure that comes from some act or possession, Parents take pride in their children’s progress. 4. someone or something that makes someone proud, That car is my pride and joy. Now at face value that definition would make you question why it would fall into the category of sin. When you look at that definition I would venture a guess we have each exhibited at least one element included.
I believe the crux of the issue is not a matter of having or displaying pride, but it involves the level and way elements of pride are maintained or used. I think it is vitally important for each member of the fire service to exhibit pride.
Let’s face it, if we don’t have even a little pride in what we are doing or what the fire service stands for then are we likely doing no more than going through the motions of being a member?
Each of us should have pride in our organization and the part we play in the organization and our community. Without having a little pride why would you want to stick around and do this job? Most of us over the years have ceased being a part of one group or another and if you take a minute and think back I won’t be surprised if you lost some of your pride in the group, perhaps due to actions or inactions, and just knew it would be better if you stepped away.
So are you proud, do you have any pride? I hope you answered yes, but I also hope you know how to moderate the way you use your level of pride. Pride can be very damaging to an organization or individual relationships if left to run unchecked. Think about those people that you have been around that might fit in with #2 in the definition above. Man weren’t they a real joy to work with, always better than anyone else no matter what.
I would bet the only way the world still turned was because they allowed it to do so. These types of people can be very toxic to our profession and have caused harm many times over the years. Think about the person that meets this part and look at how you felt when working with them or even if you just had a class with them. How many times did you roll your eyes and as soon as you were out of earshot what did you say? Are you one of these people? If so perhaps you should put a little work into taming your pride and do what may be best for the organization, your relationships, and the industry as a whole.
Instead of spending our time making ourselves feel all warm and fuzzy and overly prideful perhaps we should spend some time nurturing our fellow fire service members and organizations. I believe if you can create a better experience that allows everyone to reach their maximum potential your pride may just be lessened and your pride in being a part of something much bigger than yourself will be enhanced and the organization and the industry will benefit.
Notice I didn’t say we need to hand out participation trophies and I am not an advocate for the belief that everyone can perform every individual job known to civilization. What I said was we can all work towards helping others reach their maximum potential, everyone has a different maximum potential. Just imagine when we put our pride aside just a little and work towards a better industry.
How many of you have experienced the anvil dropped on your desire to try something new at your agency or make changes to the way something has been done forever? Think about where that anvil came from, was it due to a budget issue, or did it maybe come from someone’s pride? It may be a hard concept for some, but pride can keep people from looking at change. Remember we talked about change before and the fact that it is going to happen, good or bad. Change can be hard simply because someone cannot admit that what they have held pride about and have done for so many years may have been improved upon or proven to be a less desirable way of doing business. Don’t be the anvil crushing your agency. Have great pride, but put it aside a little when necessary to examine and possibly embrace new ways or practices, or heaven forbid return back to an “old” way of doing something.
I hope and trust that you would not currently be involved in the fire service if you didn’t have a little bit of pride in what you are doing. I would also imagine you take pride in the organization you belong to and perhaps even the position you hold in that organization. In most communities, the fire service is looked on with great admiration and respect.
Most communities take pride in having a fire service agency and seeing the good work that they perform. What have you done to make sure this level of pride is being maintained by your community about your organization? Did you just get arrested for stealing from the department or your neighbors, did you just get picked up for a DUI, did you just have a big fight at the local tavern or even better, in your front yard?
If you did, you might want to consider the pride your community had for your organization just took a pretty big hit.
I have said before if a firefighter is involved in anything less than positive, even when not work-related, the headlines will read “Firefighter charged with…” This does not score any of us any pride points with the public so, don’t do it!
So to wrap this up, remember pride is a good thing when used in moderation and for the benefit of yourself and others. Remember also pride can be a bad thing when you don’t keep it in check and can work through your organization or your relationships like cancer. Do a good job, do the right thing, and please make sure you do what you can to maintain pride in your relationships, organization, and the fire service industry!
As always, if I can be of assistance to you or your organization please contact me. Be safe!