Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Badge in Your Pocket

Imagine for a moment that one day in casual passing, the firefighter, Chief, or your favorite instructor: the fire service someone you most admire, tucked a little note into your hand. Wrapped in the note was a fire department badge. The badge they’d worn for decades, and the best part of their career.

Now imagine for a moment, you are the one giving the badge.

There’s considerable talk these days about the photos in your wallet. The visual icons of the spouses, kids, significant others, and even pets, to which we vow to stay safe for and always come home to. Consider in this same fashion, not just the badge you currently wear, but the one you thought about above as it was given to you. Consider too, the badge you'd give someone; and what is it about that person that moves you to give them your most treasured badge?

As we go through our careers we make choices and are chosen. Those we choose to admire, respect, and glean knowledge from will not only mold us into the firefighters we become, they mature us into our fire service career. At the start few of us realize, between the giving and the getting, is an enormous amount of mentoring, leadership, and a variety of roll models.

Mentors give us direction and help us learn and refine valuable skills.

Leaders keep us on track and within boundaries that progress our careers

Roll models possess the complete set of core values, on and off the fire ground, that we aspire to.

The majority of firefighters most likely go through their career never identifying or considering those who influenced the establishment or growth of their career. The mentors, leaders, and roll models who impact us are dynamic. Whether we recognize them or not, they exist. Some grow and stay with us from the start, others come and go.

The challenge we most face is knowing who to watch and learn from, who to follow when and how, and most of all, knowing and honoring when we ourselves are being watched and followed. The answers come a little easier when you know who's badge you'd carry in your pocket, and who you'd be most honored to have carrying yours.