As always, I want to give another thank you to all who forward this message to your departments and staff. You trust me enough to share my message to others, and I strive to not make you regret that decision.
To all reading this message: You have a hard job. I know that, as do countless other people across our communities and great nation. Sometimes encouragement is in short supply, and some of us are our out there working to change that, and to turn the tide of negativity.
It is during this time each year that we remember traits that shone through on this day. Traits that make us who we are, and make our country and your professions great. We remember sacrifice, courage and determination. We remember not only the over 450 fire and law enforcement that died that day, but the hundreds since of related diseases. We might read their names, go to a memorial, or we learn about their stories.
But what can we do, what can each of us do, to ensure that we help make their legacy count? I’ll tell a story for an example.
When I saw Captain America: Civil War with my family, I absolutely hated it, but not for the reasons you may think. It had lots of action. The acting was good, as were the effects. There were good lines and funny scenes. It held my attention for the length of the movie. (Spoiler warning)What I hated is (and maybe I’m just too analytical): Here is a bunch of “super heroes” who can figure out each other’s weaknesses and fight each other, but they can not see that the true enemy is not each other but DIVISION. Then near the end of the movie ONE of them figures it out AND KEEPS IT TO HIMSELF. I wanted to scream in the theater. Seriously.
But the more I think about it, the more I think that it sometimes resembles our workplaces and our families. We are close to each other and know what makes them tick. We know what gets to them and where the buttons are. Yet, sometimes we fail to come together and fight for each other and instead we fight each other. Sometimes the reality is this: It’s sometimes easier to “grab someone’s throat” then it is to “have their back”.
And we do it on hundreds of ways. Someone comes after your spouse and you’ll fight to the death, but they have a bad day and instead of being there you want to fight back. Drop a 99 or a Mayday and everyone comes running (as they should), but it something happens on the jurisdiction lines…well most of you know how that works.
Sometimes we are so busy that we fail to see where the real battles of our life are, and how insignificant the ones we choose to fight are. John Maxwell says “Teamwork makes the dream work”, but sometimes we just fail each other.
So I guess the reason I hated the movie is because I have lived it, and maybe in some sense still do. But that’s what all good parables, stories, and lessons do. They show us what makes us mad, and then holds up a mirror to our lives. It changes a “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” to an” Ouch, I guess I do that too. ”
What do we do? Maybe we reach out to that person in the other department that is a pain in the neck. Maybe we reach out to that department that we see running when there’s a distress signal that we don’t know much about. Maybe we talk to that guy who wants all the training and find out what he knows or why. Maybe we host a training and invite other departments (and we even provide the doughnuts). But more than that, we just help each other, encourage each other.
So what “team” am I failing, what “team” can I do more for? What areas do I need to grow? I know what my answers are. What about you?
In closing, as always, thank you so much for who you are, and all you do. I’ve said it before and will say it again: You all are heroes. I don’t know how often you hear it, but I’m certain it’s not nearly enough.