Josh Sanders

Perspective

Recently I posted a traditional written blog on FirefighterMedic.com and based on the positive response we received, I decided to share it with you here at FireCareers.  The topic of perspective is so important to me, and should be to you, not only because it pertains to your career journey but because gaining & keeping perspective is what life is all about.  There is also a short video blog for which we have provided a link to view that gives some additional information above and beyond the written blog below, you can find the link here:  Perspective (video blog)

At the heart of this concept is the ability to keep the big picture in mind, and to remember what is most important.  This is so hard for us to do as human beings (1) because many times the big picture is unclear to us, or we lose trust that the right things will take place in our life, and (2) many times we don’t KNOW what’s most important, so it’s hard to make accurate valuations of events while we are so close to them.

At the heart of this website (FirefighterMedic.com) is a commitment to offer mentorship to those who seek it, as we see a tremendous value in being able to offer a type of guidance that cannot be found in books.  So how can one teach the concept of perspective, without knowing the individual plight & circumstances surrounding each candidate’s career journey?  The idea I arrived at was to describe parts of my career journey in the hopes that lessons could be drawn from them; in hopes that you could avoid learning some lessons the hard way; in hopes that you could finish this blog with an appreciation of what I mean when I use the word Perspective:

It’s been over 10 years since I sat down in an EMT class to start my journey in emergency services, and I can still remember it like it was yesterday.  I didn’t know anyone in the fire service or the class that day, I wasn’t even sure I was in the right classroom!  But since that day, I’ve had moments I’ve been proud of and moments I’d like to have back and do over, along with lots of other learning opportunities in between.  I’ll try to describe a few below.

Things I’ve been proud of:

  • Long days, hard work – feels good to push yourself
  • Doing the right thing when no one was looking and wouldn’t ever know
  • Volunteering for shitty assignments, and taking pride in the work
  • Paying others compliments, and meaning it
  • Getting my shit handed to me, and not crying about it, but challenging myself to grow from it
  • Not complaining, but biting my lip when things got tough, and keeping my negative thoughts to myself
  • Taking every extra class I could reasonably attend in an effort to learn and grow
  • Going to a critical call, and feeling like I could be counted on as a competent member of a well-trained team.  I think as a Firefighter, EMT or Paramedic, nothing trumps this feeling – we just want to do our job and be part of something bigger than ourselves as we work toward a common goal.

Moments I’d like to have back:

  • Stressing out about stuff that was out of my control
  • Getting into arguments with people.  Remember that compliments come & go, but when negative stuff happens to people, they hang onto that FOREVER.  Arguments have a tremendous potential to create enemies – period
  • (On a similar note) Calling someone out – even when they deserved it: being anything less than positive, towards others, towards myself, is something I look back and regret.  There’s just nothing positive that comes from conflict – external or internal
  • Valuing the work over the relationships:  days where I buried myself in work instead of hanging out with the fellas and getting to know them better
  • Cracking some wise-ass remark that I know is funny but will definitely get me in trouble:  there’s this split second thought of “fuck it, this has to be heard” and the laughs that ensure were not worth the punishment endured afterwards
  • Not going to sleep earlier – when on duty, what am I doing up so late?  When the bell rings, respond.  You don’t have to wait up for it
  • Not working out every day at work.  I’m a master at making excuses for why it shouldn’t/couldn’t happen, but bottom line is that when I work out first thing in the morning and get it over with, the entire day is better – on every level
  • Going to a critical call, and blowing something – wrong radio channels, wrong tool, bad decision making, etc – everyone is bound to make mistakes over the course of their career.  But it is just the absolute shittiest feeling to feel like you’ve let your team down, and an even worse feeling to feel like you’ve let down the very citizens that were counting on you to be a professional in their time of need.

Normal small stuff that’s actually important big stuff (things I’ve learned):

  • Keep your uniform looking sharp – there is a direct correlation between sloppy uniform and “I don’t give a shit” attitude – look sharp to act sharp
  • Workout early in the day – doesn’t matter if it’s a small workout or you go for personal records – do SOMETHING.  That night, as you lay your head down on the pillow, you’ll feel better about yourself
  • The details are everything: finish what you start, even when it’s difficult and inconvenient
  • Be the first person to: be on the rig, volunteer, step up for work
  • To be a good leader, you must be a good follower.  To criticize a leader is easy, instead, look to how you can lead from where you stand today.  Usually this means: just do your job
  • Volunteering to cook and serving a good meal for others will do more to endear yourself to them than almost anything you can do on a given day
  • Treat every patient/victim as you would your most loved relative; treat every coworker as your most respected peer; strive to treat all members of your organization the same – from a teenage fire explorer to a veteran fire chief
  • Remain in the moment and take the time each day to find something positive to enjoy and appreciate – this job gives you many opportunities – it’s up to you to find it.  Don’t look for others to find it for you

Is this an exhaustive list? By no means, and I don’t claim to have all the answers.  But the one thing most people need to gain perspective is experience – born of time and repetition.  As you start your career journey, these are the two things you don’t have and can’t buy, borrow or skip past – you have to take what others have learned and try to build on it.

I hope you can build on the some of things I’ve included here today.  If you have any questions or need feedback on your specific questions, please email us:  info@firefightermedic.com

Thank you for reading and good luck to you during your career journey!

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