In The Right Environment, We Can Do Remarkable Things

A deep sense of trust and cooperation builds relationships. Strong relationships make us feel safe inside our organizations. Great leaders want to build opportunity and confidence in their organizations. They want their members to feel safe. And when the  members feel safe, they will innovate and move forward. And the organization, and the people in it will grow.

I just finished listening to Simon Sinek’s latest book, Leaders Eat Last at audible.com. More on that later.

If You Want To Change The World…

United States Naval Admiral, William H. McRaven, delivers sound advice in his commencement speech to the University of Texas Class of 2014. Below are the quick notes on what to do. Listen to the speech to find out why and how to do it.

  • If you want to change the world, start by doing the little things right: make your bed.
  • If you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle.
  • If you want to change the world, measure people by the size of their heart.
  • If you want to change the world, get over being a sugar cookie and move forward.
  • If you want change the world, don’t be afraid of the circus.
  • If you want to change the world, sometimes you have to slide down the obstacles head first.
  • If you want to change the world, don’t back down from the sharks.
  • If you want to change the world, you must be your very best in the darkest of moments.
  • If you want to change the world, start singing when you’re up to your neck in mud.
  • If you want to change the world, don’t ever ring the bell.

Also, read the workingfirechief’s blog for his thoughts on “Changing the fire service for the positive and keep good traditions alive.”

How will you help change the world?

Margin: Is There Room For Error?

What is margin and how does it impact operations in a complex and dynamic environment?

Watch this video from WildlandFire LLC to learn how margin looks to us in the field, and if we understand it, how we can use it to be safer and more effective.

We all have the power to control margin. What actions can you take to build margin?

Fighting Fire in The Lion’s Den


A family had had to make for a quick exit when their van caught fire while touring the lion enclosure at a wild animal safari park.

The family was rescued by park rangers and the lions were moved (eventually) to another location.

What problems are created, and what tactical and Command solutions (strategies) must be applied?

Dust-Devil Becomes “Firenado”

Rocky Mountain firefighters were surprised by the unexpected collision of a dust-devil and a brush fire. It became a “firenado.”

Watch the CNN story here.

Five TED Talks Every Firefighter Should Watch

The TED2014  Conference: The Next Chapter just finished up this week in Vancouver, Canada. It was the conference’s 30th anniversary.

TED Talks are devoted to spreading ideas, and it’s done through short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less) delivered by just about anyone from world leaders to previously unknown school teachers. TED topics include a variety of talks from science to art to leadership to understanding social and global issues. The Talks will make you think and give you a deeper understanding of our world and the roles we play in it.

As firefighters, our mental-ability is just as important as our physical-ability. We must understand why we’re here, how we think, and what we really do that makes a difference. We need thinking leaders at every level.

Here are 5 TED Talks every firefighter should watch:

With help from some surprising footage, Derek Sivers explains how movements really get started. (Hint: it takes two.)
“The key to inspiring a large group? Getting that single first follower.”

Simon Sinek has a simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership all starting with a golden circle and the question “Why?” His examples include Apple, Martin Luther King, and the Wright brothers …

An orchestra conductor faces the ultimate leadership challenge: creating perfect harmony without saying a word. In this charming talk, Itay Talgam demonstrates the unique styles of six great 20th-century conductors, illustrating crucial lessons for all leaders.

Four-star general Stanley McChrystal shares what he learned about leadership over his decades in the military. How can you build a sense of shared purpose among people of many ages and skill sets? By listening and learning — and addressing the possibility of failure.

With profound simplicity, Coach John Wooden redefines success and urges us all to pursue the best in ourselves. In this inspiring talk he shares the advice he gave his players at UCLA, quotes poetry and remembers his father’s wisdom.

What are your favorite TED Talks?

Thinking FAST and SLOW Influences Our Decision Making

Our brains process information in two very distinct ways: One way is FAST thinking which acts automatically based on our experience or what we see, and the other is SLOW thinking where our body speeds up (our muscles tense, our pupils dilate, and our heart rate increases) but our brain slows down. Both FAST and SLOW thinking influence our reactions and drive our decision making.

Depending on the complexity of the situation and the risk involved, firefighters must be able to use either FAST or SLOW thinking.

Watch this short video from AsapSCIENCE for important information about how we make decisions.

How do you practice decision making in complex situations?

Want more information on decision making? Read Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow which describes in detail, with several examples, how our brains have two systems, or speeds to help us make decisions. Also a must read is Gary Klein’s Streetlights and Shadows which sums up his take on rapid prime decision making in complex situations.


The Reflex of Character [Michael Hyatt]

Posted by Michael Hyatt on February 24, 2014.

The foundation of effective leadership is character. Nothing else has more impact. Nothing else has greater reach. And nothing else can make up for its lack—not education, experience, talent, or contacts.

Every now and then you hear a story about someone’s character that brings this principle into sharp focus. I had this experience just last night.

Gail and I watched a segment on 60 Minutes about “The Shooting at Chardon High.” If you are like me, you probably don’t even remember the incident. (Sadly, school shootings have become so commonplace they are no longer memorable.)

Here’s the background. Two years ago this week, a student-turned-gunman killed three of his fellow students and wounded three more in Chardon, Ohio. There would have been undoubtedly been many, many more if Frank Hall, the assistant football coach, had not intervened.

When the gunfire began, Coach Hall did the unthinkable. Instead of diving for cover, he stood up, pushed his table out of the way, and started pursuing the gunman.

The gunman fired at him twice and missed. Hall kept coming, pursuing the boy out of the building. Though he lost him in the parking lot, he successfully got him away from the students. (The police apprehended him in the woods soon after.)

Meanwhile, Coach Hall ran back inside to try and help those who were dying while they waited for emergency responders to arrive on the scene. The entire assault—from the gunman’s first shot until he exited the building—lasted just forty-seven seconds.

Twice during the story, Scott Pellsey referred to the coach’s heroism as “the reflex of character.” I didn’t understand that phrase fully until I watched the whole segment. I encourage you to do the same.

As it turns out, the shooting incident was like the visible part of an iceberg. What wasn’t visible was Coach Hall’s character. Though it was tested in an instant, he had spent a lifetime building it—one choice at a time.

That’s how it often is.

For each of us, there comes a moment—perhaps several such moments—when we don’t have time to think. We can only react. And we do so out of our character.

What we do flows out of who we are. Being precedes doing. How we respond comes as a result of all the choices we have made throughout our lives.

Our choices become our actions. Our actions become our habits. Our habits become our character.

This 60 Minutes story reminded me again of why deciding to be a person of character is the single most important leadership decision you will ever make. Everything else pales in comparison.

Note to leaders: Watch the above video with your team and then lead a discussion about the importance of character in leadership. The video is only thirteen minutes long and well worth every minute.

Question: What can you do today to cultivate your character?

For more on helping leaders leverage influence, go to MICHAEL HYATT.

Row House Fire: Philadelphia

Video by: phillyfirenews. Video info: Row Home Fire in West Philadelphia on Friday, Jan. 17, 2014. The fire was located on the 1600 block of N. 60th Street. Video provided to PhillyFireNews.com by Fox29

Apply Intentional Command to efficiently synchronize resources and effectively attack rapidly evolving, complex and severe problems.

Full Speed Size Up

  1. What is the occupancy?
  2. What is the life hazard?
  3. Where are the occupants?
  4. Where is the fire?
  5. What is the fire doing to the building and where is it going?
  6. What is the ventilation situation?

What problems are created, and what tactical and Command solutions (strategies)  must be applied?