Mentorship has been a crucial part of my safety and success in the fire service. It’s been enlightening to have a variety of people over the years that I could observe. They included firefighters and civilians from all ages and life experiences. My mentors had been places I’d never been, read books or listened to leaders I hadn’t heard of, and and done things I had never done. Many of them experienced the pain and processes that I would go through, and there was a lot I learned from them. I believe I was able to take away many lessons from them to help me work with and lead firefighters.
How did I find my mentors? It really wasn’t through any official program or plan I followed. I just stayed curious, so it came pretty easy and naturally. They were people with the same general passions that I had: always trying to do their best, to work better with others, and to find ways to help others. Here are three ways I found them:
- They were accessible to me. They were other firefighters, officers, teachers, community leaders, and friends and family. They were people I worked with, worked for, and met casually, sometimes in a classroom or coffee shop.
- They were people I met when I traveled. I attended the National Fire Academy and many conferences and seminars where I met new people who enriched my thinking and world view.
- They were people I listened to or read about. Some were speakers I watched on TED videos, while others I found in an assortment of magazines and books I read, from fiction to biographies to business.
Mentoring relationships are valuable. They don’t have to be complicated programs; they should just be simple friendships that help you shape your future.