Not paying attention to outliers can be a tremendous cost.

L. David Marquet, former submarine commander and author of Turn the Ship Around!: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders, suggests that when we discover an outlying position we should create a mindset of “they may be right and I may be wrong,” and then explore it.

Keep your mind open to find new opportunities, understand others, and manage uncertainty.

Embrace the outliers!

Another great learning source is Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers: The Story of Success.

What makes someone fail as a leader? Not their physical skills or their mental toughness. It’s when their EGO becomes too big.

Listen to Leif Babin and Jocko Willink explain how leaders can get control of their egos. Learn to own problems and own the solutions.

Get their book, Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win and read it.

Found this video at Firefighter Close Calls.

Good ideas and real solutions are too often shut down with that short, cynical answer, “That won’t work.”

Effective leaders, on the other hand, are curious and want things to work. They respond by saying, “Tell me more.”

The first thing that went through my head when the doctor said I had cancer was that I’m gonna die. ~Boston Firefighter

I know that feeling. It’s the same thought that I had when I was told I had cancer, both times. I’ve battled cancer twice in the last 15 years, and so far, I’m still winning. I have a rare type of cancer that fights the gastrointestinal system. I don’t know if it’s work related, but I can’t imagine all those years of breathing smoke didn’t take some kind of toll on me.

There is a silent killer stalking us. It’s soundless and travels hidden all around the fire scene, and its deadly exposure is killing us. It’s been hiding in the shadows for years, but it’s worse now. State-of-the-art building materials designed to prevent flame spread and modern furnishings are giving off dangerous carcinogens. Our chronic exposure to heat, smoke, and toxins is what’s causing cancer to us. At a fire, we don’t think about what we’re breathing or absorbing into our bodies. We should.

This is serious and we must take whatever actions we can, right now, to do the things we need to do to protect ourselves from this silent and deadly killer. Wear your masks, clean your gear. Change those old bad habits, be aware, and look out for each other. It won’t be easy, but we need to be willing to do whatever it takes!

This is a good question to ask yourself, and often.

Barry Posner asserts in this TEDx video that we follow people we believe that are credible – competent, honest, forward-thinking, and inspirational. He says, “People will not believe the message, if they don’t believe in the messenger.”

To better connect Posner’s wisdom to the fire service, check out what Wildland Fire Leadership has to say about the qualities a leader must possess for followers to follow.

Then ask yourself, “Why would anyone follow me?”

“A fairly straightforward operation,” as described by FDNY Battalion Chief Joseph Jardin, still requires good decision making, and fast! Especially when two window washers are trapped on a dangling scaffold nearly 70 stories up the new 1 World Trade Center tower.

Effective command and control, combined with real teamwork and the right tools and procedures can bring a complex and dangerous situation to a positive outcome. It did here!

Read more about the 68th floor challenge here.


New research is shedding light on how we fight fires and in some cases, challenge long-accepted practices. This video highlights the key lessons from this research that will hopefully get you thinking deeper and maybe incorporate them into your department’s operations.

Points to Consider:

  • Fires are more volatile today because of building design and construction, and fire load materials (this stuff burns faster and hotter).
  • Early application of water reduces the thermal threat to firefighters (do something to the fire and everything gets better).
  • Forcible entry openings should be considered as ventilation (as the building changes, so does the fire behavior).
  • The SLICE-RS method is intended to serve as the initial attack sequence for first arriving companies whereas, RECEO-VS serves as command priorities to help guide the incident commander through the process.

Watch and listen, dig deeper into everyone’s thoughts and see how this research can help your department operate safer and more effectively.

Listening to music stimulates your thinking, but playing a musical instrument is like cross fit for your brain. Here’s why playing music is a mental workout that builds long term strength to help you observe, orient, decide, and act. Think I’ll take my guitar to work.

Go to TED-Ed here to see the lesson plan and a deeper discussion.