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Who likes changes?

One of the most popular sayings in the fire service is “We’ve always done it that way.”

Not only is that saying dated, it’s killing progress all over the fire service. There are new ways to do things. You may not like them, but they exist. Also, at the risk of trying something new just to try something new; why wouldn’t you just give it a shot? If it doesn’t work for you, don’t use it. Just don’t stay stuck because you’ve always done it that way. That’s a stupid reason.

This can apply to many topics in the fire service.

Strategy, tactics, leadership, the way we stretch a line, cut a hole in the roof or even mental health. I believe in the basics, but I believe in them as a foundation to build on and a starting point for new thoughts and ideas. So, stay open to change. Trust me, I’m still struggling with this one a little. I’m not a huge fan of change, I just have learned it’s necessary!

So, changes – let’s take leadership and mental health for an example.

Leadership in the fire service used to mean you had to hold a position of leadership to lead. That’s an old concept and it’s false. You need to care about your people. You need to gain influence with them for the sole purpose of helping them get where they need to go. Leadership is about leading. Going somewhere first, sticking your neck out, testing the water before the men and women under and around you do. Leadership is not about position, barking orders and sending people places you’ve never been willing to go yourself.

But, we’ve always done it that way… Stop.

Mental health; “Suck it up…It’s part of the job…marriage trouble comes with the job…isolation…depression…it’s fine…we’re fine…you’re fine…everyone’s fine…you need to be ok.”

Well that’s all garbage. A lot of us are not ok, and that’s ok!

The way we’ve have handled mental health in the past is mind boggling to me. If you look around, we’ve created a lot of our own problems by not taking care of our people when it comes to mental health.

Why? Because we’ve always done it that way.

The old timers handled it, we should be able to handle it. News flash, I know some solid old timers; they didn’t handle it and are now not handling it in retirement. All I’m saying here is that change is good.

Change breeds progress.

Don’t stay stuck because we’ve done it a certain way forever. Don’t be threatened by all the new people with new ideas (maybe just a few of them.) We’re headed into a new year hear mi compadres.

What have you been doing that you’ve always done? What’s not working? What can you change?

Change is good. Change is a friend of progress. If you want to stay stuck in your ways, that’s fine. Just don’t get mad at the people that are trying to get away from you.

This article was written by Joshua Chase of Jump Seat Leadership – Go see his book!

Bill Dungey is a volunteer firefighter in Ontario, Canada. He is focused on fitness, mindset development and finding training opportunities to help the fire service make things better.

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