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One of my least favorite sayings in the fire service is “Quitting is not an option.”

That is simply not true. It is in fact an option.

Actually, when things get hard; what is the first thing you are challenged to do? Oh yea, quit! Why do we keep shoving this down peoples throats like it makes us tough? It doesn’t. All you are teaching people to do, is to be unprepared with the thoughts and feelings of quitting once they arrive in their heads.

Maybe it’s time to teach people how to deal with the temptation to quit.

Maybe we tell them “Quitting is an option, but I’m going to show you how to push past it.”

Someone should do that.

Ok, I will. 

One of the biggest contributors to pushing past the thoughts of quitting is having a worthy goal or vision in mind when you set out to accomplish something in the fire service. I say worthy for a reason. I lofty goal does not really offer you a reward worth fighting for. A worthy goal offers you a worthy reward and the joys of sweet victory once you accomplish it!

You want to deal with and push past the thoughts of quitting?

What’s your goal?

Better yet, what’s your purpose?

A few years ago I had the opportunity to teach an academy at the training division. With an academy full of new recruits, I knew we were going to lose people for multiple reasons. However, my main goal was to not lose people to quitting!

I knew they would be pushed to the point of wanting to quit, but I needed them to understand that when those feelings presented themselves we pushed passed them. Why? Because we expected them. We prepared for those thoughts with a worthy goal. 

Day one of the academy I passed my firefighter badge around the classroom. The one I earned in my academy when I took the oath. I let them hold it, look at it, and picture having one of their own. Their goal was to graduate. Their goal was to be a firefighter and have their family and friends pin their own badge on them.

Their worthy goal was to obtain the title of firefighter that would give them a license to learn and grow in a new career. 

When things got hard, I reminded them of that moment.

I reminded them that quitting is an option, but if you push past that moment you will continue on a path to becoming a firefighter. It works the same way for you my friend. Quitting is an option.

So, when you are presented with that option; how will you handle it? Keel over, shut up and quit? Or will you look back on the reasons you got started with your challenge in the first place? 

Push past the option to quit. It’s too easy.

Need an example?

To quit writing this article, I literally just have to stop.

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

Josh Chase is a fire Lieutenant with Norfolk Fire Rescue, and is a 17 year veteran of the fire service. He has a passion for leadership and strengthening firefighters to lead at the informal level. Josh is also the recipient of the Fire Service Medal of Honor which he received in 2019 after rescuing a child from a two alarm apartment fire.

Josh has authored a couple of books with his latest book being Jump Seat Leadership: The guide to informal leadership in the fire service. He believes in leading yourself before leading others and that you do not need a bugle to lead in the fire service.

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