Have Your Mind Full!

There has been a lot of talk and trending related to mindfulness.  I am a huge fan of being aware, responsible, guided, and appreciative.  These are my key elements of mindfulness.  Another approach to being mindful in the fire service is approaching each shift with you mind full.  Five actionable steps to having your mind full at work are:

Remove False Limits-  Firefighters have the ability to do both extraordinary acts of bravery, skill ,and strength while also performing underperforming rituals because its “the way it is always been done.”  Firefighter after firefighter across the nation have said, “this is great training, but my department/crew/individual will never change/adopt/train like this.”  We establish false limits on ourselves and others in our fire circles.  The same DNA that causes your fellow firefighters to want to perform well on the fire ground will drive them to perform well in all areas of their fire service career.  Don’t let the first roadblock to positive change be your false limits on what others will do, especially the limit you put on yourself.  Have your mind full of what you want to achieve and allow the real limits to temper your talent.

How vs. Can- Firefighters are “how to” people. Fill your mind with information on HOW to do something vs. CAN we do something. Incredible amounts of energy have been wasted on the debate of can we or can’t we do something while how we do something is left untouched. The next shift when the opportunity arises and the ‘can we’ question comes up, and you know it will, reframe the question and ask, “How do we get this done?”

Outcome or Process Focused- Outcomes are important.  The process to reach the outcome is critical.  In the fire service we often are mindful of the outcomes, but we need to have a mind full of the process to reach the outcomes.  All fires will eventually go out.  The outcome of fire suppression is assured. The process we use when we intervene to stop destructive fires is where we must live as firefighters.  The process of putting water on the fire for example.  Ma and Pa using the 5/8″ Hard Yarder (Garden hose) are putting water on the fire.  The outcome should be slow and less desirable than the fire department arriving and suppressing the fire.  If we perform the processes correctly then the outcomes potentially will improve.

Motivation-  Staying motivated is a constant struggle.  One of the key problems with motivation in the fire service is consistency.  We tend to want the mountaintop experiences of the big fires, or exciting training events, or the civilian rescue but those mountaintops come with deep valleys.  We are professionals and as leaders part of our job is to harvest the excitement of the mountain summit and fill it in the void of the boredom valley.  A mind full of fundamentals, preparation, training, brotherhood development and operation ideas will help to smooth the peaks and valleys.

Work vs. Play-  Firefighting is the greatest job I have ever had.  At times I have seen whole departments lose their joy of the game.  The fire service is a fun and rewarding place to play “fireman.” Does running code 3 still get your juice pumping? Does even the smallest fire make the day better?  Let your crew know!  We have it good!  When your mind is full of why you love the job it makes it so much easier to play the game.

Bring your mind full of the best ideas you have at being aggressive firefighters.  Step forward and attack the whole process of fire extinguishment.

-Ox

from Mindfulness http://www.ellenlanger.com/

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