Thursday, September 2, 2010

What a Difference… A Minute Can Make


Have you ever recognized what a difference a single minute in your life can make? Most of us only count down the minutes at the end of the day near quitting time, or when we are waiting for a big event. We never really recognize just how important every minute is because every minute makes a real difference. It is important to remember that for everything there is a season, a time for every activity. We need to make sure we are using our minutes wisely

Be Aware of Critical Moments
A critical moment is when you make a decision that has a critical impact on your life. These can include fire ground decisions, career decisions, attitude decisions or decisions on choice of words. These may last only a few minutes, hours or days. Sometimes these decisions may have impacts that last a life time. Most of our decisions are made in a rapid fire mode and are impacted by attitude. It is important to remember that attitudes are choices or decisions we make.

Some Individuals would look at a pile of rubble and say “what a mess” while others will look at the same pile and say “what an opportunity”. At this moment there is a critical decision going on. Which one of these individuals would you want leading the fire department in your community? Most would say the one who has a vision of what that “mess” could be. I recently had the opportunity to spend some time in the great State of Vermont training with a group of outstanding emergency services professionals in Addison County. What a breath of fresh air. The amount of energy that was delivered to my starving body was incredible from spending just 48 hours with such great fire service leaders. I was able to reflect upon 50+ years of leadership legacy that was still going strong. That’s right; the fire chief of Vergennes Fire Department the late Ralph Jackman had been the Chief for 50+ years. The best part was he looked at everything in a progressive, proactive philosophy of saying “look at that opportunity”. He understood that every minute made a difference and he understood these critical moments and the importance of a positive attitude even when the chips were down and things were not going as he may have hoped or wanted.

As individuals and leaders of the fire service we must look at opportunities with vision. We must be able to decode the “mess” into “opportunity”. It is paramount that we focus on the concepts that it shouldn’t be this way, but we can make it something else. These are truly hectic times we live in, times that can challenge even strongest of seasoned leaders or firefighters.

Regularly ask yourself three (3) questions…

1. Who and what is influencing me?
There are many individuals and things that can influence you. Subsequently you must ask yourself if these influences are positive or negative. Many times your influences can be strong positive ones while other times they can be the negative ones that you fall victim too. It is important to have strong positive influences in our lives. Remember ever time you choose to follow an influence it is a critical decision and becomes a critical moment in your live. “
“Choose wisely Grasshopper”

2. Where does my mind naturally go?
What are you thinking about when you have free time or where does your mind drift off too frequently. Where your mind goes will have a big influence on critical moments in your life. Make sure that the place your mind is visiting is worth being there!

3. What am I passionate about?
What do I really like in life is another way to say this. Well often times when we get to this level of soul searching we can see that we have things a lot better than others. Often times it is a big reality check that we realize we are not following or doing our passions. It is important to make sure that your passion is not a negatively impacting one as well. Remember everything is influenced by our attitudes; you should always be reminding yourself that your attitude is like a disease and is yours truly worth catching.

Don’t Miss Opportune Moments
We should all be reminded just how brief our time being alive really is. None of us will live forever. We are merely moving shadows and all our busy rushing ends in often times nothing. Opportune moments don’t have to be big successes, but can be as simple as learning how to do something new. We are all busy and miss the opportunity to celebrate great moments. So with all this rushing around and what we are missing let’s look at what happens when you get in a real hurry or act in haste…
• You feel stressed.
• You lose your joy...simplified your laughter, special times and moments of impact.
• You are less productive.
• You can’t hear or see anyone.

So if you don’t want to miss opportune moments or act in haste you need to slow done. You may ask, “how do I slow down"? Remember it is important that you work hard but take time to rest as well. I recently was out to eat lunch. A group of pastors were at this restaurant as well. I heard one of the pastors state I always remind my congregation that the Devil never rests, another pastor asked since when did we start following his lead. Silence fell on that group for a moment and the first pastor replies wow I never looked at it like that! So what are some helpful hints to get you to slow down?
• Participate – Go and do more with family friends, colleagues.
• Delegate – Don’t put that big Superman “S” symbol on your chest. It usually doesn’t signify you are “Superman” but more like “Stupid man”
• Procrastinate – Stop and think before you act or speak, often times take more than just a second in this case. I see great leaders take days, weeks and months to act on items to keep from making poor decisions.
• Eliminate – Eliminate all the bad influences, attitudes and passions

Please don’t waste your minutes…they may be running low and you don’t even know it!
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