Friday, November 28, 2014

Following Your Heart

 "Stress isn't working 15 hours at a job you like; stress is working 15 minutes in a job you dislike." ~ Kathleen Lane

When asked why we do what we do as wildland firefighters, many say, "I love what I do." Passion is an important driving force of success. If you don't love what you do, your heart won't be shown in your actions. Take a moment to watch Richard St. John's TED Ed video "The Power of Passion."



Video Takeaways:
  • Successful people love what they do.
  • Passions can be for professions, people, products, or fields of work. 
  • Limit the stuff you don't like to no more than 20% of what you do.
  • Passion can be mistaken for ambition.
  • Passion can turn underachievers into superachievers.
  • Explore many paths to find your passion.
  • Do what you do for love, not money.
Wildland Fire Leadership Challenge

Share and discuss this video with your team.
  • What are your passions? Are your passions found within your job?

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Food for Thought - Gratitude

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. – John Fitzgerald Kennedy

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. – John Fitzgerald Kennedy

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Justin Cutler Receives Kevin Hull Fire Leadership Award


Assistant Superintendent Justin Cutler accepting the Kevin Hull Fire Leadership Award
Assistant Superintendent Justin Cutler (middle) accepting the Kevin Hull Fire Leadership Award with State Fire Management Officer Rex McKnight (left) and Nevada State Associate State Director Marci Todd (right)

On November 12, Nevada State Associate State Director Marci Todd and State Fire Management Officer (FMO) Rex McKnight presented Justin Cutler, the Kevin Hull Fire Leadership Award. Justin is a member of the Silver State Hotshot and Assistant Superintendent.

The BLM Nevada State Leadership Team annually recognizes a fire employee with the Kevin Hull Fire Leadership Award. Kevin Hull was the Nevada state fire management officer from 1996 to 2005. Upon Kevin’s retirement, he presented the State Leadership Team with a challenge - to reward excellence in fire leadership throughout BLM Nevada.

“This award recognizes excellence in fire leadership by an individual or group of individuals who are nominated by their peers or supervisors, said Rex McKnight,” State FMO. “This annual traveling award is housed at the district office of the recognized leader until November of each year.”

“Justin has promoted leadership development not only for his crew, but for the whole State of Nevada BLM fire organization,” said Jon Palma, acting Carson City FMO. “Justin’s efforts continue to strive to advance our understanding of leadership and promote a culture of learning.”



For the 2014 BLM Nevada pre-season fire leadership training, Justin helped organized the ropes course for fire leaders in Nevada. This course encouraged people who are from different districts and different backgrounds to work together resulting in leadership development through group problem solving and cooperative decision making. At the conclusion, there was an abundance of positive reviews and everyone seemed to come away knowing each other’s strengths and weaknesses better, along with wanting to build a stronger team.

Justin played another key role in the States pre-season fire leadership training and in the Carson City Districts pre-season rollout. Justin was part of a core group of Nevada fire employees who participated in a site tour of the Yarnell Hill fire in the spring of 2014. That incident left a void in the fire community that needed to be addressed. From his experience on the site visit, Justin created a presentation that allowed group discussion during the Carson City Districts pre-season rollout and during the States pre-season fire leadership training. Justin led the much larger group through the presentation and he facilitated one of several small discussion groups.

Showing the commitment to a resilient organization, he looked for ways to strengthen himself and the Hotshot crew. Justin requested to attend a Mindfulness training over the winter to help him become a better leader through self-realization.

Justin’s commitment to learning more about leadership has helped him, the crew, and the state become more self-aware and work towards becoming better leaders.

By Lisa Ross, Carson City District public affairs specialist


Reprinted from BLM Nevada's website.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Learning from the Battle of Little Big Horn

Little Big Horn Battlefield National Monument.
(Photo credit: Bryan Karchut, Black Hills NF)

Black Hills National Forest employees recently participated in a leadership staff ride at the Little Big Horn Battlefield National Monument. The staff ride was presented by OMNA International, a group known for experiential leadership development for organizations around the world. This opportunity afforded Black Hills employees the experience of operational leadership from both the Lakota and U.S. Calvary’s perspective and how a community prepares for, protects against, responds to, and recovers from a catastrophic threat.



Little Big Horn Battlefield National Monument
(Photo credit: Bryan Karchut, Black Hills NF)

Little Big Horn Battlefield National Monument
(Photo credit: Bryan Karchut, Black Hills NF)

The staff ride, held on October 9th and 10th, was based in Sheridan, WY. The students were comprised of primary and secondary firefighters from the Black Hills National Forest who also represent Type 1 and Type 2 Incident Management Teams in the Rocky Mountain Region.

Little Big Horn Battlefield National Monument
(Photo credit: Bryan Karchut, Black Hills NF)



Monday, November 24, 2014

Food for Thought - Choosing to Lead

Leadership is a tough choice. Leaders choose to sacrifice their own needs for those of their teams and organizations. –Leading in the Wildland Fire Service, page 6

Leadership is a tough choice. Leaders choose to sacrifice their own needs for those of their teams and organizations. – Leading in the Wildland Fire Service, page 6
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#fireleadership #fireminis

Friday, November 21, 2014

How Might We?

Needle and thread
(Photo credit: Hemera Technologies)
How Might We?
by Jay Stalnacker

I’ve been sewing since I was a young boy. At first, I was embarrassed to share this as I grew up within the typical adolescent male driven world but later realized it as an invaluable skill.

I remember coming into my grandmother's house with torn pants from a game of street football. We played tackle on the asphalt between parked cars and unrelenting traffic. Out of bounds was typically associated with a serious injury and thank goodness it was before car alarms. My grandmother was use to sewing tears, rips and patches on our clothes But this time she sat me and my cousin Teddy down and was intent on teaching us to sew. She started by reminding us that she had to sew her own dresses as a child, and there was no quick run to a Walmart. Money was tight during the depression; and if you wanted something, you had to make it. The simple stitch she showed us that day would serve me well. I have probably used it a thousand times, sewing buttons, patches, parachutes and skin. It was a magical secret she shared with us that would open the door to so many interesting conversations, opportunities and occasional solutions.

I’ve sewed off and on for many years after that first lesson; but until I was a jumper, I had no idea how much my grandmother's lesson would have so many life applications. I remember walking into the Grangeville jump base sewing room for the first time. No rookie was allowed to touch anything without asking first; so the constant temptation to get in there was a rookie trap for trouble. There was Gore-Tex, nylon, canvas and all kinds of webbing and p-cord laying everywhere. For many of us, it was a artist studio awaiting our ideas of creating better line packs, rain gear and wallets. As the season progressed, we were eventually allowed into the sewing room. Soon we would be making parachutes, packs and repairing Nomex. Some just didn’t enjoy the down time work, but I greatly appreciated the opportunity to help out and let my creative juices flow. The importance of our sewing was just as life-critical as fighting fire. We would be jumping out of planes trusting the repair sewn into our chute would hold. It was great to be part of the conversations and creativity to design new, better and safer gear and equipment. The conversation always started with “how might we…”

Kerry, our leadership instructor, struck a note with me the first day of class as he used that phrase over and over. It brought back memories of the jump base and listening to my grandmother as she shared her sewing secrets and stories of family and life. Sewing brought us together as a family and a bunch of jumpers. The amazement of creating, repairing and improving something by stitching together random patterns and pieces is something that reminds me of leadership.

As leaders we start with identifying needs, developing new ideas, and like sewing sometimes repairing tears. It always begins with the first stitch. This one is the anchor and knot that if done improperly will always bind you up. I look at the leader as the first stitch. My grandmother shared that there are many ways to stitch, but the key is a good anchor knot. Every leader has their own methods, traits and weakness. A great leader anchors themselves so that the stitching will have a strong start. The next step is the accurate stitching of the seam. You try to keep it neat, straight and strong. This is the leader's role to guide, coach and mentor. Sometimes it also requires pulling some thread and cutting out some tangles. The finish stitch is the most important. You have to tie off that thread. You have to make sure that all your work when tested with the pulling and grabbing doesn’t fall apart and tear open. A leader will double back that last stitch. We must create resiliency within a program so when the patch begins to tear, the whole parachute will not fall apart.

I challenge each of you to embrace your role as a leader this week. Make your repairs, create new ideas and improve existing plans. Begin to sew your way towards a strong and resilient future one stitch at a time.

Jay C Stalnacker

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Jay Stalnacker is a regular contributor to this blog. Adapted and reprinted with permission by Jay Stalnacker, FMO Boulder County Sheriff's Office, from his blog "The North Star Foundation." All expressions are those of the author.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Food for Thought - Balancing Risk


Leaders balance the risks against the potential gains of any decision and action. – Leading in the Wildland Fire Service, page 10
Leaders balance the risks against the potential gains of any decision and action. – Leading in the Wildland Fire Service, page 10
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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

2014 Lead by Example Award Deadline Approaching

Lead by Example Award promo

Time is running out to nominate an individual or group for the Paul Gleason Lead by Example award. The deadline is December 31, 2014.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Getting to Know You



"We're really good at talking about material things, but we're really bad at talking about emotions. We're really good at talking about skills and safety and health; we're really bad at talking about character. Alasdair MacIntyre, the famous philosopher, said that, 'We have the concepts of the ancient morality of virtue, honor, goodness, but we no longer have a system by which to connect them.'"
New York Times columnist David Brooks uses a bit of humor to talk about a topic many avoid--humans as social creatures who are guided by our emotions. Talking about human nature and emotion can be difficult if you are not willing to open your mind and to be a bit vulnerable in the process. Humans are social creatures and emotions play a big part in our decision-making processes. Have you taken the time to know yourself--really know yourself and how your emotions provide a framework for the decisions you make?

Video Highlights

You are challenged to watch Brook's TedTalk video "The Social Animal" in its entirety. Here are a few highlights:
  • "People learn from people they love."
  • "Emotions are at the center of our thinking."
  • "Reading and educating your emotions is one of the central activities of wisdom."
  • "We're social animals, not rational animals. We emerge out of relationships, and we are deeply interpenetrated, one with another."
Growth Tools
  • Mindsight - the ability to enter into other people's minds and learn what they have to offer.
  • Equal poise - the ability to have the serenity to read the biases and failures in your own mind.
  • Metis (street smarts) - The ability to pick out patterns in an environment.
  • Blending - ability to blend concepts together
  • Limerence - drive or motivation.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Food for Thought - The Task of a Leader


The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been. – Henry A. Kissinger

The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been. – Henry A. Kissinger
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Friday, November 14, 2014

Feed Your Eagle

Soaring eagle and howling wolf
(Photo credit: Thinkstock - eagle, Tom Brakefield; wolf, Jupiter Images)
The trials and tribulations we endure mold us into the leaders we will become. Retired General Charles Krulak, 31st Commandant of the Marien Corps, shares his stories in order for us to fully understand the importance of integrity, loyalty, and loyal dissent and his formation as a leader. (Krulak was a Lt. General at the time of this video.)






What does Lt. General Krulak's story have to do with wildland fire and leadership? It has everything to do with fire leaders.  We'll paraphrase his advice using excerpts from Leading in the Wildland Fire Service:

"Once we commit to becoming leaders, our focus is no longer ourselves. Fire leaders assume the serious responsibility of putting others into harm’s way and for making decisions that profoundly affect citizens, communities, and natural resources. (p. 6)

People matter. "The wildland fire service appraoch to taking care of people encompasses mind, body, and spirit. Because duty can take our people into dangerous situations, fire leaders reciprocate their loyalty by looking out for their safety and well-being in all circumstances." (p. 45)

"Wildland fire leaders demonstrate moral courage by adhering to high ethical standards and choosing the difficult right over the easy wrong. We avoid eithical dilemmas by directing team members to operate in ways that are consistent with our professional standards and by directing them only to actions they can achieve ethically." (p. 63)

"Leaders are responsible for the decisions they make and for the actions they take. This responsibility also means that fire leaders are accountable for their teams--for the decisions they make and the actions they take based on the leader's intent provided to them." (p. 62)

"To build the kind of healthy and resilient culture required in the wildland fire service, we lead up--holding our leaders accountable, providing unvarnished situation awareness in challenging situations, and offering unbiased and viable alternatives." (p. 48)

THE EAGLE AND THE WOLF

There is a great battle
that rages inside me.

One side is a soaring eagle
Everything the eagle stands for
is good and true and beautiful.

It soars above the clouds.
Even though it dips down into the valleys,
it lays its eggs on the mountain tops.

The other side of me is a howling wolf.
And that raging, howling wolf
represents the worst that is in me.

He eats upon my downfalls and
justifies himself by his presence
in the pack.

Who wins this great battle?...
The one I feed.

~ Author unknown~

Wildland Fire Leadership Challenge
  • Step up with courage and integrity to lead the fire service into the next generation. 
  • Are your motives pure?
  • "Tattoo" integrity across your soul.
  • Soaring eagle or howling wolf. Which will you feed?
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("Voices of Experience" is a more up-to-date, longer Krulak presentation with similar vignettes but is presented to an audience of business professionals.)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Food for Thought - Integrity & Trust

Integrity is the soul of leadership! Trust is the engine of leadership! – Amine A. Ayad
 Integrity is the soul of leadership! Trust is the engine of leadership! ~ Amine A. Ayad

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Food for Thought - Our Lasting Gratitude

"The willingness of America's veterans to sacrifice for our country has earned them our lasting gratitude." ~ Jeff Miller "The willingness of America's veterans to sacrifice for our country has earned them our lasting gratitude." ~ Jeff Miller
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Monday, November 10, 2014

Food for Thought - Peer Accountability

Peer accountability is an outgrowth of trust and commitment. ~ Leading in the Wildland Fire Service, page 54
Peer accountability is an outgrowth of trust and commitment. ~ Leading in the Wildland Fire Service, page 54
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We Are Wildland Fire - Honoring Our Veterans



"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." ~ John F. Kennedy

Friday, November 7, 2014

All I Had To Do Was Lead Them



"They won that war. All I had to do was lead them." 
Lt. Gen. Hal Moore, commander of the 7th Cavalry, set high standards and gave clear commander's intent to his people. He ensured his people were a well-trained, cohesive team. Take a moment to watch this short video as he talks about his service and the battle of Ia Drang during the Vietnam war.

Wildland Fire Leadership Challenge - Digging a Little Deeper
  • Professional Reading Program Challenge
    • Read Lt. Gen. Harold (Hal) G. Moore (Ret.) and Joseph L. Galloway's book We Were Soldiers Once...And Young.
We Were Soldies Once...And Young book cover
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Food for Thought - Continuous Learning

View life as a continuous learning experience. ~ Denis Waitley

View life as a continuous learning experience. ~ Denis Waitley

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Secrets from the Science of Persuasion




The art of influence is a key factor in leadership. This video shares the science behind the art of persuasion. By altering a few tactics, you may be able to better influence those around you. Reflect upon how you might use these tools to lead up and influence decision making as well as attracting followers.

  • Reciprocity: Obligation to give when you receive.
  • Scarcity: People want more of those things there are less of.
  • Authority: People follow the lead of credible, knowledgeable experts.
  • Consistency: People like to be consistent with the things they have previously said or done.
  • Liking: People prefer to say "yes" from people they like.
  • Consensus: People will look to the actions of others to determine their own.
Wildland Fire Leadership Challenge - Digging a Little Deeper





Monday, November 3, 2014

Food for Thought - Knowing Your People

Leaders learn about people as individuals, developing an understanding of what motivates them and how they derive satisfaction from their work. ~ Leading in the Wildland Fire Service, page 45
Leaders learn about people as individuals, developing an understanding of what motivates them and how they derive satisfaction from their work. ~ Leading in the Wildland Fire Service, page 45
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