If we are fortunate, there are a few times in our lives where we get to feel completely that we are on the right path. That what we are doing is the right thing. And that we are where we need to be. I was entrusted to speak to the APCO Regional Conference this week on the topic of self-improvement and self-development and how those efforts can lead us to a better profession and better organizations. This is a topic I am quite passionate about, especially after my own experiences in the dark recesses of my own agency. Those times that I felt quite strongly the boot-heel on my throat and the tone was quite clearly-- "just do as you're told."
In the prep time before I left the hotel to teach the class and attend classes for that day I did something I don't think I have ever done before. I said a prayer. The Lord's Prayer first, then I asked quite clearly, that If there be a person in the room that needed it, I be given the grace and the power to impact that person in need in a positive way. I asked that I be used as a instrument to inspire and to motivate.
As I stood up to speak it was to that one person. I did not know who it would be. But something told me that he or she was there. It was one of the most passionate and easily flowing presentations I have ever given, almost possessed with a spirit that I had never felt before. The words came easily. I didn't bounce around too much and the information about how we can build better agencies by building better selves came with an eloquence I had never before quite possessed.
And sure enough-- after the presentation-- it happened. There were many who spoke very kind words and I welcomed them all. Even made a new BFF or two. But it was one veteran dispatcher-- almost with tears in her eyes that struck me. She held my hand and thanked me for helping restore her faith and passion. I almost cried myself. I knew in some way that she was the one I was presenting for. How odd how our lives are directed where they need to be.
But this is true both in terms of our power to help as well as our power to hurt. And the one we most often hurt is ourselves.
Many of my friends know of my OCD habits. (They are getting better, so I am told). Many of my friends also know of my "vulnerability" to slot machines. The casinos know this as well and My God are they good at manipulating it. That's how a voucher for $30 in free play and $30 in free food turns into me loosing far more than that in a couple of hours at a casino, when I should have been writing emails or articles on self-improvement. Or perhaps I should have been reading them. Well probably not. The bookshelves are full of those, and still I parked my car on the top level of the Great Cedar Garage convinced this would be the time I would win it all. I even was ahead-- for a bit. But all those big seven come out in Dante's playground-- why else do think Casinos have all you can eat buffets (gluttony); Prostitutes (Lust); Ringing bells (Temptation); and the rest. If you are going to go to one you might as well get the combo.
The revelation occurred not when I checked the bank balance this morning-- don't worry, this isn't a plea for donations-- but as I walked to the car. Maybe this was the lesson I needed, as much as that wonderful professional I helped inspire needed her own lesson. We all have lessons to learn, we all have work to do. We are all full of our own vices and fears and challenges and we all strive in our way (hopefully) to overcome them.
In the interest of helping me see my own issues more clearly and maybe helping you see yours more clearly I have shared this financially painful experience. largely because I know the answer is to not to hide our problems under our rocks; or in our closets. For way too many that is their solution for nearly every problem. We do it in our personal lives and our professional ones. But not matter what the context, the real solution is to bring them out into the light.
For whether our problem is a lack of passion about our profession; a lack of vision as a manger; or a lack of ability to control one's desires at a penny slot machine-- we all have work to do. And there are always people who can help us with that work. Maybe a stranger, maybe a speaker, maybe a friend. No matter who, that is our role to play. It is why we should always strive to be the blessing to all. You just never know who you may help save-- perhaps even yourself. And on those days where we run into the still darkened corners of ourselves-- may we all find the light to help acknowledge those cobwebbed spaces-- embrace them-- even love them for they are as much as part of us as any other. Then, and only then, will the light reach all the areas of our homes.
Ever notice how few windows there are in casinos?
And Now a Word From The Sponsor
Welcome to my site and thank you for reading. After many times thinking, if only I had a blog, well-- here we are. This blog will feature writings on a variety of topics from roadside food, to leadership in the fire service; politics; culture- gay, straight, and indifferent, my experiences in Ohio, New York and beyond; and much much more. It's my hope that you will find it interesting and that it stirs at least some thought and discussion. I am certain you wont always agree, but that is what its all about right? Oh and one more thing: The views expressed on this site are entirely my own. They do not reflect in anyway the views or positions of my employer.