Do you remember the moment when you realized you had something worth sharing with others and made the decision to lead? I call these "leadership awakenings." They are the moments when followers decide to become leaders and focus moves from self to others.
I'm not sure I can pinpoint my exact leadership awakening moment, but I do know my desire occurred very early in life—some might say I was a natural or a born leader. My leadership journey began as a Brownie in my small church's Girl Scout program. Even at the age of 8 or 9, I believed in working together, exploring my community, participating in meetings, and moving out into the community and wider world.
|(Where it all began...)|
When I became a junior/senior high school teacher, I began doing what the individuals who led and mentored me did—I began leaving my “fingerprints” on others. I became a class advisor, student council advisor, and established a local chapter of Business Professionals of America for my students. I mentored many students who are now paying it forward and leaving their “fingerprints” on society.
My seasonal fire career began as a timekeeper in 1984. Over 15 years, I worked up to an assistant center manager teaching others the "fine art" of dispatching. In 2000, I took a permanent position with the BLM at NIFC. Today, I am a writer/editor for the BLM Fire Training and Workforce Development Program. My passion lies with the work I do with the Wildland Fire Leadership Development Program (WFLDP). For the last 12 years, I've left my "fingerprints" on more people than I can imagine through the WFLDP blog and Facebook page or the programs and initiatives I've started or administered, including Leadership in Cinema, the annual leadership campaign, and the Professional Reading Program.
I don't share these these things to "toot my own horn," but to give you a sense of who I am and the leadership journey I have traveled and continue to travel as one of those entrusted to maintain the WFLDP. I challenge other wildland fire leaders to do the same. I felt it was time for my readers to know who "puts herself out there" on the blog and the Facebook page.
Each time I've made the decision to lead, I've also made a commitment to develop other leaders. My hope is that my example and passion inspires others to join the grassroots effort to IGNITE the Spark for Leadership.
Wildland Fire Leadership Challenge
Over that last couple of months, I have sat down with a few wildland fire leaders who shared their leadership awakening moments. Here is what I concluded after they shared their emotional stories:
- They didn't necessarily want to tell their story, but they did.
- They were profoundly affected when they realized they had something to share.
- They are passionate about leadership.
- They care about those they lead.
- They want to make a difference.
About the Author:
Pam McDonald is a writer/editor for BLM Wildland Fire Training and Workforce Development and member of the NWCG Leadership Subcommittee. The expressions are those of the author.