Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Keeping Your Tools Sharp

Heath Cota, former Sawtooth Interagency Hotshot Crew Superintendent, sent me the U.S. Forest Service video “An Ax to Grind.” The video featuring Bernie Weisberger showcases the safety, design, and care of your axe. My time is spent in an office environment and hanging or caring for an axe don’t fall within my job duties. However, I found great insight in the hour-long video. That insight became the impetus for this blog.

Hanging the Axe Head
You have to have a reliable handle.

Are you prepared to assume a leadership role? Every wildland firefighter should be willing and able to assume a leadership role in an emergency situation. Good followers, although not leaders by title, know they may need to embrace a bias for action should the situation dictate. We should make a commitment to accept the “call to duty” when needed. Our lives and the lives with which we serve may demand such duty.

Reshaping the Edge
“I’m not resharpening this, I’m bringing it back. I’m rehabbing this axe and then resharpening it. If you take care of your axe, you can touch it up in 15 minutes with a file and the stones. When you are starting over, it takes about an hour...”

By creating a routine that includes leadership development and discipline to follow the routine, you can keep your skills and tools sharp more easily than if you don’t. Unattended and ignored, you stifle growth in yourself and those that you lead. Take a short time each day to develop self, so you can develop others and lead by example.

Protect the Axe Head
“Don’t use a high speed grinder – leadership development is a life-long process.”

Leadership is action. Therefore, it has only a beginning and no end. Once you put your leadership development into motion, make a personal commitment to continue until you are physically unable to do so. Whether you are a leader of self or a leader of many, find ways to move yourself forward. Good leaders avoid the status quo and seek innovation and don’t fear change. Good leaders find ways to keep moving ahead and function within ever-changing environments.

“An axe, if it’s used properly, is a real safe tool. An axe, if you cut corners, it can be a real dangerous tool.” - Ian Barlow

Do your research. Find your passion and learn how to infuse that passion into your leadership style. Good leaders have purpose and look beyond self. Bad leaders use power to control and manipulate. Sometimes the line between the two begins to blur. Know yourself and seek improvement. Influence for the positive and make a difference in the world around you.

Wildland Fire Leadership Challenge
Wildland fire leaders have many tools in their toolbox. How many of you take the time to sharpen your tools? What are you doing to maintain sound leadership practices? What are you doing to develop self and keep your tools sharp?

Make time to review your self-development leadership practices and implement something new to your routine.

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.

No comments: