Friday, February 20, 2015

Student of the Game

So, is it better to be a "Jack of all trades, master of none" or a "Jack of all trades, master of one" (quote often attributed to Benjamin Franklin)? 

I am one of those people who is good at a lot of things. Some might even say I am exceptional at some things. Maybe I am humble, but I do not consider myself a master at anything. For many years, I worked under the assumption that mastery was unnecessary. To be good at a lot of things showed talent and versatility. I was "well-rounded." Supervisors, co-workers, and peers seemed to like that about me.

Then I started seeing articles stressing the importance of mastery such as Malcom Gladwell's book Outliers and his10,000-Hour Rule where success is related to the number of hours you devote to a particular task/talent. There is no doubt that practice is vital to success. Being a student of the fire requires that we dig deep--that we go above and beyond the average in order to be prepared for whatever comes at us on the fireline.

There are pros and cons to either philosophy. What do you think?

Wildland Fire Leadership Challenge - Digging a Little Deeper
  • Watch and discuss Devin Williams' video "10,000 Hours - Student of the Game." 

  • What does it take to be a student of fire? What are the actions needed to be a successful fire leader?
  • What can students of fire do to prepare themselves as successful firefighters?
  • What is your worst-case scenario? What are you doing to prepare for the unexpected?
  • Read Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers, and let us know what you think.
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.

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