Technology has a huge affect on the way we learn, earn, live, and play. Few can deny that technology is a vital part of our lives. Some might even go as far as to say that technology has destroyed our lives. These thoughts are said by every generation. Regardless of your opinion, technological advancements happen and will continue to do so. The real questions are whether or not you are aware of the changes that affect your way of learning, earning, living, and playing and how you deal with those changes.
Futurists and thinkers make it their job to analyze trends and potential impacts of change. As leaders within the wildland fire community, you are the influencers of tomorrow's leaders and the environment in which they grow and develop. You will prepare the path for those that come after you. Do you have your head up? Are you looking ahead with discernment of our past? Are you ready for the changes that lie in front of us?
I recall attending a technology conference for educators in the late '90s. Futurists at that conference were talking about the changes coming to education. Over the last two decades, I have watched many of those predictions come true (some are taking longer to come about but are still coming). The way we learn, earn, live, and play is changing whether we like it or not. Change is hard, but inevitable. How we deal with change is within our control, however.
In the talk linked below, Thomas Friedman talks about changes that have happened, are happening, and yet to come. He shares a similar message I heard during the technology conference many years ago. Technology would affect my job in big ways. Tuition-free learning institutions are available on the Internet, so the classroom teacher's job is at risk. However, a teacher's function is very much alive. They are and will be needed to facilitate learning.
The same can be said about wildland firefighting. Technology and the state of the environment we work in is changing the way we engage. We can oppose new technology because it threatens our livelihood, or we can recognize change is inevitable and learn to earn differently while still being a wildland firefighter. We will always have a job; however, it might look different that it did in years past. If we rest on our laurels, technology may leave you behind. If you view yourself as a work in progress, you can adapt to the challenges that technology put in front of you.
Wildland Fire Leadership Challenge - Digging a Little Deeper
Read "Eyes Forward" in Leading in the Wildland Fire Service, p. 67. What will your legacy be?
Leaders in the wildland fire service chose to reach beyond the challenges of learning the craft of firefighting by stepping forward to lead people in complex and dangerous environments. Fire leaders trade the indulgences of complacency, second-guessing, and fault-finding for the responsibilities of bringing order out of chaos, improving our people, and building our organizations.
As our careers progress, some move from being a leader of people to being a leader of leaders to being a leader of an organization. At each level, we rise to meet the challenges of adhering to our values of duty, respect, and integrity and assume the responsibility of instilling those values in others.
A leader’s accomplishments are measured in lifetimes. Our character, decisions, and actions create powerful ripple effects that continue to influence people and organizations long after we are gone.
This is the legacy that each generation passes on and entrusts to our successors.
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.