Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Mental Health and Being a Hotshot

(Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay)

This is a sobering, vulnerable farewell letter from El Dorado IHC Superintendent Aaron Humphries. Aaron gave us permission to share his letter with our followers. We thank "Hump" for 20 years of dedicated service and wish him and his family well on next steps.

Please read his letter and share it throughout your spheres of influence as you see fit. This is the sobering truth of what is happening to members across the service. Aaron is one of many people exiting the wildland fire service. As a wildland fire service, we need to be better to ourselves and those we lead. Self-care should be paramount. Families should matter. Mental health must be addressed.

Monday, March 30, 2020

IGNITE: Beliefs Shape Presence

helicopter water drop

Your beliefs shape every aspect of your presence, from body language to the actions you choose to undertake. ♦ Kristi Hedges, The Power of Presence ♦
[Photo: Tallac IHC]

#fireleadership #2020WFLDPCampaign #commandpresence

Friday, March 27, 2020

Challenge #11: 2020 WFLDP Campaign

2020 WFLDP Campaign logo and challenge

Challenge 11:  Self-awareness is a critical and powerful first step in developing command presence.
  • Take the time to determine what you want your presence to convey.
  • Use your journal as a place to capture your thoughts. 
(Adapted from The Power of Presence by Kristi Hedges)

#2020WFLDPCampaign #commandpresence #fireleadership

Thursday, March 26, 2020


wildland fire with firefighter silouhette
“Give yourself permission to be more of yourself, rather than less.” ♦ Kristi Hedges, The Power of Presence ♦

[Photo: Kyle Miller/Wyoming IHC]

#fireleadership #commandpresence #2020WFLDPCampaign

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Caught In the Middle

Have you had moments during your social isolation where you have experienced a tinge of anxiety that you just can't get rid of? Something just doesn't add up. You are getting mixed messages from health care professionals and political leaders regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. You are trying to respond with social responsibility but mixed messages have you confused and caught in the middle of a sensemaking conundrum.

Monday, March 23, 2020

IGNITE: The Power of Personal Initiative

wildland firefighter in front of fire
On a chaotic and rapidly developing wildfire, one person taking the initiative can make all the difference in seizing and taking advantage of an opportunity. ♦ Leading in the Wildland Fire Service, p. 27 ♦
[Photo: Kyle Miller/Wyoming IHC]


Friday, March 20, 2020

Challenge #10 - WFLDP Campaign

Challenge 10:
Leaders with effective command presence are prepared and stay calm during chaos.
  • Ensure each team member’s contact information is up to date and readily available.
  • Conduct a pre-mortem drill to ensure notification processes work quickly and efficiently.
#2020WFLDPCampaign #commandpresence #fireleadership

Thursday, March 19, 2020

IGNITE: Seeds of Confidence

forest fire
“No one has absolute confidence. You just need to find a seed of confidence to create an environment where your full confidence can grow. ” ♦ Kristi Hedges, The Power of Presence ♦
[Photo: Kristi Hedges]

#fireleadership #commandpresence #2020WFLDPCampaign

Monday, March 16, 2020

IGNITE: Inspired by Command Presence

sun shining through smoke and a tree

When we meet someone with strong presence, we can feel it. And if the person is a leader, we are inspired by it. ♦ Kristi Hedges, “The Power of Presence” ♦

[Photo: Kari Greer/USFS]

#fireleadership #commandpresence #2020WFLDPCampaign

Friday, March 13, 2020

Challenge #9 - 2020 WFLDP Campaign

2020 WFLDP logo and challenge

Challenge 9:
Appearance affects command presence to a degree.
#2020WFLDPCampaign #fireleadership #commandpresence

Thursday, March 12, 2020

A Fine Line Between Preparation and Paranoia

(Photo: Pam McDonald)
I come from a long line of tough individuals. My mother's family goes back to early Colonial America and westward expansion pioneers. I didn't know a lot of my family history until I dove into my genealogy. Along my quest, I have learned a great deal about who I am and why I do the things I do—why I have a knack for resourcefulness, preparation and calmness in the face of fear.

IGNITE: Moving Beyond Survive

forest fire

“Command presence builds the quality that allows you to move beyond survive—to thrive, even gain strength, from hardship and power from adversity.” ♦ Mike Alexander, 37-yr police officer veteran ♦
[Photo: Mesa IHC]

#fireleadership #commandpresence #2020WFLDPCampaign

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

"Facing the Enemies Within"

(Photo by Gellinger on Pixabay)
Wildland fire operations have inherent risks that cannot be eliminated, even in the best of circumstances. Incident management and response is a competition between human beings and the forces of nature; leaders struggle to manage the effects caused by wildfire and other natural and man-made events. The environment can rapidly and unexpectedly change from normal to emergency conditions to complete chaos. (Leading in the Wildland Fire Service, p. 10)
The above statement reflects what every wildland firefighter knows about the inherent risks of the job. It is during these moments of chaos that leaders are tested. Do those leaders have the courage and command presence to calm the fears of those they lead or do they contribute to the fear? Do they know who they are in the face of chaos?

Monday, March 9, 2020

Challenge #8 - 2020 WFLDP Campaign

2020 WFLDP logo and challenge

Challenge 8: 

Command presence is deeper than charisma.
  • Watch James Scouller speak on the topic @ https://youtu.be/hI9A9x_Il9c.
  • Take notes in your journal.

IGNITE: Decisiveness and Toughness

While decisiveness and toughness in a leader signal conviction, courage, and resolve, when untampered by empathy or compassion these same characteristics come off as egotism, arrogance, and insensitivity. ♦ Sylvia Ann Hewlett, Executive Presence ♦

[Photo: Kari Greer/USFS]

#fireleadership #empathy #compassion 

Thursday, March 5, 2020

IGNITE: Show Them You Care

Firefighters chatting

“Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” 
♦ Theodore Roosevelt ♦

[Photo: San Juan IHC]

#fireleadership #care

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Command Presence - Beyond the Physical Attributes

eye with cracked areas around it
(Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay)
I am a fan of the '60s television series Green Acres. In the episode "The Ballad of Molly Turgiss," Oliver and Lisa Douglas learn about the curse of Molly Turgiss—a woman the town labeled "ugly" who vowed in her death to haunt anyone who spoke her name.  She let her presence be known in a very tangible way, such as throwing things and stealing vehicles.

So, why did I choose this episode to blog about? I am not condoning the actions of those who judge anyone for their looks, but I am not naive enough to believe that looks don't matter. In fact, someone recently commented on a Facebook question about height being an issue they say affects their command presence. But the outward appearance of a leader only goes "skin deep."  When we talk about the look of a leader, we need to go deeper than the physical attributes.

Monday, March 2, 2020

IGNITE: Living Our Values

hotshot crew ascending a hill
Values aren’t something you declare; they’re something you live. ♦ Piyush Patel, author of Lead Your Tribe, Love Your Work ♦
[Photo: Union IHC]

#fireleadership #values