Your Choice, Your Career

by Dr. Tim McGrath & Dr. Victoria McGrath

It's an exciting concept, send the firefighters/paramedics out to do a few simple training evolutions with the fire apparatus, but instead of training behind the station go into a subdivision in the community and drill in the streets. In fact, go out several days earlier and distribute flyers notifying the residents that you will be there to demonstrate your skills and show the ambulance and fire trucks. By the way, bring along your most important valuable possession - your attitude. If your attitude is positive the community interaction will be very rewarding - not to mention an excellent opportunity for recruitment. If your attitude is negative, your community experiences will be more than dreadful, it will be damaging to you and most damaging to your department.

Your attitude is contagious and you can't hide it, or from it, no matter how hard you might try. When you choose to dwell on positive matters positive things seem to happen. When you choose to be unhappy you will easily find many things to keep you unhappy. I firmly believe that success is 80% attitude and 20% aptitude and the successful leaders we have had the opportunity to work with have proven it correct.

Your mind is constantly processing images it receives. Since birth your mind has received these images and processed them to form your personality. The great news is that the images don't have to be accurate or even real in order for you to believe them, and thus act or feel a certain way. If you tell yourself positive things you will most likely be able to achieve them. Case in point. I recall a paid-on-call firefighter who was about to take his oral exam for a career position. A portion of the group practicing in preparation for this interview, with whom we were working, were asked to rank themselves against the other candidates and predict where they would finish in the oral exam process. One individual stated, after little thought, that he would finish last because" "I'm just not good at oral interviews." Now where do you suppose he would finish in the testing process? Rarely ever do we exceed our mental expectations of ourselves and never on a consistent basis. By having the individual stand in front of the mirror every morning and evening and tell himself "I'm going to do well on my oral interview because I'm good at presenting my positive traits" he improved. At first he thought it was stupid; as some of you might, but as time went on we could see his confidence grow. His mind sent signals telling him he was good at oral interviewing - so he was. As he put it: "I don't know what happened "I just didn't have any problems during the interview, it went well." In fact, it went very well, he finished second out of the entire interview group.

Positive attitudes trigger enthusiasm within you and also those around you. Negative attitudes, like a cancer, will slowly and deliberately set about destroying you as well as the work enivornment. It is impossible to remain neutral with your attitude. Perhaps the most complex concept for me to understand is why an intelligent individual would allow anyone the right to control their attitude. The only person who can make you happy or sad is you. You can choose your attitude towards any situation or event regardless of what those around you might say or do. After all a winner is nothing more than a loser who has gotten up one more time than they were knocked down.

I recall overhearing a firefighter who after a difficult fire, where there was more work to do than personnel available, even with mutual aid companies were exhausted with hours of work lying ahead, tell his fellow workers "I just love this job." No! He didn't see me and he wasn't being sarcastic, he meant it. His career, oddly enough, was going extremely well although another individual with more technical skills career wasn't as successful. The reason was simple and demonstrated by his attitude towards his job, fellow workers, family, and life in general. Our advice is play with the winners - find the positive attitudes and stick around them it will rub off. Insulate yourself form those who seem to find it necessary to find something wrong with everything. Give your positive attitude away whenever you can, oddly enough the more you try to give it to others the more it will come back to you. Next time you fell stressed, stop, look around deliberately for what's right. When you start looking for what's right instead of what wrong things will improve. "Attitudes are caught not taught".