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April 12, 2012 - Anything you want – you've got it. . .

Don’t you wish it were that simple? I’ve never been an adherent to the philosophy that if “you can see it, you can be it”, or similar tag lines, because it simply is not true in the vast majority of cases. The bottom line is that each of us has a finite scope to our life’s possibilities. Placing unrealistic dreams into the heads of young people does them a disservice. It wouldn’t have mattered how much I wanted to play in the NBA, for example, it wasn’t ever going to happen.

April 12, 2012
By Peter Sells

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April 12, 2012 – Don’t you wish it were that simple? I’ve never been an adherent to the philosophy that if “you can see it, you can be it”, or similar tag lines, because it simply is not true in the vast majority of cases. The bottom line is that each of us has a finite scope to our life’s possibilities. Placing unrealistic dreams into the heads of young people does them a disservice. It wouldn’t have mattered how much I wanted to play in the NBA, for example, it wasn’t ever going to happen. I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t reach for lofty goals, just that those goals should be realistic and attainable even if we have to challenge ourselves at the upper limits of our abilities. Part of “seeing it” goes beyond vision to climbing high enough and committing to working hard enough to bring the path to “being it” into sight.

A series of commercials has been airing lately, in which the main characters are bemoaning their financial situations until someone else pipes in with, “If you want to pay less tax, then pay less tax,” or “If you want to retire earlier, then retire earlier.” Then the information is presented about the investment plan or financial strategy in which the company wants to interest the viewer. The commercials have been successful in terms of getting the concept into my head at least – your destiny is your responsibility and within your control – but not successful enough for me to remember which institution is being advertised.

Here’s the point I take from the ads, and how it relates to a fire service career; if you have a well-defined career goal, then simply follow the path to that goal. If you want to be a company officer, then become a company officer. If you want to be an instructor, then become an instructor. Each of those goals requires years of dedicated study, hard work, and in some cases, patience – but they are each attainable. If you want to be a fire chief, then become a fire chief. Don’t expect that you will get there simply by coming to work every day for 25 or 30 years; grab every opportunity to advance your skills. Learn everything you can about fire suppression, EMS, fire prevention, building construction, administrative processes, employment law, municipal finance, records management, facilities management, project management, information technology, hazardous materials, technical rescue. . . simple, right?

Do you know anyone, maybe a childhood friend or high school classmate, who achieved greatness in his or her field? My mother always talks about the paperboy who delivered to our house more than 45 years ago, a skinny kid who never seemed to have a warm jacket. Dr. Philip Currie has had a long and successful career as a world-renowned dinosaur expert at the University of Alberta, and reportedly was one of the models for palaeontologist Alan Grant in the film Jurassic Park. I played cards at lunchtime in the cafeteria with the nicest, most clean-cut, straight-laced kid in my school; Colonel Chris Hadfield has had a stellar career with the Canadian Space Agency, having been in space twice, serving as Capsule Communicator (CAPCOM) twice in NASA’s Mission Control Centre, and is currently training for his role as commander of an upcoming International Space Station mission.

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Currie and Hadfield each envisioned their dreams and took the necessary steps from an early age to make their dreams attainable. If you want to be a fire chief, then become a fire chief. Your destiny is within your control.


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