Female Firefighter ~ The Pioneering Spirit

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By

W. Michael Phibbs

Over the years I have spoken at a number of leadership conferences aimed at emergency services organizations and personnel on branding themselves. It has led to a number of interesting conversations about women in the different branches. The subject of female fire fighters is at the top of my mind at the moment as we reflect on the loss, the suicide, of a female firefighter in VA, as allegations of cyber bullying are surfacing. I have heard countless stories of how both volunteer and career fire fighters, who happen to be female, have been treated, including being faced with the antiquated notion that the women were only there to cook and clean the fire house. However, in my experience, the majority of firefighters, male and female, are exemplary and act professionally around their coworkers.

While women have faced and risen to the challenge of entering the law enforcement field, joining the ranks of fire fighters has been a slower process. Women who have joined the fraternity of police officers worked long and hard to reach the same job responsibilities as their male counterparts. They have paved the way for more women to follow in their footsteps. A number of very capable women now do the same as fire fighters and I have had the pleasure of meeting a number of these pioneers.

In today’s society, we are hyper vigilant, or perhaps hyper sensitive, creating an environment where a single misspoken word or action can destroy a brand that an organization or a person is trying to build or maintain. We have been going through a period of demographic change, starting with Civil Rights in the 60’s through today with efforts to give everyone an equal chance. This means that the volunteers and career officers can be held liable for their liable under Title 7 Discrimination lawsuits or department code of conduct violations. If terminated after a substantiated charge of discrimination they will unlikely find further employment or volunteer opportunities in the field. Public safety organizations are not striving be more inclusive and better represent the demographics of society. This will have significant impact on any agency which is almost entirely comprised of males. A challenge will be how to effectively prevent discrimination need to be discovered and implemented. You can’t find always find simple answers to complex problems; and this one is complex.

Law enforcement faced the challenge of integrating females into the profession many years ago, and in cases continues to struggle with the issue. Female law enforcement officers have the same job responsibilities as their male counterparts, but in many cases, they have had to work harder to blaze a trail for others to follow. Similarly, I have met many Female Fire Officers with outstanding reputations as leaders in their organizations. These women are the new pioneers of today, making the way better for those who will follow.

Firefighting isn’t easy and as such, the training isn’t easy either. Going into a burning building wearing heavy gear or administering medical treatment on a severely injured person is not for the faint of heart. After rigorous and extensive training and testing, when all of the tests are passed, the trainee becomes a “Firefighter”; they are not segregated by race or gender, they are all firefighters. After graduation, the new firefighters get assigned to a station, whereby livings in a station, for 24 hours at stretch, “rookies” integrate into the team. It is the duty of Fire Officer to help new firefighters assimilate.

Unlike law enforcement where officers can avoid officers they don’t like, firefighters are a team and must work together.   Fire Officers must ensure their subordinates effectively communicate and cannot allow a simple misunderstanding fester into resentment. Supervisors are held to a higher level of responsibility from organizations and courts. But that comes with the position. Supervisors have a duty to their community, male and female officers, to take swift action to stop what may be construed as discriminatory, harassment, or a hostile work environment. While in quarters Firefighters from time to time they will joke around. But then the question is raised: At what point does a joke or comment cross the line from being funny to harassment? The question is complex, but training and reinforcement on ways to handle workplace issues harassment and discrimination and provide guidance.

It can be tough to stand up to subordinates, who may spend more time together than with their own families. Their job is to lead not just by example, but also by the actions they condone. Leaders who allow problems to fester are in charge of a gaggle, not a team. Lives can be lost when a group intentionally leaves someone out instead of being a team. When effective communication, individual skill development, and team building training are conducted, differences diminish and the entire organization is lifted.

As society and the demographics of the workforce change, more women will enter the fire profession. The days of the male only profession are slowly dwindling. All public safety agencies must recruit and hire a more diverse workforce and we all feel the growing pains. The women who work in the profession today are true pioneers with the grit of the women who walked across the Great Plains in the 19th century. There are creating the path for the future and have earned the right to be called “Professional Firefighter”

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Female Firefighters: Demonstrate True Pioneer Spirit

I recently met with a fire chief in the area. During the meeting the topic of females in the fire profession came up. For many organizations, there are only a handful of female firefighters at most. Imagine being the female who goes to work every day knowing she is entering a male dominated profession.

Law enforcement faced the challenge of integrating females into the profession many years ago, and in some cases still struggle with the issue. These female firefighters are the new pioneers of today. They have the same job responsibilities of their male counterparts, but have to work harder to trail blazed the path for those females to follow. In many older stations, the buildings were not constructed with separate bathrooms or bunk spaces for men and woman. Besides the issues of building construction, they must still live and work within the male dominated fire culture. At what point is a joke or comment cross the line from being funny to harassment? How does a female stand up for herself as a person without being labeled a derogatory comment? These issues and many more will eventually be worked out. As society, and demographics of the workforce, changes more woman will enter the fire profession. The woman who work in the profession today are true pioneers with the grit of the woman who walked across the great plains in the 19th century. There are creating the path for the future and have earned the right to be called “Professional Firefighter.”

Leaders in 2013 Must Learn and Embrace Diverse Cultures to be Effective

Leaders in 2013 face new challenges as work force demographics change and employees with different cultural histories begin to come into the workforce. I talk to managers and supervisors notice I did not say leaders, who say “foreigners” need to learn English, or why should I learn about their culture, they should learn to be American. This is a very short sighted view. First, America was founded by people from somewhere else. Even the original Indian inhabitants came from someplace else. As a country we became diverse because people did not completely give up on their old traditions and cultures just to become an American. You do not, and cannot, wipe your memories away when you become an American.

The effective leaders understand and embrace having a diverse group of people working for them. They inherently understand diversity reduces the chance of “group think”. They also understand that their success is based on the actions of the individual employee. The employee’s actions are based on how they interpret the directions of the leader. Their interpretations are based through the context of past cultural experiences. Therefore, to be effective, the leader needs to understand the cultural history and context which develop the individual expectations of their employees. Then the leader can tailor their message to the individual employee. The overall message remains the same, but the individual meaning is shaped through the cultural lens.

It may sound like a lot of needless work, but it isn’t. By learning a basic level of the cultures of your employees the leader actually builds a greater credibility with the employee. The leader learns something’s that they may not have known, but more importantly, they have a new tool to put in their tool box. Leaders who not only develop their employees but also develop a cultural awareness of their employees become a “hot commodity” for their organization. Opportunities to grow, both inside and outside of their company, will most assuredly follow. So, from even an individualistic point of view, learning the cultural histories of your employees and how to lead them creates greater opportunities for you

Incident Management Team Success is through initial conversations on incidents.

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I joing an All Hazards Type 3 Incident Management Team and finally finished of my Operations Section Chief task book. The All Hazards Teams are extremely important in times of emergency. These teams go into towns such as Oklahoma City,or Long Island, and develop the plan to help them recover from devestation. The article is about lessons learned on a recent deployment.

Confidence in an Incident Management Team by the workers in the field is critical to success and constant changing of plans and tactics may lead to the questioning your IMT’s ability to manage the incident. It is critically important when your IMT responds to assist another IMT that you spend some time with the team already in place and develop your situational awareness. Once the other IMT leaves it is too late to ask questions. Your IMT may end up playing catch-up and spend considerable time trying to get up to speed.

Before you arrive, have a list of questions that you need answered which may not be covered on the ICS 209. During your in-briefing ask specific questions which may allow you go garner insights into how the incident unfolded, why it was being managed the way it was before your team arrived, and the unexpected challenges their IMT faced during their operational periods. The current IMT may have initially started their operational period with a set of tactics and as often the case, had to make changes and thus creating a hybrid plan. The IMT may have changed their plans on paper, but making the changes in field may take longer and the workers may be still transitioning from the original tactics to the hybrid plan.

During your initial briefings you receive the broad scope picture. Use the shadowing time to garner as much information as you can from the person you are replacing. During the one-on-one time you can find the little unexpected nuances that arose and influenced how they performed during their operational period. You should find out how they initially anticipated managing the incident, what went right, what went wrong, and why. The answers to these questions can help your IMT’s success. Failure to ask the questions can hamper effective transitions from team to team. By anticipating the challenges at an incident and developing your own set of questions your team can make the best use of the limited time with the out-going IMT. The key to your team’s success is the initial conversations that help your team create an in-depth situation awareness of the incident you are taking over.

Two rules that must be followed before being promoted.

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The hardest day a leader, manager, or supervisor will ever have is the first day in their new position. On the first day, the supervisor comes in with grandiose ideas how they will be the “leader” and transformer of individuals in the group into a “team” that beats all existing records. They will develop a spirit of collaboration and camaraderie that everyone in the organization will want to join. Other leaders with lesser ability will clamor to your office to know the secrets of ultimate team building and success. For most this is a dream. Unbeknownst to most new supervisors, the stage has already been set for failure because they did not do two critical steps to lay the foundation for their success.

Let’s start at the bottom and work our way up to fix the problems. The foundation for success begins when the supervisor does some introspection and determines what is truly important to them as a person. This is extremely difficult for most people, because they are afraid of what they will find when they examine their inner self. For example, you may realize you are truly not a “people person”. You can decide to work on that skill, or develop other approaches to make effective connections to the individuals who now work for you. But you learned a critical lesson about yourself and can now work around the problem to make connections. Effective leaders make connections to their teams on the one to one level. They are authentic about themselves and what they want to accomplish. Supervisors create goals that they believe should be reached, but never make the deep down connections at the individual level.

If you inherent an effective team, or group in need of development, you are starting from scratch. The existing effective team may instantly dissolve when you arrive. Again, you must make the connection at the individual level that you are someone to willingly follow. People will do what you tell them to do because you are their boss. The supervisor who uses this hard power is “pulling” the people to his or her goals. You have the power to reward or discipline them. People will go the extra mile for people they believe will help them, and are looking out for them. These people are “following” their leader to a goal that benefits everyone. Teams are effective, when the team is focused on a goal, and striving to reach it. If you are a bad supervisor your individuals may form up as a “team” to get rid of you. When you are a “leader” and people follow you, and your goals are aligned with the organizations goals, then as a team, you are benefitting the organization.

The second myth and mistake new supervisor make when they are first promotes is not coming in with a set of rules everyone must follow. That sounds counter intuitive to come in with a set of rules when you want to develop a team. Think about the statement in a different way. When you come in with a set of rules for people to follow you are setting the table of expectations. You are setting the stage for success by letting people know not only the sport you are playing, but the field you are playing on, and rules that must be followed. By developing a set of rules and setting down what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior you are creating the foundation for success. When you come in trying to build camaraderie and say, “we will make it up as we go” you have just made a fatal mistake for you becoming a leader. As situations arise you have not set foundation for your decision making. Your individual’s, notice I did not say team, will be always be wondering what is and is not acceptable. They will push the limits because they do not know what the boundaries are. You will become angry because the individuals are breaking your nonexistent rules. By trying to be friendly and not setting down rules you are in fact going to make it hard to create a team. In fact you will create a dysfunctional atmosphere because your individuals do not know what to expect from you, the supervisor. By first setting your rules down, and consistently following them, you can then develop a sense of acceptable behavior with consequences for rule breaking. Then, you can start developing team norms that are developed and agreed upon by your team.

The first day as a supervisor is always the hardest. The dream of the position now meets reality. By understanding two simple rules you can significantly improve your chances of success. First, determine what is important to you. Second, setting rules and standards for people to follow, you are now setting the foundation for success and building a highly effective team.

Riding The Roller Coaster Of Business Change

 

 

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While recently attending a conference at the Washington D.C. Head Quarts of SHRM, I saw an interesting curve that is used to implement change. The instructor was 100% accurate that implementing change means ending something. Then people enter an area called the “neutral zone” and finally with success a new beginning.

 Well, another way to look at it is from the perspective of a rider on a roller coaster. Some roller coasters are tall and long and others are short and quick; however, all of them have the same physical mechanisms in common from start to end. Now, let’s entwine business change into the picture. Initially, the management team determines there is a business case for change. It may be caused by unexpected changes in the environment, where you change or face major financial problems. The needs assessment is where you begin your case for change and your organization, and employees, enter the queue for the roller coaster ride.  While going through the queue your organizations leadership should begin to meet with key stake holders and employees to set out the business case for change. Why is this necessary? Why deviate from the normal base line?
 A leadership team creates a story line that sets out the realities of the situation, what it will take to change, and how the organization will look like when it is all over. They create an image that sticks showing what success will look like. They inspire and make people believe the change is necessary and they will get through it as a team; they help create the small and fast roller coaster ride. Management teams set out as a matter of fact the need for change. They show the facts and people will see the need to change. Management teams explain the process of change in systematic ways so people know what to expect. The management teams roller coasters are higher, longer, and create more fear because the inclusive story is not there. The hero’s story, the saving of a company, or taking it to the next level, for people to cheer and believe in is not present.

During the queue, the better the business case is laid the better chance for acceptance and success. Once the case had been made, and change is about to begin, everyone sits in their seats, buckles up, and gets ready for the ride. Everyone will have some level of trepidation and beginning the journey. The end is at hand and a new beginning is starting. As the train leaves the station, there are fewer and fewer chances to stop. As the train goes higher on the lift, the processes of change begin to pick up. The senior staff has to continue to sell the ideas, reassure the weak hearted, and increase the on-board of employees to the changes occurring around them.

 At the top of the lift there is no turning back. This is the part of most danger. How far the train goes down, or if it will come back up, is in direct relation to your thinking out the need for change, the process, and keeping people on-board. While riding down the lift many things will happen. Everyone will feel a high level of emotions. Some will feel terrified and stuck motionless in their seats. Others will feel exhilaration and throw their hands in the air. Others will simply look down and hold on for the ride. Going down, organizational structures are moved around, some may be sold off. People may be transferred, have new bosses, or jobs changed in mid stream. As things continue to change, people will wonder if things will ever get better; when will it start going back up? Your preparation was the key for people to see when they reach the bottom of the hill.  Once at the bottom of the hill, no roller coaster immediately goes back up. It will stay there short period burning off kinetic energy. This burning of energy slowly allows the organization to finish putting everything back into place. Emotional states of employees begin to subside. New business units begin to solidify. How long you spend at this level is also in direct correlation to your business change preparation before entering the queue.
 As solidification occurs in subset business units, the upward pull of potential energy starts to kick in. Even though the overall speeds are slowing, as must happen through the laws of physics, the change of potential energy back to change energy (kinetic) throws everyone back into their seats. The business is taking back off and headed skyward. As more systems start to work the higher the organization will go; however, it will never go as high as the initial power of ending the previous systems and preparing for change needed to impact the organization. As everything begins to fully function it will slowly even out and people will become accustomed to the new organizational model. Through the changes a new normal base line had been established over the old base line.

Changing an organization is like riding a roller coaster. The more compelling the need for change, preparation for change, and knowing what the end results will look like. Go a long way to making the roller coaster ride short and enjoyable rather than long and terrifying.

Collaboration over compromise for effective team building.

In today’s use of slang and interchangeability of common words we often lose the meaning and point in everyday conversations. How often to do hear a version of, “You need to compromise”, when trying to get your point across, or trying to get someone to give in and change their point of view? Similarly, how often do you hear someone saying they are collaborating with their team mates, only to find out later that one person is driving a project to fit the their image of an end product? In general, we have lost the understanding of the words compromise and collaboration and the impacts they have on positive team development.

When two or more people meet and have valid,  and often opposing,  ideas on a particular subject they will say the other person needs to “compromise”, meaning  I am right and you need to give into my point of view. In the world of compromise, someone wins and someone loses: win-lose dynamics.  One person must give up something they value and invariably walks away hurt. From the individual perspective, the person will rarely forget that they caved on an idea they believed in. From the group perspective, compromise builds a pecking order. Who lost the most? Who won the most? The person who wins overall must still incorporate a few ideas from the other group members into the final creation of an end product; even their overall vision is compromised. From an end product perspective, it usually turns out badly. In most cases, no one is happy with the overall product and resentment is created. Eventually, the person who lost today will have their revenge leaving a tit-for-tat wake where victories and losses are more important than team success. The team dynamic is fractured and trust destroyed. Effective teams know there is a better way: collaboration.

There is an art to collaboration. From the outset, it is accepted that everyone in the group has value. Their ideas and views are valid from the individual perspective. So what do you do? You use the energy as a catalyst for something better than you could as compromisers. First, create a shared vision of what the team is trying to accomplish, what the end product looks like. The team now has a focal point for with to engage. From the overall vision, you can start to build the framework through shared ideas. As the group moves forward, an overall mental consensus develops through the collaboration. With a shared vision one person cannot dominate the group.  You derail power grabber’s right from the start. People continue to develop ideas which get vetted through the collaborative process and ideas that once would demand “compromise” are dropped because they do not match the shared mental model. In the end, using collaboration in groups leads to win-win group dynamics.

It is worth the time and effort to access how your team functions. Demanding someone compromise and bend to another person’s point of view is a recipe for failure. Someone wins, and someone loses. Hard feelings are harbored and revenge will eventually come. The art of collaboration is the bond that builds successful teams, through shared mental images of success.  For a team to be effective, efficient and successful in this fast paced business environment it is imperative that an atmosphere of “collaboration”, over “compromise” permeates your organizations culture.

Five Critical Skills A Manager Must Master To Effectively Communicate

You can go to any book store and find a plethora of books on the “latest and greatest” perspective on to effectively communicate with individuals, teams, and entire organizations. When you sort through all of them you will find five common benchmarks to have a successful conversation.

Know Your Message: How many times have you had a conversation with a manager and later walked away more confused than you were before the meeting? In many cases, the manager knows the problem, but does not develop a game plan to make sure her or she covers the important items. How often do you jump into a crucial conversation without first making a plan presenting you how and where the conversation will go? It is important when you need to share important information that you first make a game plan. Write down what you need to cover. Make a check off sheet if necessary, but ensure all important items are included. This is especially important if the other person in the discussion is good at distraction and redirection when bad news is coming. A game plan helps you focus and ensure at the end of the conversation everything that must be said has been said.

The Right Time: How often do managers interrupt someone in the middle of an important project, or task, to throw a lot of information at the person on another unrelated subject The target person is now distracted, loses track, and nothing gets completed. Many managers say, “Well, it was important, and I needed to tell them the information right then.” Unless it was a life or death situation then it could wait. Many managers say it was incredibly important just so they can check off their in-box saying the relayed the information. Well, that’s not a conversation, it’s a cop out. If it is an important conversation then it should be given the proper weight. Waite and have the conversation at the right time, right place and one-on-one. Both you and the person deserve to have an undistracted conversation. Go to an office and lock the door if necessary to ensure privacy. DO NOT HAVE CRUCIAL CONVERSATIONS IN FRONT OF OTHER COWORKERS.

Know How to Talk: Communication is a two way street. Many managers believe effective communication is telling the other person what they are doing wrong. Then they are shocked when the other person says, “Well, let me tell you about your miserable performance as a manger.” Sometimes the manager believes yelling is a better way to get his or her point across. If you believe this is the correct style of management I have three words for you: Hostile Work Environment. Your lawyer will clue you in after the paperwork is served, by your humble public servant, requesting your appearance in court, along with your checkbook. A crucial conversation should be as calm as possible. Make your point in a professional manner and move on to the next one. Being a bully does not win you points, it only makes you look weak and cowardly.

Ensure Understanding: This is where many managers mess up. They do not know how to ensure the other person actually heard the message. Many people feel acquired saying, “Now, what did I say?” The military has brief backs before missions to ensure everyone understands the message before the mission. They do this because somewhere after the first minute people begin to tune out. The pay more attention if they know they are going to be asked to repeat what was said. It is critical that you ask people to summarize, or tell you specifically, the conversation that you had. This way it ensures that the other person did not misinterpret what you said. For example, they will not believe they are getting a pay raise when you are docking their pay. Don’t laugh; it has happened to people before. Entire comedy shows are developed around the concept of one person misinterpreting what another person said. By asking the person to repeat what you said you ensure proper understanding. It is the most critical, and underutilized, skill a manager must master to have effective conversations.

Follow Up: Now that you have had the conversation and ensured proper understanding, it is time to schedule a follow up. Set the date 30, 60, and 90 days out. After 30 days you should see the biggest changes in regards to your conversation. After 60 days, most of the problems should have gone away and changes sticking. After 90 days changes in behavior should now be engrained. Along the way, continue to have shorter conversations tweaking what you discussed in your original crucial conversation.

If you are to be an effective manager you must master the five skills outlined in this blog. The choice is yours and rewards for becoming a master communicator are also yours.

Old school tangibles versus new school intangibles for motivating and connecting employees.

 

 

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by
Mike Phibbs

I recently read an old school book on leadership. To paraphrase a few lines, the organizations benefit packages are a key driver of motivation. The supervisor can’t influence those benefits but he or she can find out the costs of those benefits and tell the employee how much the organization is paying to keep them healthy and on the job. Because the employee received a high dollar benefit package they will be motivated. Well, welcome back to 1950’s thinking!

Let me illustrate how outdated this view is in comparison to today’s workers who value their “fit” within an organization. A potential employee interviews with the HR Director of an organization. The candidate asks about the organizations culture and how much it does for the community. The director responds that the organization has a great benefit package, which includes medical, life insurance and a 401K plan. The candidate tells the director that he saw that on the website, but wants to know how the employees are valued, and their interests to help out in the community are supported. The director responds back that they spend a lot of money per person on the benefit package. Again, the candidate responds back again that it is not about the co-pay, but rather the feel of the company he is interested in hearing. The director again, explains they give a great benefit package and people are motivated to work there to get those benefits. Community efforts are lauded, but the business of this organization is to make money. Here people are motivated by the money and great working conditions rather than touchy-feely outreach programs. At this point, the conversation is over and the candidate knows that he will not fit in with this type of thinking.

If you have to bribe people to work at your organization with expensive benefits then you have a problem. What happens if the benefit packages have to be reduced because of a downturn in the economy? That’s why you never rely on tangible benefits to motivate people. Rather, you highlight the intangibles. If the overall “feel” is right then the candidate will be more interested in the job and be more motivated as an employee. The emotional connections to tie people to the organization are the true drives of engagement and motivation.

It is the intangibles of the work and organization that attract, engage, retain, and motivate employees. From the outset, they want to know what it will feel like to work in a company. How are the employees treated? Even in assembly line style work employees can be extremely motivated and loyal to the organization. From the outset, you have to answer the question, “Are the employees treated as valued employees who every effort benefits the entire organization?” In turn, they will feel motivated if the intrinsic benefits exist for belonging to a high performance culture; where, excellence it not only expected from all employees, but freely given.

It all starts on how well the organization brands its self as a work destination for people who want to set down roots and are willing to work. When they are “welcomed” to the organization each new employee understands that they are a valued part of the team. Team leaders understand when someone is new to an organization they are nervous and need reassurance. During training, they meet everyone and are paired with a person of likeminded personality to help conduct the training and answer questions. Once trained and on the floor, the supervisors continue to build the team and integrate the person into the overall success of the organization. It is the intangibles of working for a leader, and being a part of a team, that motivates people. Benefit packages are important, but no one has ever been motivated to do anything more than what is required because they were told how much a company spend on their benefits. Employees who are intrinsically motivated be the organization, what it does, the internal community, and the right “feel” will fight to ensure the company is strong and profitable. The old school thinking that tangible motivate should be in a text book on bad management. Reading how to use intangibles of the organization to motivate employees is the future, and should be read by every leader trying to make a difference in their organization.

Setting correct priorities makes the difference between mere survival and success.

by

Mike Phibbs

Imagine being dropped off in the woods with only a knife and some rope for your survival. The hours are counting down and you are on the clock to darkness. What are you going to do? Most people will sit down and cry, thinking they are going to die, and they may be right. What are your priorities? What must you do to survive? These same scenarios play out in the business world every day. Let’s see how lessons from survival experts Les Stroud, Dave Canterbury and Cody Lundin can save your life in the deep woods or the concrete forest of your town.

Let’s face it, people watch the survival shows because we admire people who can go out into the woods, desert, or ocean and survive on the bare basics that nature has to offer. Even “preppers” go out and buy supplies and store them up. After many months or living off their bought products they too will be at the mercy of nature. Truth be told, we can all survive like Les, Cody, and Dave. It is in our genetic code and in Asia, Africa, and South America many people still live a primitive life style. We, in our modern age, simply don’t have to live that way and most don’t choose too, until fate forces us to relinquish living like a spoiled 5 year old and get back to basics. Even in the modern day world, many independent entrepreneurs and companies fail because they choose to skip the primitive business basics and never create the foundation of success and move forward and instead focus on the end product and work their way backwards.

Let’s observe the success of the “Wild Man of the Woods” Les Stroud and his three keys to survival. On his show, Les works alone, like the lone entrepreneur responsible only for his own safety and survival. When he is paired up with someone else he is an exacting task master that requires absolute perfection from his partner(s). In reality, he also participates in Eco-Challenges and other adventure racing events where team work is required; however, his teams operate at a higher level than most. When Les is dropped off in the uninhabited backlands he has clear priorities: Shelter, fire and then water. First, protect yourself from the outside elements. If the environment disables you then you are dead. Likewise in business, the lone entrepreneur only has himself to seek guidance and find shelter from his or her competitors. For many in business, the basic shelter is a well thought out idea that sets you apart from your competition. Why are you better than anyone else?
Next, Les builds fire to warm himself up and create the first foundation for success that helps create the motivation and drive to survive. For thousands of years the quest for fire went unanswered. Most people today can’t build a fire out of a stick, spool of yarn, and scrapings from a tree. Yet, Les in a poof and wave of his hand seemingly at the wave of a hand creates in fire. He must live, and pay attention to, the moment. Daydreaming and focusing on the future diverts attention from what he is trying to accomplish right now; your shelter may collapse or fire go out. Likewise, the single entrepreneur must also experience the first success that builds the foundation for success. A well thought out business plan that doesn’t simply state the strategy is to succeed, but spells out what success actually looks like and the steps vividly showing every action steps needed from conceptualization to the fulfillment of the endeavor.

Third, Les then works on finding water. It’s crucial to his survival but is third on the list. Why? Because, he can survive a few days without water, while death comes quickly without shelter and fire. He is willing to drink water, or purified urine, that most people gag at the thought of consuming. The question becomes, what are you willing to do to survive? For the single entrepreneur, are you placing the priorities for your survival as a company in the right order? What you are doing may be crucial but not critically important for you to get through the day. Do not go down the path of thinking of your success, and forgetting to live in the moment, before you have ensured your foundation has been set?

Now, think about two highly successful people, such as Dave Canterbury and Dave Lundin, coming together and being forced to resolve differences in order to not only succeed but survive. Like seasoned business partners they have the talent and drive to succeed. The difference between Les and them is they have to work together and resolve their difference in order to be successful. Both come from different backgrounds and possessed their own unique stories before they collaborated on Dual Survival. They use confrontation not as a means to overwhelm the other, but as a vehicle to communicate differing perspectives on the situation at hand. Through confrontation comes collaboration of effort and focused energy. Together, they can rationalize the situation, and develop a better method of attack, to ensure the highest probability of survival and success. Likewise, when you have a business, or a significant other, effective communication of observations, perspective, and ideas is crucial for your success together. You may be extremely passionate and experienced as individuals, but when you come together with a set goal, like survival, your reliance on each other becomes compounded. By actively listening to the other person’s point of view you can gain insight into your own ideas and maybe determine a better way to handle the situation. Build upon your past individual successes to create the pathways to future success. By having an active partner, you are not alone and don’t have to make all of the decisions. Share the burden and create synergy which leads to your survival and success.

Paying attention to what you are doing in this very moment is crucial to your own survival. Success is a byproduct of your conceptualization and implementation of priorities. Even the best plans and intentions do not succeed. To increase the mere chance of survival, while not even guaranteeing success, solid foundations and tactics must be built and created. Then the environment determines if you will survive. Whether you are out alone in the wilderness, or in a forest made of concrete and skyscrapers, for survival you have to ensure that priorities are sound and in the correct order to provide the greatest probability of success. Do not go blindly into an endeavor and hope for the best. Create the conditions that favor not only your survival but your success. After you get the basics down and a solid foundation for your business, or personal life set, you can begin to be creative and reach the success you imagined.