FDIC 2022: Starving the distraction, feeding the focus
It’s time to step up and lead, adopt the technological revolution around us, and focus on education and connection
It’s been another whirlwind educational opportunity at FDIC in Indianapolis. It is good to see people in person again and meet face to face with so many gifted and talented friends and colleagues.
I think anecdotally, we all know the vision of these conferences is like the proverbial Congress-of-old – thousands of us gather at the rotunda to hear from the best and brightest about all of the competing or complementing ideas to form a better union. But it can be easy to become overwhelmed by all the options and opportunities around us. A colleague’s simple statement recently reminded me of the critical approach to these conferences and networking opportunities. She said it’s “time to starve the distraction and feed the focus” – a timely and relevant quote as we direct our attention to learning this week.
While it would be much too difficult to distill this week’s impacts into a single article, there are two main takeaways I’ll offer for now, but check back later for additional highlights from the show.
It’s time to step up
Deputy Chief (ret.) Frank Viscuso of the Kearny (New Jersey) Fire Department delivered Thursday’s keynote speech titled “It’s Time to Step Up!”
Chief Viscuso challenged fire service leaders to look within and ask these three questions:
- What must I KEEP doing?
- What must I STOP doing?
- What must I START doing?
Viscuso emphasized that the leader needs to look within first – make sure your house is in order before shouldering the expectation to lead others. Probably the most probing and practical quote from Viscuso sums this lesson up: “A leader of one CAN become a leader of many. But if you can’t lead ONE, you’ll never lead ANY!” Starve the distractions, feed the focus!
We have watched the technological revolution impact so much of what we use in our day-to-day life – cell phones, social media, etc. – and now we see the introduction of electric fire engines and digital wireless pump panels. That revolution continues, with the absence of face-to-face opportunities for so long reinforcing the speed and breadth of the change happening all around us.
FDIC showcases the revolution up close and personal. From the Rosenbauer electric engine in service in Los Angeles to the Pierce electric engines in Madison, Wisconsin, and soon Portland, Oregon, to the fire-service first-of-its kind Seek Thermal AttackPRO thermal imaging camera with independent dual-gain pixels and the Thermite “SWAT-BOT” that provides shielded offensive and defensive capabilities for first responders, to the Hale SAM digital pump panel configuration with optional remote operator, the technologic revolution for the fire service has exploded.
While it’s easy to be distracted by all the “shiny objects” at the show, we must embrace the technological evolution as it makes sense for our departments’ operations. What does that mean, chief? Well, very simply, you need to starve your distractions and feed your focus! Focus on what works for your members, your department; don’t become consumed by extraneous ideas and products that may be flashy but not advance your mission and vision. Focus on connection, education and tools that genuinely help you do the job better.
As fire chiefs and fire instructors, we have two choices: Either we adapt to the ever-evolving culture and environment around us or face extinction. If you don’t like change, I assure you you’re going to love extinction!
Check the indignant ego of “This is the way we’ve always done it” well within the dungeons of the past. As you close the dungeon doorway behind you, ask yourself whether you are ready to lead others forward. Are you leading many, or will you ever lead any?
As I climb in the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation 9/11 Memorial stair climb at Lucas Oil Stadium Friday afternoon, I will be starving the distractions of armchair quarterbacks and feeding the focus of 343 who paid the ultimate sacrifice on 9/11.
Starve your distractions and feed your focus – it’s time to step up and lead!