'B-Shifter' Offers Nuggets of Knowledge

Editor's note: What are some of your favorite firefighting books? Have you already checked out the offerings Peggy Glenn outlines in the following column? Share your thoughts and experiences in the Member Comments section at the end of this article.   

Bookin' it up the Career Ladder

Welcome to my first column — and what an honor it is to share my world of books with all of you.

First, how hard do you laugh every day? Did you know that the endorphins released by laughter are more powerful than those released by exercise? I suggest you get yourself a huge dose of endorphins by diving into Nick Brunacini's new book, "B-Shifter." Nick's sense of humor knows no bounds and knows no peer. Every department has its "misfit shift." In Nick's department, Phoenix, it's B Shift. In your city, it might be Blue Shift, Green Shift, or A Shift; but you know what I'm talking about here.

However, Nick is not all play and no work. Be forewarned, buried in Nick's outrageous stories of the antics that he and his fellow B-Shifters get into are nuggets of knowledge. You learn about great leaders by reading about the good ones and reading about the not-so-good ones.

You learn the true reasons people live for their fire service job — it's not just the community chow, it's also the teamwork on a tragic scene, the decompressing afterwards, and the rallying when a brother or sister needs help. You also learn a lot about self-responsibility within a team. And, you'll OD on endorphins, I promise. It's the best $10 you'll ever spend, Nick guarantees it.

'Going for Gold'
Whenever I need a few words of wisdom and I can't connect via phone, I seek out one of the books I sell. At least once a month I find myself drawn to Ronny Coleman's "Going for Gold." I first met Ronny when he was fire chief in San Clemente, California. He has the most amazing way of distilling complex concepts into a few words.

His blazing energy is contagious and his mind is a marvel. His perspective is wide-angle; none of this telescopic or myopic stuff for him. There's a section early in his book that talks about how to do a self-assessment to see if going for a gold badge is right for you. These exercises are also fantastic as self-checks once you are the boss —yes, even in a bookstore being the boss can be a lot like being in charge of a fire company. There are personalities, there are chores that are less than desirable, and there are things we do that we’d rather not do. But it’s a fact that we love to come to work every day.

Ronny talks about assessing your decisiveness — can you make a decision when you need to, or do you need affirmation from above and below? He talks about reviewing your decisions with a good mirror — what were the really good ones you made, and what were the ones you'd like to do over? Are you methodically productive? Or do you spin around like a top when there are too many projects to juggle? Even if you’re a long way from a gold badge yourself, it never hurts to have some insight into the perspective of the officer approaching Chiefdom. 

My goal in these columns is to share a lot, and here's a small sampling of what you can expect from me in future columns.

  • Details on some of the lesser-known books
  • Tidbits that might have been overlooked in the big books
  • Ways to read "outside the fire lines" to gain insight from leaders in business and management 
  • "Under the radar" fire books that offer a different perspective
  • The handiest pocket-guides you'll ever use
  • New editions and new books  



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