While we struggle to compromise with other people at work, in the home, or even our circle of friends, it is so easy to compromise when we evaluate ourselves.
Shortly after my initial back injury, I was assigned to the Training Division for my department since I could no longer work in operations. With all transparency, I strongly disliked the captain I was working for. I felt he was narcissistic, arrogant, self-serving, lazy, couldn’t control his emotions, and did not like to do any of his own work himself. He loved to “delegate” everything. The list of his poor qualities with how he lead people could go on. In confidence, I had other senior firefighters, and even captains tell me how much they despised him. I heard things like “don’t trust him” or “he needs to be reported.” Those two phrases are not common ones that you normally hear in the fire department.
One week toward the end of summer, the whole department was required to go through annual wildland firefighting training. My captain was in charge of all of the organizing and implementing of that training. He walked over to me in the morning and told me I was going to build a bunch of “paper doll house looking things” and glue them to a giant board. The point was to be able to simulate how we would defend homes in a rural environment in case of a large wildfire. He was suppose to then use this board to brief all of the crews with tactics before they went out to the actual wildland to do their training.
As he gave me more orders, I responded with “Yes sir” as always, but I wanted to roll my eyes because of how trivial the assignment seemed to me. As I was glueing together all of the “paper doll house looking things” all I could think about was taking a walk next to the nearby bay and being as far away from him as possible. I went to all of these different intense schoolings to become a firefighter/paramedic, and here I was making “paper doll house looking things.” I tried to convince myself that I was past having to do unimportant assignments.
I could feel my blood pressure and heart rate increasing as the assignment went on. It was such a waste of time, I kept telling myself. The paper wasn’t sticking well and I had no plans to put in extra effort to combat that. After about an hour of putting together this ridiculous small scale model of rural homes, I took off outside to go on my walk next to the bay. After 20 minutes of walking, I got a text from my captain “come back to the office.” His “bossy” text wasn’t out of the ordinary, so I didn’t think much of it.
I made my way inside, and before the door even closed behind me my captain started ripping me a new one. He pointed down to the board, and I saw a few of the “paper doll house looking things” had come apart. I was almost impressed with the amount of cursing and name calling he could fit into one sentence after that. I will save the exact words with what he said for another time, but let’s just say he wasn’t too happy with me. He got more angry as he continued to yell while I was having to bite my tongue even harder. I felt like I just took a shot of adrenaline and was ready to go fight. In my head I was thinking things like “WHY DON”T YOU DO THE WORK YOURSELF YOU SLOB? WHY DON’T YOU GET OFF YOUR LAZY BUTT AND DO SOMETHING..EVER? WHY DON”T YOU GROW UP AND LEARN HOW TO CONTROL YOUR EMOTIONS? DID YOU KNOW NOBODY LIKES YOU? YOU ARE AN EMBARRASSMENT AS A LEADER!”
As fast as he was name calling and yelling, I was doing the same thing but in my head. It got to the point where it felt like there was going to be a physical altercation (even though I hadn’t said a word) so I decided to turn around and leave the office. As I was departing, I looked around the office and all of the other staff were dead silent. Even the Chief of Training had his eyes wide open and was speechless. I was filled with rage, and made my way back to the bay.
As I cooled down a bit I decided to have a therapy session with myself. I kept reminding myself that it was an unimportant task, so it doesn’t matter that I didn’t do a good job. He should have done his own work himself anyway right? My captain was the one who needed to change and not me. Or so I thought.
It took a long time to realize after that day that I was just stroking my own ego in every part of that scenario. After my initial evaluation and self-evaluation after the incident, I should have realized that it was my own fault. Instead of taking a deep look into the mirror, I pointed my finger at my captain. My self-evaluation should have revealed that my work ethic shouldn’t change based on the present circumstance or assignment I was given.
When it comes to having a winning mindset and growth mentality, let’s have zero compromises. At least with the self-evaluation part.
Stay mission driven everyone.