Monday, February 24, 2014

Be Here Now

By Mark vonAppen

I believe that you have to build a strong foundation in all aspects of your profession, whatever it might be.  A solid base includes having a strong grip on the mental, physical, and emotional aspects of yourself and your game, because they are all linked together. 

If everything else is equal, mental and emotional control can make the difference. Most people feel that sports is all about speed and strength, but it goes much deeper than that.  Some people have a fear of success, others have a fear of failure. You have to prepare to succeed, you have to see it.
You have to ask yourself, "What is most important right now?" 
You have to learn how to be present in the moment, to be able maintain your focus on what is happening around you.  If you focus on living - or playing - in the moment, the pressure goes away.  In the present you're not worried about the past, or what might happen, you are only focused on the task at hand.  You have to ask yourself, "What is most important right now?" 

On our crew, we work hard at maintaining focus and recognizing when our attention begins to drift.  We all have triggers to snap our focus back to where it needed to be, and it differs from person to person.  When I begin to drift, I look at the Fully Involved sticker on the underside of my helmet and it helps me regain focus.  We start each training session by saying, "I need your eyes and ears right now." 

Practice hard and set goals for each training session.  I'm not one to go out and simply go through the motions.  My mind is set on winning, even in practice.  Practice is where you develop good habits.  In sports, just like firefighting, you must train proactively for any situation.  You have to know how you will react given any circumstance.  You can't guess, you must practice for every possible scenario so you don't get surprised.  You have to train to the point that you can anticipate what is going to happen next.  

You have be willing to move out of your comfort zone.  When you try something new and you feel awkward and uncomfortable, but that is when you grow.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Keep Right

By Mark vonAppen

If being a driver means you are doing your job and working as hard as you can to be the best you can be every day then what is the problem?

I'm serious.  

I always get a big belly laugh out of the politically correct approach to how we communicate.  We dance around touchy subjects in order to protect feelings rather than talking honestly.  When all is said and done, a lot is said and little is done.

If we continue to defend mediocrity we will never truly move forward.  We can create the illusion of progress by telling lies because they are easier to hear, but everyone knows there is no substance in them.  Let's face it,
honesty, vision, and drive are scary to people who lack these traits. 

We spend more time protecting the feelings of those who are more comfortable staying inside rather than those who are getting outside and progressing.  The focus should be on celebrating those who give back to the profession through passion, learning, teaching, and leading.  We must hold up those people whose personal tools include drive, high standards, and lofty expectations.

Anyone who gets their feelings hurt by people who are fired up about the job is way off base. Those who speak out against us do so because they are angry at themselves for who they are, rather than at us for leading.  It is an anger that is misdirected and projected upon us.  The complainers have an ear because they squeak, we don't talk about what we're going to do, we do it.  We must go around it all and continue with our way.
"We can't change the past, but we can shape the future by focusing on right now.  Focusing on now keeps us right."
It is ridiculous to say, "These people are trying too hard to be great at their jobs. They must be stopped!"  Instead of saying to the drivers, "Pump the brakes," management needs to tell the noisy, complaining people to "get on the gas."

Reality is a bitter pill for some to swallow. The truth has no anger.  It simply is.  Open minds are required on both sides. Unfortunately, it feels like the cards are stacked against those who care the most about the craft.  

Continue to lead by example and communicate your passion. We need to focus less on who gets their feelings hurt by a message (The BIG4) that has no downside and get on with doing our jobs.  We don't engage in jealous fantasy.  We are free when we are outside training and doing what we love with our brothers and sisters.  

Maybe we're dreamers for life.

Working hard at being the best we can be is all we can control, so we work tirelessly to achieve perfection.  We know that the journey is the destination.  We can't change the past, but we can shape the future by focusing on right now.  Focusing on now keeps us right.