Lessons Learned from Fort Collins

The ISFSI Fall Instructor Development Conference is both a rewarding part of my job and a challenging pain!  Every year leading up to the conference I beat my head on the wall and repeat “I will never do this event again.”  The logistical nature of running this conference becomes so overwhelming and consuming that life tends to revolve around nothing else. 


And then during the week of the conference I am reminded of the immense value and powerful place this event serves for our members.  It’s a place where titles are checked at the door and the commonalities of the profession build lasting friendships.  It’s where the value of the content is painted into a memorable piece of art and not a single person goes home wishing they had been anywhere else. 


As I’ve reflected on the months leading up to the fall conference and the week of the event I remind myself of the lessons I can carry forth.


  • Leadership isn’t the same thing as servant leadership! The devotion of our membership to make events like this happen without a single thought about compensation or accolades galore just doesn’t exist.  They serve the organization with a higher purpose and simply ask for nothing in return.  The servant leaders of ISFSI are dedicated to building a family of humble and “pay it forward” professionals.  It’s a beautiful thing to watch.  I’m inspired to be a servant leader.
  • Love fiercely. Don’t take a moment in life for granted as we are only on this earth for a blip in time.  The way we’ve loved and the contributions we leave behind are all we will be remembered for.  Give of yourself freely and without reserve.  Thank you, Chief Kenny, for sharing this with me.
  • Don’t question the value of a hand shake and an introduction. The week was all about building friendships.  One simple hand shake can be the catalyst for changing another instructor’s life.  Yes, I said “life!” 
  • Stop and listen. Don’t listen to respond.  Listen to listen!  I am now conscious of this and since I’ve started listening I am committed to solving. 


It’s a powerful place to be in the scope of the world, surrounded by the men and women of the Society dedicated to improving their personal professionalism.  You all are changing the face of the fire service instructor by showing up to the game.  So, as you go into the weekend with a grin on your face, because we are each blessed to have another weekend in front of us, I challenge you to the following; shake the hand of one man/woman in in your department (or even in your division) and ask them how they are doing.  And then STOP and LISTEN!  You may be surprised at the impact you will have. 


Go forth and lead with a servant heart.

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