“A man has got to die of something, because it would be a shame to die of nothing,” is a quote from my friend Joey W. What brings this to mind today is a conversation with my youngest son who is considering joining the Marine Corps. He said that the question he still had is knowing how he would deal with someone shooting at him. Not being a military veteran, I could only relate to dealing with fear as a firefighter.
In dealing with high risk, high consequence situations, my thoughts are that you consider what could happen. You think them through very well. Determine the possible outcomes, step by step. Keep asking what if, and then what until you reach the logical termination. Then you reject or accept the consequences. Rejection means you find something else to do, another way. Accepting the consequences means you study well, train hard and practice often. “Train like you fight, fight like you train.” Then focus on the job at hand.
In 1993, I attended a Franklin training seminar “What Matters Most.” I don’t think it was Franklin Covey at that time though Jim Savage was the instructor. He was a former coach, I think an offensive coordinator, for the Washington Redskins. He taught us to establish our values in a written format to reference. He said the principles on which we build our lives are un-perceptively threatened by daily influences. Writing and reviewing these would allow that we could better manage our lives. We could make conscious decisions, to change or not to change, of these precepts and not allow arbitrary evolution. I took his advice.
At one point I reviewed my acceptance of the life and death, and injury, consequences of the choice of my career. It came in line of a series of firefighter injuries and deaths where the risk was to save abandon, vacant buildings, valueless property. Yes, someone will say, “You never know that someone just may be in there.” This was my question, “What would I willingly die for?” Here is my answer, “I would die for my faith, my family, my friends, my foe and freedom.” I also wrote justification for my answer which is more detailed than today’s purpose.
This led me to as another question. I found this next question more difficult to answer. I felt I needed to know. I have this planning background that believes in predetermined actions for predetermined situations. You can expect eventualities then identify and practice the behaviors necessary for survival. My next question was, “What would I kill for?” Here is my answer, “I would kill only for the protection of another person’s life when in immediate jeopardy.”
I remember kissing my wife and babies good-bye the mornings before work and wondering. I get teary eyed thinking about it. How do you know how you will react to a situation? The answer is a question, “How have you prepared yourself?”