Thank you for providing this opportunity for Alice to speak. I hope I am able to give you
the same dynamic delivery and information that she would have presented.
I would like to focus on 4 key items that I believe all of us are engaged in regardless of
whether we want to or not.
I want to share the definitions of the 4 items:
CHANGE: has several definitions – by virtue of that it is a challenge for each one of us:
To make different the form, nature, content, future course
To transform or convert
To become altered or modified
To become transformed or converted
To pass from one phase to another
A variation or deviation
Variety or novelty
As you can see, all of these meanings can apply to each one of us. The changes that are
occurring within our agencies, the country, the world, and what we do for a living
surrounds us and is a constant. The old saying that the only guarantee in life is taxes and
death, well in the 21st century it should be probably be changed to be “The only
guarantees in life are change, taxes, and death”.
What can you do to survive all of the changes? You have to figure that out for
yourselves, but I think the one primary thing you can do is focus on the basics – work
toward meeting the needs within your job, your home, and yourself at the basic level –
you know it, you live it, and you keep it. Don’t lose that.
UNCERTAINTY: The state of being uncertain; doubt; hesitancy
An instance of uncertainty, doubt, etc.
Unpredictability, indefiniteness
The definition of uncertain is : not confident, assured or free from hesitancy;
Not clearly or precisely determined
WOW! First constant change, and now uncertainty. We have an uncertainty in our
professional lives and possibly in our personal lives. Professionally we are faced with the
President’s initiatives surrounding competitive sourcing, healthy forests, cutting taxes,
and maybe going to war. Within our professional lives, we are uncertain about the
structure of Homeland Defense Agency and what that means to us as incident
management personnel, as well as what we are doing today in several states with the
Exotic New Castle Disease and the Shuttle Recovery. We are moving farther and farther
away from our agencies missions. Can we continue at this pace? I truly don’t know but I
suspect not. Our leaders recognize this within our agencies and are working to identify
alternatives. This brings to mind another word: PATIENCE.
ACCOUNTABILITY: The quality or state of being accountable
An obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s
Capable of being explained
How many of you are aware of what is going on with Congressional oversight on fire
expenditures? That requires all of us to focus on being accountable. Accept
responsibility. Answerable. Pretty powerful words. It got my attention and should get
yours. We will be subjected to more and more reviews this year and in the future.
Budgets are tight, expending funds will be scrutinized. If we make stupid mistakes we
will be taken to task. How do you define stupid? Did you read the newspaper articles
stating we bought carpet and spent money like drunken sailors? That gets people’s
attention, whether the article was accurate or inaccurate. The point is, being able to
accept responsibility for when we do make stupid decisions. When we make the right
decisions, simply document why the decision is made. Another area that continues to
bring attention to us is the cache business. I know you will probably be exposed to some
of the statistics from that but do you know why fire loss tolerance targets exist? We were
audited. We are to be accountable. Make the right decisions during an incident. If you
don’t need it, return it or better yet, don’t order it. I realize this is easy for me to stand
up here and say this, but we have to get back to basics, use common sense, and we should
be able to explain what occurred. Don’t do it with an attitude of defending oneself, but
with an attitude of being efficient and effective. Accountability.
LEADERSHIP: providing purpose, direction and motivation to accomplish tasks.
How many of you are supervisors in your current positions? How many of you believe
that you are a leader even if you are not a supervisor?
A leader has to be able to take charge, be responsible for their own actions, accept
responsibility for the team’s performance, know your strengths and weaknesses,
ACTIVELY listen, make sound and timely decisions, communicate, clearly state
expectations, reward, and SET the EXAMPLE.
I believe all of us are a leader. We must focus on these qualities to be a good leader. The
three words I spoke of already, drop directly into leadership. How will you, your
employees, your families, or your friends deal with CHANGE, UNCERTAINTY AND
I don’t have any magic tricks or bullets of wisdom to tell you how to do that, but I can
suggest that you sit down and identify the primary items surrounding change, uncertainty,
accountability and leadership impacting you today and will continue to impact you
tomorrow. After you do that, then identify the weaknesses and strengths within yourself
that can have positive and negative influence on each of those words.
After you do that my hope is you will come to a conclusion:
You can get through the change you are facing as an individual and we are facing
You will work toward developing patience to deal with the uncertainty
Be accountable in what you do and admit if a mistake is made but learn from it
Be the best leader you can be for yourself and all around you
strengths and improving your weaknesses.
Thank you for your attention and most of all YOUR HARD WORK and all that you do
for the PUBLIC.