Report date
July 2022
Learning Log

As I write the final learning log for the Bush Foundation Fellowship, I am reflecting on the lessons learned, the people I have met, and the renewed sense of purpose I have in pursuing professional endeavors for the greater good. Starting with the initial Blandin Foundation in 2018 and then spurred on by the Bush Foundation Fellowship in 2020, I have had personal and professional growth opportunities which very few other people will ever be so fortunate to have. When I began this journey, I had no idea regarding the number of doors this would open and the connections I would make during this process. I am very grateful I chose to do the two-year program as there simple was too much education and travel in my plan to fit into one year. A one-year plan would have been further impacted by the pandemic and would likely have been impossible to complete. I am thankful for the mentors in this program which have helped me strengthen my resilience and influence my leadership style. I have had the opportunity to begin to pay this mentorship experience forward to others seeking guidance in emergency services, presenting, and writing. I have found this experience to be richly rewarding. It is encouraging to see that more and more fire and EMS agencies are recognizing the need for a consolidated approach to addressing the shortage of available EMS and fire resources nationwide.
As a consultant I find that discussing and formulating actionable plans to progress the level of emergency services in a designated area to be very gratifying. By continuing to teach for the university, it has allowed me to incorporate some of the lessons learned during the educational experiences at Harvard into coursework with student assignments. Building capacity in others and watching them grow as they face and overcome obstacles is truly one of the most satisfying feelings whether it is university students or fire department members. In addition to discussion and exploration of common challenges with colleagues, I have found the continued practice of reading and journaling to be edifying and clarifying. True leadership is flexible and situationally adaptable because leadership is building capacity in others. By building capacity in others, you are building it in yourself as a coach and a mentor by providing the opportunity for growth. The level of dedication and resourcefulness which I have seen demonstrated by others in my academic and work environments is nothing short of impressive. In one instance a solution was discovered and enacted which would not have even been considered if I were the only person attempting to solve this dilemma. Once again, the value of a relationship with the right person in another health care organization, not necessarily the highest-ranking person, was demonstrated.
I have learned that leadership is best realized and grows when facing challenges. These challenges can come in many forms, whether through the incompetence of others or more ominously by the purposeful deception and manipulation of people and misrepresentation of facts. True leadership requires engagement and pushback when confronted with evidence of nepotism, self-dealing, and influence-peddling of individuals in authority. There is encouragement when one considers the quote from Augustine of Hippo, “The truth is like a lion; you don’t have to defend it. Let it loose; it will defend itself.”
As I prepare to present at the International Fire Chiefs Association’s Fire Rescue International Conference, I look forward to meeting with other fire service leaders and the cultivation of stronger working relationships. The Harvard classes resulting in obtaining the Public Leadership Credential have been an instrumental part of my most leadership journey and I am thankful to the Bush Foundation for this opportunity. These classes were taught by some of the best professors, yet what I enjoyed the most were my classmates who came from a variety of backgrounds and work disciplines. I learned a substantial amount from my classmates and have made some lasting connections because of this program. Likewise, the Antarctica experience was a great experience when it came to establishing connections and meeting some very interesting people while studying the visible effects of climate change. There are few places as dramatic as Antarctica where you can see the receding glaciers documented from guides who visited just years before. The experience with nature was one unlike any other, from the 50,000 King penguin colony to the Humpback whale and even the playful seals and dolphins. A trip such as this and the education I received courtesy of the Bush Foundation is truly a once in a lifetime gift, and for this I am grateful to the foundation and all those who supported me on this journey. Thank you!