Fire lighter or fire extinguisher?

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Georgette Young
  • 17th Training Support Squadron commander
If you've ever built a fire you know that its tendency is to burn out. You must continually feed it and protect the flame from the elements so it can continue to burn. Not everyone you meet will help fuel the fire. There are two kinds of people that you will encounter in your life: fire lighters and fire extinguishers.

The first group of people will inspire you, encourage you and go out of their way to help you achieve your goals. You know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they won't bail out when the road gets rocky or the mountain is too high to climb. Their knowledge about your imperfections and scars will never change their level of dedication and commitment to you. Fire lighters are like bright, shiny pennies. Once you've found one, put them in the bank, they are like gold. The key to keeping the flame alive is to nurture your relationship with these individuals: keep in touch, call them, send them birthday cards, tell them you sincerely appreciate them. They will make time for you whenever you need them. They are truly awesome people. I can name a few fire lighters that have always been there to light the way for me when the fire was nearly burned out.

Now, on the other hand, there is the second group called the fire extinguishers. They will throw cold water on you in the middle of winter. You all probably have run across this group of people. Fire extinguishers uses phrases such as: "It's not in the budget," "That's not practical," "We've tried that before and it didn't work," "If it ain't broken don't fix it," "Who will do all the extra work?" "We don't have enough experience, talent, education, etc," "Who do you think you are?" "I already gave at the office" and "Change, we don't need no stinking change."

If you've heard one or more of these excuses coming from people in your squadron and/or work centers, here is a tip to survive this group; like them and even come to love them, but don't let them influence your well-being, your mood, spoil your day or let them diminish the flame that burns beneath. Fire extinguishers always focus on what's wrong rather than on what's right. These people can find the cloud that comes with every silver lining. They doubt and worse than that, they cause doubt that spreads throughout your organization like wildfire. They resist change and they will eventually keep you from reaching your goals by trying to put the fire out of your passion. Sometimes, they do it deliberately and with a vengeance of inflicting pain and suffering. Other times, they don't realize that they are doing it. That is when you need to handle them with some TLC!

You know the type I'm sure, they aren't much fun to be around and the negativity starts rubbing off on you. Don't let them get the better of you...keep working toward your goals.

You can choose to be around fire extinguishers or spend more time with fire lighters who view you not as you are, but as you could be. Which one of your friends and/or coworkers will fuel and ignite your passion to succeed? If your goals and priorities don't align with the fire extinguishers, seek out the fire lighters instead. They are out there, you just need to keep an eye out for them.