Always Something New to Learn

I strongly believe that a good Emergency Manager is a jack of all trades and knows a little bit about everything.  I’m fortunate that my background is such that I have an incredibly varied background that includes everything from supply chain and logistics management, to religious ministry, to volunteer management, to emergency response, to operations and event management! Continue reading


Just keep learning

So I’m still learning. I know that, but it still stings a little when I ask the wrong question or make the wrong choice. I’m still having some challenges with the switch from local to state/provincial. Its a different mindset and one that is more about enabling and supporting than being out and doing.

This week’s big learning was that sometimes asking yourself why is just as important as actually doing something. What am I seeking to accomplish by doing this? Having someone else ask me this question put some perspective on my actions and allowed me to prioritize them in an appropriate way.

In the end, all was good.

Take a deep breath…

File the lesson away for next time…

Move on to the next thing…

There’s always more to be done.

Personal Resilience Part 3: When Something Bad Happens, You Might Not be Able to Cope…

In my last post, I talked about a couple times where my resilience had failed me. I wanted to share some of my personal experience with you so that you can understand my experience with Personal Resilience.

The truth of it is that sometimes when bad things happen, you won’t be able to cope with it. For some people, that is a serious injury (or sometimes a not-so-serious injury) to a loved one. Sometimes it is something else. The breaking point is different for every person and every situation.

When thinking about your own personal resilience, you have to consider that no matter how resilient you are, you will likely encounter a circumstance that exceeds your ability to cope. Your resilience will fail you at some point.

It might sound like I’m being hard on myself or others but knowing that your personal resilience can fail you means that you can be better prepared.

Preparedness is a big part of emergency management, and one that many people don’t consider when making personal or family emergency plans. Having faced the failure of my resilience before means that I know I will likely face it again in the future.

My hope is that you will  also be better prepared simply by knowing that unless you are incredibly fortunate, your resilience will also fail you at some point.

Just can’t turn it off…

My wife hates the fact that I don’t ever turn off my emergency management brain, but has learned to live with it. While on vacation this past week, I took some pictures of some great ideas I saw in different places. 
I saw this one in a long term care home. I think it even glows in the dark! They store it inside the room until they have evacuated the room and then it hangs on the outside door knob. This isn’t a perfect solution to marking evacuated rooms, but for a quick and dirty fix before getting a permanent solution, it’s a great idea!

This is an awesome idea!! Having a portion of the window that can be easily ventilated without breaking a window makes things easier on both the response and recovery and of things. Oh, and don’t mind the three year-old in the picture…we were on vacation at the time!

What are some of the great ideas you’ve seen when you’ve been on vacation or visiting somewhere new?

Managing my own Resilience

I have had a tough month.  I had a series of calls that took a toll on me emotionally and decided to take a step back from responding for a while.  Conveniently, I also had some vacation previously scheduled for the end of July, so I’ve been doing things to strengthen my own resilience.  I had reached the limit of my personal resilience and needed some time to find a new equilibrium.

So far, I’ve:

  • Spent some time playing with my daughter (including dancing with her at a long-term care facility to the great joy of some of the residents)
  • Smoking a cigar and drinking scotch with my mother
  • Enjoying a fantastic drive through one of my favorite areas of the country
  • Dismantling a dock with my father (our demolition activities have become an annual tradition)
  • Spent some time doing nothing…and not feeling guilty about it

I’ve got another week or so before I go back to work, and have some great experiences coming up!  I’ll let you know how it goes!

Take a few minutes to look after yourself, you’ll be more resilient and happier too!

Personal Resilience Part 2: Sometimes, Bad Things Happen to You…

In my last post, I talked about how bad things will happen and that understanding and internalizing this truth will help you build your personal resilience.  Today, I want to help you understand that none of us are immune to having bad things happen in our own lives.  To do this, I want to share two stories from my own life where my personal resilience failed me. Continue reading

Personal Resilience Part 1: Bad Things Happen

I was browsing LinkedIn the other day when I came across a post that I think was intended to be “inspirational”, but actually serves to have the opposite effect.  It was a picture of rose-coloured glasses with words that read something to the effect of: “If the world looks better through rose-coloured glasses, wear them.”

Now, I’m all for being optimistic and trying to see the good things in life (there are actually a lot of them once you start looking for them), but seeing the world through rose-coloured glasses is detrimental to personal resilience, and resilience in general.  If you go through life thinking that nothing bad can ever happen, you will be very surprised when something bad does happen.  Seeing only the good things in life leaves you entirely unprepared for the bad things that happen.

And bad things DO happen!  They happen all the time!  Cars crash, people die, houses are destroyed in fires, floods wipe out crops, and millions of other bad things happen every day.  As a firefighter/first responder and emergency manager, my career and vocation both depend on bad things happening.  Lets be clear, I don’t ever want something bad to happen, but that’s where my skills, strength, and experience are so you can believe me when I say that bad things happen all the time!

Understanding this and incorporating it into your worldview is an important first step to building personal resilience.  Just the knowledge that bad things happen sometimes will help you to see the world in a realistic way and better prepare you for the next step in building personal resilience: Sometimes, bad things happen to you.


I want to introduce you to a book that’s been out for over a decade, but still has some excellent advice and ideas to help you build your personal resilience.  If you buy through this link, a portion of your purchase may come back to me to help keep this blog running.

The Resilience Factor: 7 Keys to Finding Your Inner Strength and Overcoming Life’s Hurdles