“I don’t care what anyone thinks of me”. I wish that were true. Everyone says it and yet…
I have talked about this before. Actually, I probably have talked more about this than any other subject(except maybe training), but I keep seeing and hearing from people who are doing it, so I am going to once again gently remind you not to give your power away!
Last night in EMT class we had a guest instructor. He was teaching us about ICS(Incident Command Structure) If you don’t know that is basically the structure that is used in emergency situations. It doesn’t have to be for Mass Casualty Incidents(MCI), but that was the topic of our lecture. The definition of MCI is any incident that requires more resources than you have, but for us last night it was a massive incident. A mutli car pile up on the freeway that had every possible issue that could come up, come up.
After a lecture of about 1.5 hours some of us were given toy cars. Mine was a fire truck with E-2(Engine -2) written on it. Others had E-3, E-10 or M-1(medic) etc. The way we were toned out(or called to the scene) I was first to arrive. The deal is the first to arrive takes command.
Now, I have had one other class on ICS and it was over a week ago. It was 3 hours and in between that class and last nights I had 2- 4 hour Hazmat classes and a test, plus studying for a trauma test tomorrow, the course exam this Saturday and my final national practical exam the following Thursday. While I have ran a few calls, I am a student and have not been in charge of anything, so what do you think my level of skill and or knowledge was to handle this massive incident?
That’s right…very, very little.
I arrived on scene and started doing what I remembered from the lectures. I could have stood around saying I don’t know or worried that I would mess up or whatever, but instead I just jumped in and did something. Now that could have been a disaster. I could have possibly screwed it all up and looked like a complete incompetent fool in front of my class and instructors, but you know what that didn’t…
Well, yeah, actually that is what happened.
I didn’t know what I was doing. After I was relieved of command(this is what happens after the head person gets on scene. The first commander hands it over) the new IC assigned me to be the EMS Branch Director to which I kept referring to as the EMS Supervisor(no such position). In addition I wasn’t entirely sure what my responsibilities as the branch director were, so I just started assigning people jobs. Good news is that I was fairly right on about that, but I had so many people to manage that I couldn’t really get them to do much(they, like me, weren’t sure what to do even after they had a job). I was lucky because my assistant was an actual IC and had years on the fire service, so a lot of what I did right was due to his help, but at the end when the instructor said who was suppose to do this…the answer was me or when he said who kept using this incorrect term…the answer was me or when he said how come you were on scene x amount of time and no one was transported, that was my failure. After he asked about 10 questions and my hand kept going up to take responsibility and then explain, he said. “Well, good thing now is that I know your voice well.” I am not entirely convinced that was in fact a good thing.
I am in class to learn. I messed up way more things than I did right, but I can tell you for sure 100% by being thrown into that situation and being forced to think I now know a ton. Enough to go be an EMS Branch Director on the next MCI…no, but about 85% more then when I first showed up at class…yes.
Having done it and failed I learned. At the beginning of class so much of what the instructor was saying was abstract to me. I had no real context to relate to, but after the table top exercise I had lots of context, so when everyone else had left and the 2 firemen stayed behind to show me what I could have done better, I absolutely understood what they were saying.
If I had let my fear of judgment or failure impact me I would have robbed myself of an excellent learning opportunity which is exactly why I took this class in the first place. I want to learn. I want to have actual skills and I want to be a solid resource for the folks in my community.
Pretty much from the beginning of this class I have heard from people again and again, “Oh, you’ll do fine on the state test.” “It’s easy” “So and so passed, so if he/she can you can.” “You are so smart and study so much it will be a piece of cake.”
It shouldn’t matter, but those statements have added pressure to me. For one, I have not found this to be easy. Our books is so thick and has so much information in it and nothing is textbook anyway. Every time I learn this is how it’s done they throw something else at me, under pressure and then expect me to come up with “the best” answer and that answer is never found in a book anywhere.
Let me say I am doing fine in the class. I am getting A’s on all but one test(120 questions about every 10 days) and have passed(usually by 100%) every practical station, but often I feel like I am just flying by the seat of my pants. I do study every single day and I do think I have a firm grasp on much of it, but still for me it has required that I do study and practice and ask questions..ie not easy.
I have moments of panic where I picture myself taking my test, failing and the whole class is like, “Oh my, did you hear AGirl failed?” “Wow she seemed to get it in class, she must be a real moron.” Not many of those moments, but occasionally. Usually after I do something well and several people compliment me. You would think that would build my confidence, but I am a special kind of wack-a, so it does the opposite.
The reality is that doesn’t matter. I am there to learn and grow and no matter if I look like a fool or fail or people make fun of me, I can’t let any of that get into my head and keep me from doing what I want. Keep me from reaching the goals I have set for myself.
Now, I know everyone is going to read this and say duh. Of course. Doesn’t matter what anyone thinks and blah, blah blah, but I hear almost daily about people who haven’t signed up for firearms training(training they want) because they are afraid everyone else in the class is more skilled or people who continue to take classes at their level and do not move on to more advanced courses for the same reason. People tell me again and again they are afraid to take a hand to hand or edge class because they don’t want to be “that guy” who messes everything up and fumbles around trying to figure out what to do next. I get emails every week that start something like, I wish I was more like you, but I am just too scared to take that step. My response always starts something like, “I am afraid to…” Although as I have said before not nearly as much as I used to be because I have learned the more fears I face the less scary the next one is. I recently got an email for a lady who said she really wanted to enter the giveaway, but was afraid she would win. She is serious and I can’t get her to enter. That is not a judgment that is proof that this gentle reminder needs to be put out there.
If you or I let fear, judgment, ridicule or even failure keep us from doing what we want to do to improve ourselves we are freely giving our power away and totally robbing ourselves. We say again and again I won’t let the bad guy win. He can’t have my purse, my car, my body, my life, my child, but then again and again everyday in a million different ways each day we hand over our power. Letting a thousand insecurities keep us from our goals.
My challenge to you, once again, is to think about something you want to do, but haven’t because it scares you or makes you uncomfortable and do at least one positive thing towards overcoming whatever is holding you back.
“Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.” -William Shakespeare