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Fire drills

Are you or someone you love suffering from Fire drills? Are you always 7 minutes late for meetings? When you apologize for lack of attentiveness, do you like to say, “Sorry, I was fighting fires?” If so, don’t worry. There’s help available.

The words we use are important. They project an image to friends, family, strangers, and in this case, co-workers. The word “fire drill” projects weakness. When used consistently, it’s project weakness and lack of preparedness. Unless you’re at an elementary school and you’re actually doing fire drills, stop using it. Unless you work for the fire department, it may be a good look to drop that phrase. If you find yourself “in firefighting mode” constantly, what does that say about your ability to plan and execute? To me, it says you do neither particularly well.

I’ve been in the workforce for 18 years. I’ve spent most of that time in the Fortune 100 or working with large NGOs. I’ve done this as an employee, consultant, or integrator. There’s always that person that’s 5 to 10 minutes late for every meeting. They’re always frazzled. Then, there’s that person, with a sense of such self-importance they think their job is more than just come to work, execute with excellence, wash, rinse, repeat. They’re so relevant to the organization that their presence is required in so many places to fix things. Without them, we’re all screwed!

Either your job is to manage situations and crises at work or you suck at your job, you’re always scrambling, and projecting weakness while you’re at it. Worse, you’re self-important and prone to dramatics. If it’s the former, you aren’t firefighting. You’re doing your job. Now if it’s the latter (you suck at your job), it may be time to invest in some new, more empowering words and attitudes. You may also want to look into time and resource management.


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