Light A Fire Under Your Business

I have a deep respect for the leadership and teamwork embodied by Navy SEALS, Olympic athletic teams, and firefighters. That's why I find the new book, Light A Fire Under Your Business: How to Build a Class 1 Corporate Culture Through Inspirational Leadership, so interesting.

In the book, former Los Angeles Fire Department Captains turned business executives Tom Pandola and James W. Bird share principles for management, leadership and success that have the power to continuously improve business operations, personnel motivation, and the bottom line.

The stories they tell in the book are actual experiences. And, it's these stories of their past experiences that acted as a practical classroom in which they learned the principals that have served them well in firefighting, subsequently in business, and in life in general. More specifically, they learned and applied these lessons over nearly 50 combined years of fire service careers, and used them successfully in nearly 30 combined years in business.

"Surviving and producing success in firefighting is essentially about being continuously aware of the situation and, when necessary, being prepared to respond in extraordinary ways," explains Pandola. "Principles in firefighting compel leaders to inspire their followers to think of success and not even consider failure as an option."

Light a Fire Under Your Business is organized in three sections:

  1. Improve Your Process
  2. Empower Your People
  3. Transform Your Culture  

You will learn about fire-tested and business-proven principles of management, leadership, and success, including: 
  • The true value of a shared mission statement.
  • Building and earning trust to become an influential leader.
  • The importance of two-way communications to take command and lead with vision.
  • Methods of planning, review, and revision that can contribute to continuous improvement.
  • How to create and maintain high-performance teams.
  • Ten success orders for business firefighting; how to safely and effectively deal with crises in your organization or environment.
  • How to inspire success in your teams and organization.

Tom Pandola

Some of my favorite takeaways from the book include:
  • A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don't necessarily want to go, but ought to be.
  • Your people can't believe in a foundational mission if it hasn't been defined by a well-written statement. They won't even think about it if it is too long, making it too difficult to remember.
  • Leaders must always define success before engaging any opportunity. This is because success is very hard to find if you don't, first, know what it looks like.
  • CPR for business creates a culture where people respond with a focused will-do attitude because they know that what they do is important, and doing their best always matters to someone.
  • People + Desire + Trusted Leadership = Teamwork
  • Your vision should be communicated in a present-tense, powerful, and positive language to indicate a desired future reality.
  • Meaningful mission, vision, and values statements give meaning to the principle of doing the right things for the right reasons and at the right time.
  • Goal setting is a powerful process that allows you to find your focus and turns visualization into reality.
  • If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader (John Quincy Adams).


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