Since his early days in grade school, Rick has been an avid reader. This habit continues today, and Rick is a firm believer that leaders are readers. However, he also believes that readers are not necessarily leaders. These beliefs contribute to the story behind the book. As he progressed through the ranks at Loveland Fire Rescue Authority and gained leadership experience, Rick’s wife and daughters began to encourage him to write a book about leadership. Although the idea appealed to him, Rick falsely believed there were too many roadblocks to make it happen.
As a student of leadership, Rick continued to read, and he attended the Officer Development Program at the Rocky Mountain Fire Academy in Denver. The course was designed for fire department officers and included topics such as conflict resolution, communication, strategy and tactics, and leadership. Several of the instructors were graduates of the National Fire Academy’s (NFA) Executive Fire Officer Program and Rick saw the value of the time they invested at the NFA. Of particular interest to Rick were the discussions about leadership related to the Gettysburg Campaign of 1863.
Rick devoted a considerable amount of time visiting other fire departments to photograph their equipment and speaking with the firefighters and officers in their stations. These conversations and observations coupled with watching those he worked for and with at Loveland Fire cemented his beliefs that leadership development is an essential component for success. Also, Rick became convinced that a person serving in a position of authority is not automatically a leader.
Continuing to observe the success and failures of those he worked for, Rick cultivated the belief that leaders must spend time with their subordinates to build relationships, mentor others, and prepare people for the next step in their career. All too often that was missing with the battalion chiefs as they became consumed with project management and not leadership development. Consequently, when Rick was promoted to battalion chief, he made the commitment to spend time with his shift, learn more about them, train them as firefighters and officers, and develop them into stronger leaders. Not only did he spend time with his shift conducting training sessions and drills, but Rick would sit at the kitchen table with them over a cup of coffee discussing any topic that came up. Often, the conversation leaned towards leadership, and many began to say, “Chief, you need to write this stuff down.”
During the summer of 2017, Rick’s wife Deb asked if he had given any more consideration to writing a book. Rick said that he had been giving it more thought and Deb mentioned that she listened to an interview on the radio with a lady by the name of Polly Letofsky who owned My Word Publishing in Denver. Rick found Polly’s website and discovered that she was co-hosting a lunch and learn with Susie Schaeffer the next day on self-publishing. Rick and Deb registered for the session and by the time they left the restaurant, Rick had committed to writing a book on leadership. As the project progressed, Rick met many talented and wonderful people including Polly, Susie, and Alexandra O’Connell who was his writing coach and editor.
Rick’s approach to writing was as if he were sitting at the kitchen table, drinking a cup of coffee with a group of people, and talking about leadership. Through the book, Rick’s desire is to reach people that he will never meet, add value to their lives, and impact their leadership growth. For those who know and have worked with Rick, his intent is to continue to impact their lives and add value to them. As a Christian, this builds on one of Rick’s guiding principles from Luke 12:48, “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him, they will ask the more.” God has allowed Rick to meet and interact with a countless number of people in his lifetime, and to also experience incredible opportunities that helped him grow as a husband, father, leader, battalion chief, and Christian. There is much more to this story and Rick would love to speak with you about the writing process and how rewarding it is.