Heart, when you think of it as a core value, can have a complicated definition. This idea was never complicated or confusing for me. Instilled in me as a young Firefighter, was this idea of Heart, it is impossible to teach, not everyone has it, and everyone can point out the people that do.
You need to start somewhere, and my start as a brand new firefighter at 19 years old started at Avila Beach, at the Avila Valley Fire Station. I was a Paid Call Firefighter, it was a part time position, and a great way to get my foot in the door. Something that was different about Avila, was their rigorous mandatory 6 month testing and probation. Every month had a different topic, and there were stressful written and physical tests that accompanied. Usually, you see this at an academy for a full-time job, however at this department, the standards were high. Out of 5, only 3 of us made it through.
I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I started. I was absolutely in over my head and looking back, probably shouldn’t have passed. The other potential firefighters that were in my class that passed were older than I, fitter, and about to graduate Cal Poly as Foresters. The things that I had going for me was perseverance and unwillingness to fail. I decided the person I wanted to be was on the other end of this, and I spent all my free time at the Fire Station studying, asking questions, and drilling on topics I was weakest at. One of my Fire Captains saw my effort and my struggle and offered to help with my training. He explained what Heart was, and that he saw it with my actions and took me under his wing. Heart is perseverance through it all. When you are exhausted mentally and physically and you have nothing left, heart is what gets us there. It’s a mindset of mental resilience. You cannot give up even when faced with many obstacles and failures. You may not have the skills, or the fortitude right now, but you will find a way no matter what. With Heart, you always win in the end.
The Idea of Heart has had such a huge impact in my life, it is the 2nd idea of Solid Core. It has brought me through a lot and will continue to do so through my life. I search out the people with heart in my daily life, and surround myself with as many people as I can with it. You will find that all of our coaches have it, in their own way, and they are all using it to better everyone around them.