Employment, Law Enforcement, Leadership, Management

Major “Down in Flames” Fail



One hasty decision can lead to some really poor actions, and those actions can have consequences that will change the course of your life.

On August 17, 2015, the headline popped onto my screen: Firefighter loses $78,096 job for shoplifting $7.98 in items. The AP was reporting that a New Jersey firefighter with a serious case of the munchies shoplifted a breakfast sandwich, coffee, Gatorade and a bag of sunflower seeds.

I doubt he was able to keep the seeds, but in the off chance that he was, I hope he ate them slowly. They turned out to be the most expensive sunflower seeds in the history of mankind.

Considering munchie-man was hired in 2011 and the average tenure of a career firefighter is 26.5 years, he still had a potential of 21 to 22 years on the job. Then, calculating his salary with a modest two percent cost of living increase each year, he just threw away $2,174,580.25 not including any pension. Furthermore, considering there are approximately 9,600 sunflower seeds in a measured pound, and the most common consumer bag of seeds weighs in at two ounces, then his bag had approximately 1,200 seeds. Therefore, at a cost of $2,174,580.25, each seed came in at roughly $1,812.15.

I hope they were extra salty.

Perhaps they were those flavored ones. You know, Hot & Spicy, Barbecue, or maybe even the Jalepeño Hot Salsa… you get the picture.

We can laugh about this, but the truth behind it is tragic; that one bad decision, made in haste, can be detrimental to the future. For the leader, it is worse. A costly mistake carelessly made can not only ruin your future but destroy the livelihood of your subordinates.

In the heat of what you do, there will be moments when you are pressed to “decide quickly.” Proceed cautiously, gather as much pertinent data as you can in the time allotted, and seek council if there is time. Then, and only then, having done all that you can to explore the possibilities and (perhaps more importantly) the ramifications, make the call.

If you do it right, you may be able to relax and buy some seeds and Gatorade for the team!

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