Colorado Firecamp sees a model worth following
in Chris Lowney's account of the Jesuit leadership style. The Jesuits
live by the ideal of magis - Latin for ‘always something
more’ - and they have delivered on a promise of ‘more than
Chris Lowney spent 7 years as a Jesuit priest before
embarking on a distinguished career as an investment banker for J.P.
account of the Jesuits' 450-year history presents a number of parallels
to today's wildland fire service.
The early Jesuits put a high value on mobility - at a
time when people rarely ventured 10 miles beyond their birthplace. The
priests submitted themselves to go on what were the first ‘all-risk’
assignments, wherever the Pope had need of them - kind of like carrying
a fire pager or listing yourself as ‘available’
They promised to literally drop whatever they were doing
and go anywhere in the world on 48 hours notice.
The dispatch timeframe for firefighters is shorter today.
But then, we are not generally the first to make a map of where we are
going, nor do we typically face a year-long voyage to get there.
The Jesuits also embraced diversity (of a gender-monolithic
sort) by accepting candidates rejected by other religious orders: those
from peasant families, different nationalities and new converts to Christianity.
Today's wildfires are fought by men and women; agency folks and contractors;
volunteers and inmates; and from countries where firefighters are called
bombero and pompier.
The Jesuits recruited ‘as
many as possible, of the very best.’
However, they didn't stop there. They built the finest educational system
the world had ever seen, just so they could develop their own people
into leaders. That's similar to what's taking place with the NWCG training
programs. We have a ways to go on the leadership part, but progress
is being made.
Lowney describes the ‘four
pillars’ of Jesuit leadership as:
self-awareness, ingenuity, love and heroism.
- Self-awareness: “To order
“Leaders thrive by understanding
who they are and what they value, by becoming aware of unhealthy
blind spots or weaknesses that can derail them, and by cultivating
the habit of continuous reflection and learning.”
- Ingenuity: “The whole world
will become our house”
“Leaders make themselves and
others comfortable in a changing world. They eagerly explore new
ideas, approaches and cultures rather than shrink defensively from
what lurks around life's next corner. Anchored by nonnegotiable
principles and values, they cultivate the ‘indifference’
that allows them to adapt confidently.”
- Love: “With
greater love than fear”
“Leaders face the world with
a confident, healthy sense of themselves as endowed with talent,
dignity, and the potential to lead. They find exactly these same
attributes in others and passionately commit to honoring and unlocking
the potential they find in themselves and in others. They create
environments bound and energized by loyalty, affection, and mutual
- Heroism: “Eliciting
“Leaders imagine an inspiring
future and strive to shape it rather than passively watching the
future happen around them. Heroes extract gold from the opportunities
at hand rather than waiting for golden opportunities to be handed