Heros, Leaders and Industry Involvement

Heroes, Leaders and Industry Involvement
— By Ron Davis in ESX Newsline, July, 2010

Is there a speech delivered, an article published…even a story written about giving and getting back in our industry?  By giving, I refer to being involved and helping out.  By getting, I refer to that dubious, often times unbelieved maxim, “Everything that happens in the universe is as the result of cause and effect; do something good, and something good comes back to you.”  A lot of people have trouble believing that, and I think I understand why…it seems too easy. Too obvious. Too simple to accomplish. And yet, it’s been around since the beginning of time. So, in answer to the question, in the beginning of this article, here we are.
Now, as to the title, heroes and leaders? Let’s start with the heroes. It’s been often said that “there are no heroes in foxholes”.  Picking up a live grenade and throwing it out of harms way. Helping a fallen comrade to safety. Taking charge when a leader has fallen. And so forth. These are the heroes of the military, and almost invariably, they’ve become the leaders in the public sector. So I guess the equation might be leaders equal heroes, equal extraordinary people. 
Years ago, when I was a teenager, my then girlfriend, later to become my wife, Beverly, and I and another couple were out in a rowboat in the middle of a lake. Somehow (I think we were fooling around) we lost an oar, and it started drifting away before we could reach it. Being not a hero, but rather a showoff, I jumped into the water and started swimming towards the oar, which by that time had drifted maybe 50 yards away. I swam towards it, only to realize that there was a strong current that had grabbed hold of the oar, and was pulling it away faster than I could swim. With an extra burst of speed, I got to the oar, grabbed it, cradled it in my arm and started side paddling back to the boat…which incidentally had also started drifting. The boat was now a fair distance away, about the distance that I could swim if I hadn’t been tired and I hadn’t been cradling an oar. I started inching my way back towards the boat and when I got about 20 yards away, I knew, deep down, that I wasn’t going to make it.  I knew I was going to be sick, and I thought that this was the end.
Nothing dramatic, just simply, a statement of stupidity and fact. But then, a strange thing happened. My soon to be wife, realizing that I was in trouble, without any hesitation jumped into the water and started swimming towards me. She got to me, and we both treaded there…me choking, her panicking. I realized that if she weren’t going to drown also, I had to do something and, somehow, together we started swimming back towards the boat. Me, the showoff, her the hero.
Meanwhile, the other couple, seeing all of this from the boat, reacted by yelling to another rowboat of people on the other side, about what was happening and somehow or other an oar was thrown from the other boat to the rowboat that I had left, and my friend started rowing fiercely toward Beverly and I who were gasping what I believed to be our last breaths.  He got there, pulled Beverly out of the water, and somehow or other draped me over the side of the boat in a manner that allowed me to at least catch my breath. Together, those two, saved my life.  Were they heroes? Certainly Beverly was, she narrowly risked her life, but did it without hesitation, unthinkingly. Later, as I continued to build several businesses, several of which were destined to failure, the same quality that caused her to jump in the water, was there to provide stability for the company, both in times of growth, as well as in times of need. The hero became a leader!
There is another way for leaders to accomplish what they set out to do, other than saving lives.  Leaders are not born (well, yes, they are born, but I’m not sure you can identify the one out of ten babies who is destined to be a leader!).  No, they are made. They are made by what they give and what they get. They are made because they do the things that ordinary people simply don’t like to do or know how to do.  In this industry, leaders contribute.They participate in industry activities. They give of themselves and of their human and financial resources. Look at industry leaders that we know and see on a regular basis. John Murphy at Vector. Mel Mahler at ADS. Bob Bonifas at Alarm Detection. Les Gold, industry attorney. These people didn’t get to the top simply by doing their job well…they got to the top because they jumped in and did things that helped the industry grow.  I’m sure each person reading this could add dozens of names to the list of leaders, and all of them would be accurate. Do we think of them as heroes? Well maybe, just a little, but perhaps not in the dramatic fashion that we would consider someone who ran into a burning house…took someone out of a mangled car accident…jumped in the water to save a drowning man.  Nevertheless, these leaders are our industry’s heroes. They are my heroes!
How do you become a hero in this industry? Just like being a hero in combat, it won’t happen if you seek it out. But if you keep giving and contributing to the industry of which we are all a part, some day, in some way it will come back to you in a manner totally unexpected. An award, a letter from your contemporaries or financial gain for you and your company.
Be an alarm industry hero…contribute your time, your resources, your ideas and your good will.  Be an enabler, not a dis-abler. And when you least expect it, it will come back to you ten times over.