BUY NOW - $25
Buy Now - $25


By Mark vonAppen

The following is an excerpt from the Introduction of Firefighter Success.

The legendary basketball coach of the UCLA Bruins, John Wooden, was a stickler for routine. Wooden coached The Bruins to 10 national championships from 1948-1975, and they didn’t happen by accident. The streak of championships included seven consecutive titles, a feat that might not ever be equaled.  

Wooden believed so deeply in the power of preparation that he left no detail to chance. To some, his style may have seemed maniacal and all-consuming, but his methods achieved unimaginable results. At the beginning of each season, Wooden would instruct all of his players, from the high school recruit to the most decorated senior, on how to properly put on their socks and shoes.

“I think it’s the little things that really count. The first thing I would show our players at our first meeting was how to take a little extra time putting on their shoes and socks properly. ‘The most important part of your equipment is your shoes and socks. You play on a hard floor. So you must have shoes that fit right. You must not permit your socks to have wrinkles around the little toe; where you generally get blisters, or around the heels.’  

“It took just a few minutes, but I did show my players how I wanted them to do it. ‘Hold up the sock, work it around the little toe area and the heel area so that there are no wrinkles. Smooth it out good. Then hold the sock up while you put the shoe on. The shoe must be spread apart; not just pulled on by the top laces. You tighten it up snugly by each eyelet. Then you tie it. Then you double-tie it so it won’t come undone; because I don’t want shoes coming untied during practice or during a game.’

“I’m sure that once I started teaching that, years ago, that we cut down on blisters. It definitely helped. But that’s just a little detail that coaches must take advantage of, because it’s the little details that make the big things come about.”

-Coach John Wooden

Success in the fire service, as in sports, is no accident. And success in both arenas is measured by our wins and losses. As a firefighter, achieving it is a continuous process that requires an unwavering dedication to the details. And it doesn’t come without deliberate planning and preparation. 

Each of us must have the Coach Wooden mindset about “the little things,” which includes putting on our socks and pulling up our boots properly. Whether we are the rookie or the senior firefighter, we will own our roles and responsibilities, down to the smallest detail. For the former, this may mean learning how to turn out and mask up quickly, and, for the latter, it might mean mentoring the next generation. Wherever we are in our journeys, it is critical that we first invest in ourselves if we are to be the best firefighter and team member that we can be. In essence, we must first lead ourselves.

Firefighting is a team sport, and our team must be able to fully depend on us. Success is determined by whether or not our teammates can count on us to deliver. Trust, reliability, and our individual contributions are what will ensure the team’s success. As a team, we all must see things through the same eyes; believing in the oneness that is created through a grinding dedication to the mission and to one another. It is through a mutually agreed upon belief system that guarantees everyone’s success.

I first came to know Jim for his role with Firefighter Functional Fitness, where his passion for helping firefighters was obvious. As I have gotten to know him more, I will tell you that he is someone who exemplifies leadership, ownership, and character. All of the principles that he shares in this book aren’t merely theory or suggestions—he lives them out on a daily basis. Jim is a man of action who leads by example—exactly what the fire service needs. 

With Firefighter Success, Jim provides a step-by-step guide to help every firefighter prepare for a successful and rewarding career in the fire service. Its 20 principles are the foundation to every firefighter’s journey to excellence. The simple, yet timeless wisdom contained within provides the details to winning as a firefighter. 

Don’t just read this book and put it on the shelf. Use it as motivation. Use it to develop self-discipline. Use it to build the habits of excellence which all successful firefighters possess. Most importantly, use it as a guide to becoming the best firefighter that you can possibly be. Absorb it, own it, and live it. 

Finally, and most importantly:

Do your job.
Treat people right.
Give all-out effort.
Have an all-in attitude.

Mark vonAppen

Palo Alto Fire Department (CA)

Founder and Owner – Fully Involved

Continue Reading Firefighter Success
Privacy Settings
We use cookies to enhance your experience while using our website. If you are using our Services via a browser you can restrict, block or remove cookies through your web browser settings. We also use content and scripts from third parties that may use tracking technologies. You can selectively provide your consent below to allow such third party embeds. For complete information about the cookies we use, data we collect and how we process them, please check our Privacy Policy
Consent to display content from - Youtube
Consent to display content from - Vimeo
Google Maps
Consent to display content from - Google
Consent to display content from - Spotify
Sound Cloud
Consent to display content from - Sound