Keep Your Fire Burning

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You know that feeling the first time you found yourself out in the woods completely out of your element and the temperature dropped to below freezing.  Your face and hands started becoming numb. The only chance to make it through the night was to try and start a fire, but how? When you started looking for fire wood you realized most of the wood was damp from the rain the night before.

Without that fire your chance of survival is poor at best. As your hands and fingers get completely numb you start attempting every and anything possible to get that fire going, dried pine needles, scraping off tree bark hoping the wood beneath might still be dry. 

After making a small pile of kindling you continue trying to ignite the pile. Match after match. By now you’re not even thinking about the cold. Your completely focused on getting a fire started. 

Then suddenly you see a little smoke. You very carefully blow, puff, in the direction of the smoke’s heart. Now a tiny flame starts glowing. It’s not the fire you need but it’s a start.

As you gently care for that glow other small flames start coming up from other parts of your pile.

Your excitement grows so big you actually start feeling warm. Your focus relaxes as the flames get bigger. Now you kick back thinking all is well… Wrong thing to do.

That fire isn’t going to grow on its own you have to be diligent and keep tending to the fire if you want it to sustain you through the night. So you carefully keep working the fire.

The bigger the fire the less you need to worry and tend to it but periodically you still need to feed the fire. If you don’t that fire will just die out and take the warmth of the flames with it. If that happens, you’d be back to freezing and wouldn’t make it through the night.

Staying alive in the beginning took a hard work and some clever problem solving. The rest of the night took paying attention to flames and the strength of the fire. Once the sun came up you made it. Well until the next cold night rolled in. But at least this time you will have all that experience to make the night less terrifying.


Pretty much everything. Go back and reread it as a metaphor for starting and growing your career. Building a fire, Building a career.

In the beginning of your career you could pretty much get caught off guard. You’re going along and assuming work will find you or finding it is going to be easy.

Then the lean times show up (night) and you find yourself unprepared. (the cold sets in)

You never thought about how would you actually find work or survive.  Once the realization hit, “Oh Shit!”, “I gotta find work or I’m not going to make it”.

Since you’ve never found yourself in this position before and things keep getting worse, the panic sets in. You realize if you don’t start scrambling to figure out how to survive you’re not going to make it.

I think you can walk through the rest of metaphor by yourself.

The good news is you’re not in the wilderness.  There are people, professionals, all around you who can show you how to get the fire started, “your career”. Once you get it going, the key to sustain that success is to keep “feeding” your career.

Growing your skills, experience and your network is a never-ending task. Our industries are constantly changing and growing at high speed.  Keeping up with those changes is what separates the successful from the almost successful.

Most of us who have stayed the course and continue to grow with the industry find the changes and growth exciting and rewarding. We actually get bored if the industry isn’t challenging us to step up and get better.

“Keep your powder dry and axe edge sharp” and you’ll do just fine. LOLOL

(yea I lived in Wisconsin for a while)

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