Was thinking this past week about these two types of interesting people in the world – fire-fighters and fire-starters:
These are the people that keep the peace. They keep the status quo. They stop things from getting out of hand, keeping an even keel to the ship. They follow the rules, even maybe helping other people keep the rules. They police the system, making sure that nothing or no one is upset. They value peace, teamwork, structure, framework, processes and do their homework before making a decision. Expect things to get done not to necessarily improve, as the word “risk” is not in their vocabulary.
These people are the troublemakers. They like to keep things interesting, so they push boundaries and challenge the way things have always been done. They are often characterized as rebels, valuing team but sometimes forge ahead alone to pursue a good idea. They often move hastily, often being attracted to what is shiny. They are inventive and creative, never totally happy or satisfied. If there was an instruction manual, they haven’t opened it – they are smart enough to figure it out without help of a book.
You need both types in your volunteer base. You need firefighters who help enforce the rules and maintain some semblance of order. You need firestarters to keep things fun and interesting (and to relate to junior highers – ha!). If you are a firefighter, recruit some firestarters to help you loosen up. If you’re already pretty loose, find a few straight arrows to help you keep control.
Just remember that your style will often frustrate the other type because you are each “undoing” the specialty of the other.
Do either of these describe you? I think I might be a fire-starter myself.