Chikerotis: Slow the Game Down and Play Big


Photo/video via Tony Greco

At the FDIC International 2021 Opening Ceremony Day 1, Deputy District Chief (Ret.) Steve Chikerotis from the Chicago (IL) Fire Department spoke to a standing-room-only crowd in Indianapolis on “Slow the Game Down and Play Big”:

“Today’s talk is about three things: enhancing the health, success, and happiness of the most important person in the world–YOU. Is it self-centered? Aren’t we at FDIC to become better firefighters, better leaders, and better people?

“Rule #1: Never give up your mask. You find a victim. Do you give up your mask? Hell no! They do it on TV and in the movies because it looks cool and heroic for the hero. Why don’t you give up your mask in real life? At that moment in time, YOU are the most important person in world. Give up your mask and maybe you both die. The victim is not going to save you.

“So, if you’re the most important in the world, what are you doing to enhance your health, success, and happiness? Dedicate a little time each day to YOU. Staying in shape will make you a better firefighter, parent, and spouse. It’s not necessary to work out two hours a day. Walk–20 minutes of exercise pays dividends if done every day. Don’t smoke–nobody is in shape if they smoke.

“Work on your mental health. Firefighters see a lot. But you can’t move next to an airport and complain about airplane noise. We meet our customers on the worst day of their lives sometimes their last day. All of us are haunted by memories. It comes with the territory. Did you do your best?

“How do you enhance success and happiness? You are already on the right path if you start working on your physical and mental health. Quit wishing for good luck. Get off the couch and go get it! What do you want in life? Do you have goals? You need a blueprint to success.

“If you achieve health and success, it’s probably because you learned to love yourself.  Love yourself and happiness follows. I’ve been blessed with two successful careers in the fire service and the film industry. I’m just an ordinary man like you. It wasn’t due to luck.

I had help. Nobody does it on their own.

“Our ropes in life are negative people and self-doubt. Once I found the power of positivity, I shed negative people from my life. Negative people pull you down.

“Slow the game down. How did you become a firefighter? For some, it was the family business. Others like myself found fire service mentors–humble, courageous, selfless leaders. The fire service is a breeding ground for common men and women who perform uncommon acts of valor on a daily basis. The common denominator of mentors in my life are being humble, kind, caring, inspirational, and positive. Be a mentor to others.

“How do you find mentors? FDIC is a good place start. Seek them out and ask. If you want something in life, be bold enough to ask. Sometimes they find us. Put yourself in the right spot; work hard. Don’t wait on your couch.

“Keep your eye on the prize. Focus on what you want. Want to change the world? Never give up your mask. It starts with YOU. Work on YOU every day. Dream big. Write it down. Tell yourself what you want. Visualize success. Go get it!

“Only you can decide: Are you going to be the hero in your life story or the victim?

“Charles Dickens once said: The most important thing in life is to stop saying ‘I wish’ and start saying ‘I will.’

“As we walk out of this room today, we should ask ourselves: What is my action plan going to be in enhancing my health, success, and happiness? It starts today. Together, we can make your world, my world, and this world a better place.”

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