First Responders: The Living Challenge

| March 9, 2020

“You are undoubtably highly skilled on the job, but I challenge you to step out of your First Responder role and look at your life through a different prism. We believe that it is high time we focus on the person living inside the uniform. ” ~ E. R. Haas & Faith Wood


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for People in Uniform Who Are Stressed to the Max Right Now!

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from Merely Inspired and Motivated to Exceptionally
Well TRAINED in the Intentional Pursuit of Excellence.


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The Living Challenge: It’s A Matter of Priorities…

There are many issues facing today’s network of first responders: Unusually high turnover, lower retention rates, a workforce afflicted by PTSD and clinical depression to name just a few. There is no magic potion to cure these growing concerns but there is a positive way to address the underlying causes.

The solution is to shift the work-life balance line by moving the fulcrum a little closer to Home Life vs. Work Life.

When we make our personal lives as important as our work lives — focusing more on the person instead of the badge — we develop the inner-strength necessary to handle both more effectively.

In other words, we live a life worth living at work AND at home.

Tremendous resources are invested to make our first responders highly skilled on the job, but little is invested in tools and tech to help them lead more rewarding lives. So, we are proposing a Living Challenge to empower the fearless men and women on the front line to look at their personal lives from a fresh new perspective.

The challenge, of course, is to have a life OFF the job better than the life you have ON the job.

We call this becoming a Success… and doing it On Purpose.

For some, this will be easy as they have already achieved a nice work/life balance. But for others, this may well be their biggest challenge ever!

Charles Darwin said it best, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” Put another way, you either quickly adapt or die.

First responders not only know this, but they also live it each day. They have developed incredible job skills and perform with honor and dedication. But what happens at the end of the shift when they try to turn off the job and embrace “real” life?

What life… or maybe the broader question might be, WHO am I and what am I to DO with the one life I have to live?

No question, you already know who you are and what to do on the job. But the much bigger question is, “what does life look like when you are off the job?”

Put another way, the real question is, “Are you a Purpose-Driven Success?”

When we created TQ some 25 years ago we approached the success/fail question as a matter of personal productivity, efficiency, and effectiveness. Our desire was to train people to work smarter and produce far greater results… and do it in much less time. The mandate was to create a systematic approach to personal performance that would permit people to achieve all their dreams and goals in less time and with less hassle.

The result of years of research is a simple TQ Test that breaks your performance into 10 broad color-coded areas, and within each area, the 10 factors that drive the intensity of that color. In a few minutes, you can see exactly which area of your performance is strong and vibrant and which is weak and faded. You may take this test free of charge at (You will find it to be a truly eye-opening experience!)

Cutting to the chase, this is what the median TQ scores reveal from around 100 Million data points…

Is it any wonder that people are stressed-out… burned-out… and running on empty?!

While everyone is completely different, this chart gives you the gist. People, by and large, have a good Attitude (7), a solid ability to create interpersonal Synergy (7), are well Organized (6), and do OK in the Time Management color: Optimize (5).

However, a Mission score of 3 (should be 9 or 10) holds them back from Setting Goals (4), Making Plans (2), and Prioritizing their actions (4), which translates into a poor Act Now score, just of 4 out of 10.

This is the typical profile of a person who has generally good skills but is wasting them on things that simply do not matter. At best they are running at 30-40% of their full potential.

Yes, this might seem like a clinical view of performance excellence but it represents a wonderful benchmark for effective improvement. Think of your TQ score as a forward indicator of success in the same way you see your blood pressure as a benchmark of heart health.

Even worse are the folks who rarely take their blood pressure — they could be at catastrophic risk and are clueless. Knowing your TQ score is equally important if you are committed to maximizing your potential.

Why? Because the INTENTIONAL pursuit of EXCELLENCE trumps the ACCIDENTAL acceptance of MEDIOCRITY!

“There are countless ways of achieving greatness, but any road to achieving one’s maximum potential must be built on a bedrock of respect for the individual, a commitment to excellence, and a rejection of mediocrity.” ~ Buck Rodgers, IBM

When we wrote The Power of TQ and 10 Choices of Intentional Excellence (the world’s first and only custom published, made to order, 172-page book all about you, only you) we made the stunning observation that there is a huge difference between people who find enduring success and people who work their hearts out and still fail. With tens of millions of test results we know, with statistical precision, that the difference is this…

People who succeed EXPECT to succeed…
People who fail don’t EXPECT to succeed in the first place…

Why? Because they never even get to the Starting Point for enduring success either personally or professionally. Lacking direction, passion, and a burning sense of purpose they fail to live up to expectations at work AND at home.

Without a burning sense of MISSION, especially in your personal life, you will work harder and harder and yet success will still move further and further away from you. Which explains why most people are more successful at work because they have been given a crystal-clear MISSION — in the case of a First Responder — To Protect and Serve.

The key to success off the job is to create an equally compelling Mission that unites who you are, what you do, and how you do it. Again, this is an INTENTIONAL Pursuit of Excellence issue. Without intentionality, mediocrity just takes over and your home life suffers at the expense of your work life. (We see this as the constant struggle of your shifting BALANCE line.)

“If you know the point of balance, You can settle the details. If you can settle the details, You can stop running around. Your mind will become calm. If your mind becomes calm, You can think in front of a tiger. If you can think in front of a tiger, You will surely succeed.” ~ Mencius

Which now leads us to the heart of the matter!

And a much bigger question, “What’s the Starting Point for a life of happiness, satisfaction, and significance?”

This, as it turns out, is a life and death question.

Since none of us are getting out of this life alive, the real question is, “what are we willing to die for each day?”

In looking at millions of color scores we saw an amazing connection between overall success in life (money, power, freedom, career growth, etc.) and the intensity of a person’s Mission color. In fact, we wrote an entire training regimen around this called Success On Purpose.

With a mountain of research behind us, we found that there is a fundamental truth about success — personally and professionally.

The truth is that there are just 3 variables that control everything you will ever be, do, or have in life.

These 3 variables are responsible for setting the Authentic Direction in your life and create a direct path to your Natural Mission. Instead of dying a little bit each day, these 3 variables guarantee that you live life to the fullest.

Please take a moment to look at the simplicity of the above graphic.

As you can see, success is not a matter of philosophy or theology but of simple geometry! Highly successful people are guided by an intense sense of personal values and can recite their top 10 forward and backward. What are your top 10 personal values, values that are uniquely personal, not derived from what your job or organization dictates?

1______________ 2______________ 3______________4______________ 5______________

6______________ 7______________ 8______________ 9______________ 10______________

If you are to LIVE what’s most important you have to actually KNOW what’s most important.

As it turns out, for most people —especially people in challenging jobs where the organization dictates the values — this is remarkably difficult to do. It seems simple, but since your entire life depends on you actually KNOWING them, not just accepting what someone at some time told you to value, we find that this is the first big CHALLENGE you must overcome.

Now, connect the dots to an entire series of VISIONS that actually permit you to LIVE those values…

What are your dreams and goals for your family… your friends… your community? How do you see life in 5, 10, 25 years from now? Put simply, how do you want to spend the one life you have to live?

Please take a moment to look at your values and tell me what your Someday Dreams are. Be honest.

Someday I will ______________ Someday I will get  _______________ Someday I will have _______________

Someday I will be _____________ Someday I will learn ______________ Someday I will go_____________

While simple enough in concept, we have found that it is VERY difficult for people to disconnect from the job to look at the fullness of their lives through the Someday Prism. This is the second big CHALLENGE. Again, this is why we created Success On Purpose.


The third big CHALLENGE, Perhaps the most difficult to resolve. We have found that the golden key to success is found in the ROLES you will play to achieve your VISIONS and to live your VALUES.

Roles are the parts you play in life: Husband/Wife, brother/sister, son/daughter, father/mother, hunter/boater/adventurer/etc. No question, if you are to live BIG values and achieve HUGE visions you must put yourself in the RIGHT role to make it happen. Sorting this out for real is challenging for even the most well-balanced among us!

For a simple start, what Roles do you currently play, or want to play? Look to your Someday Dreams and create a big enough Role to achieve them.

1______________ 2______________ 3______________4______________ 5______________

6______________ 7______________ 8______________ 9______________ 10______________

Now For The Actual Living Challenge!

As we said above, the challenge is to have a life OFF the job better than the life you have ON the job. This takes exceptional personal power… what we call The Power of TQ.

To live large you cannot play small.

To live a life of happiness, satisfaction, and significance requires you to triangulate your missions in time. As should be obvious by now, a person with BIG values, BIG visions, and BIG roles requires substantially more POWER (a bigger TQ Score) than someone with BIG values, LITTLE visions, and is playing a TINY role at this time. (Why worry about power when you are in a puny role that has little influence on your goals?)

Or a person with a HUGE world-changing vision but has no power to achieve it because they are in the wrong role or is supported by an organization with the wrong values. You can clearly see the issue in this graphic…

To succeed then, you must constantly raise your expectations for what is possible in your life by expanding your visions, empowering bigger roles, and connecting your personal values with your organization’s values.

A disconnect here spells death.

Yes, we are being a bit dramatic but the point is, if you are not living up to your full potential each day, you are simply committing slow-motion suicide… dying a bit inside each day rather than living life full-tilt, flat out, both personally and professionally.

“High Expectations are the Key to Everything.” ~ Sam Walton, Founder Walmart

“High Expectations Demand Brilliant Execution.” ~ E. R. Haas, CEO, Author, Serial Entrepreneur

Your Challenge…

We began this piece with the notion that you have been trained, coached, mentored, educated, and tested to become the best First Responder possible. The challenge is for you to become the best YOU possible… to live a thrilling, joyful, engaging, and satisfying life OFF the job.

Not to sacrifice you in the process of becoming a great Cop, Fireman, EMT, etc. — but to create BALANCE between the PERSON you see in the mirror at HOME with the person you see in UNIFORM.

There is a hard way to do this and an easy way.

The hard way is to spend years dancing around the subject, never confronting the real drivers of success, and just hoping for things to change on their own. This is the failed strategy that ultimately turns gloom into doom robbing you of a life worth living. Doing nothing means as life goes downhill. so do you.

The easy way is to fully engage Success On Purpose, do the work, resolve the core issues now, and live the life you are entitled to live.  Sign up, follow directions, and you will be at the Starting Point for making the REST of your life the BEST of your life.

It doesn’t matter if you are on the firing line, or a 911 dispatcher… a manager or a captain… even the mayor of a major city. The challenge is exactly the same as we see in all other occupations (albeit, blood is not drawn in the boardroom of Apple!)

It is up to you to accept the Living Challenge… or quietly live with the status quo. If that’s your choice, OK. But don’t expect people to listen when you sing the same sad songs over and over.

It is your choice to benchmark where you are right now, and where you want to go. (If your TQ Score is under 75, this should give you stunning insight. This would be like your Doctor advising you that your blood pressure is 188/71 with a pulse of 54… a warning sign for sure!)

As you can tell, we are the only people with a scientific, systematic, procedural process of self-measurement, self-evaluation, and self-improvement. TQ is the Gold Standard measurement of your practical Working Intelligence. TQ measures how smart you ACT, not how smart you ARE. (For this discussion assume your IQ and EQ are good enough because they are!)

We hope we gave you some useful advice prior to our speaking to your organization. We focus entirely on methods and momentum, not forgettable motivation and inspiration.

You becoming the best YOU possible is inspiring and motivating enough.

You living your best life on and off the job is thrilling enough.

We just need to give you the tools and tech to make the Living Challenge a little less challenging:)

Expect Success,

E. R. Haas, CEO, Serial Entrepreneur, Author

Faith Wood is a communication and presentation specialist.  She holds the designation of Certified Professional Speaker (CSP) – a title earned by less than 10% of professional speakers worldwide.  She is also an award-winning novelist.

Faith worked as a First Responder for almost 16 years.   During that time, she realized how important it is to know what you are working for and developing team excellence.

Since hanging up the handcuffs, she has traveled the world, helping people all along the way better understand their behaviors, and how they impact others. Wood has revealed to thousands how to influence daily actions, which in turn, offers a new way of thinking and leads to a more fulfilling life.

There is no doubt that she leaves a lasting impression on everyone she touches.

Faith is a mother of four, grandmother to 7 and wife to one.  She lives with her husband in Coldstream, B.C


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About the Author ()

E. R. Haas is CEO of the TQ Smart family of web sites including,,,, and hundreds of others.E. R. is a "serial entrepreneur" and has created over 20 different businesses in software, manufacturing, finance, publishing and many other areas.He is married to Jan Haas who shares his interest in model railroading, gardening, and traveling by train. Together, they have 5 grown children, 9 grandchildren, and 6 great-grandchildren.

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