The Meaning of a Uniform
Whilst these responses are not wrong, they miss the point as they tend to focus the intent towards the industry, i.e. as hard as it is to hear, we can be somewhat self-serving. I would strongly argue that if you put on a uniform with a badge on each shoulder that represents a PF&ES organisation in Australia, you are asking someone to trust you, both personally and organisationally.
In this country when we put on a uniform, we have the great privilege of assuming an automatic level of trust between those that we aim to serve and ourselves.
Where does trust begin?
Generally, we are very quick to place the burden of trust onto someone else, but in reality, it has to start with self. If you do not trust yourself, and you do not have a personal and informed view of what trust looks like for you, then you will struggle to honour the code of a uniform.
How important is it?
Trust is hard work. It forces us to maintain our integrity at all times. It insists that our words and our actions always align. It demands that we have sufficient humility to acknowledge when we are wrong or when we have wronged others and to forgive ourselves or seek the forgiveness of others. It requires us to exercise the courage to speak to the truth of a matter regardless of the personal cost to our egos. It expects us to derive our thoughts, words and actions from a motivation for the benefit of others and insists that our agenda is clear, unambiguous and open for all to see. It accepts nothing less than exemplary behaviour towards others.
How trust holds us to account
My personal experiences over the past 33 years have taught me many things, and perhaps the most important lesson has been to trust myself. I have also come to realise how critically important trust is to all of us as managers and leaders. Despite the odds, the unfolding adversities, and what has been presented before me that appeared to be defeating and hopeless, I have learned to trust what my intuition tells me, to check that my deepest motivation has integrity and is ethical, and I have the confidence to act on it.
I have come to realise that the ability to trust myself in such dire circumstances had always resided within me, but without reflection and contemplation, it was never going to surface, and I would have missed the opportunity to take away something positive from a situation that looked to be anything but. This lesson was to play out time and time again throughout my career.