Keeping Current with the Game

It’s time again for FON’s annual training directory, and it’s also time to start thinking about both heating season and football season.

My son, who will be entering third grade in the fall, is now taking part in his first tackle football program. He finally found a sport he is genuinely excited about and that is perfectly suited for him as a bigger, but fairly lean young man. His interest in football was a welcome change from his fleeting interest with baseball last year which prompted me to get my first actual glove as a 49-year-old adult. As you might have noted, I got a bit of a late start on the whole children thing.

Since I had played football as an offense and defense lineman for seven years from junior high school to high school, I felt excited about the opportunity to help him develop his skill set as a likely lineman in a low-pressure manner, of course. If I’m going to live vicariously through his achievements, I frankly want them to be in math class.

‘Back in the day” one of my greatest attributes as a player was the fact that I trained hard and spent a great deal of time perfecting my form coming off the ball. While I started out large for my age, by my senior year in high school that was not necessarily the case. But, I was skilled at my position and my ability to apply leverage through excellent form allowed me to remain competitive.

Watching Ryan’s first day of practice was really an eye-opener, and humbling. His coaches leading the chant of ‘Low Fast, Hard!” on the training field was certainly familiar, but a whole heck of a lot has changed in the last 30 years or so about how you actually do your job as a lineman. For one thing, you can use your hands an awful lot more without getting the penalty flag tossed. While I had observed these changes taking place in the professional sport, for some reason it never really translated to me that the game had changed so much all the way down to the youth level.

So what does this have to do with heating fuels and HVAC service? For me it was an insight. It’s the realization that as the world moves forward you have to move forward with it as well. While I would consider myself an expert on how to play the line in 1983, in many ways I know no more about how to play those positions today than my eight-year-old son. So, it’s back to school for me. I will be paying just as much attention to the coaches during his practices as the kids on the field (maybe more so). I can’t help him if he needs it, without that effort.

I can only imagine how difficult it is as a technician or manager, regardless of raw competence or experience, to stay on the cutting edge of the varied disciplines in our industry. It becomes clear that there is no ability to rest on your laurels, or to assume that the old way is the best way to do it today. Technology advances at a fantastic rate in the industry, and new business opportunities are assumed regularly placing folks at square one.

Training season will start to wind down as heating season starts to wind up. However, in the remaining months there are still plenty of opportunities for managers and their technicians to learn a little bit more about the field. The cycle will begin anew as the spring sets in in 2015. While I’m certainly not the first person to point this out in the pages of FON, the fact remains that if you are not training and keeping current with the state-of-the-art on a regular basis you are being left behind. And the stakes are far higher than those on a sports field.

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