A Grass Hut, a Firetruck, and Cigarettes – The Day I Quit Smoking Cold Turkey




We do not remember days, we remember moments. – Cesare Pavese

It was in the early 1970’s and I was in my early teens. On a hot summer day a friend and I walked up to the local 7 Eleven to buy some cigarettes. I know, I know– but back in that day it was not illegal to buy or sell them.

We were out in the big field behind our homes sitting in a grass hut we had made enjoying the Marlboro’s- when suddenly I felt a swift foot in my back. I turned in time to see flames engulfing the hot dry hut we had built. I got out just in time.

Our futile efforts to stomp out the fire led us to make the only logical decision we could make in our moment of desperation – run!

My friend ran one way, I another. It was not part of any strategic plan- it’s just the way it happened.  As I ran with all my might I recall seeing the blur that was my house. I kept running.  The local fire station that sat next to the 7 Eleven responded with one of their trucks. Our paths crossed briefly as the truck rolled past me. Fortunately, the fire was contained and no injury to property or life ensued.

Life experiences have a way of helping us put leadership lessons in perspective. Here are my three takeaway from the day I quit smoking cold turkey.

With the right motivation you can do anything!

My motivation to stop smoking was brought about not by a fancy ad campaign or regulations that came in later years. It was much more personal. If the motivation is right you can do anything you set your heart and mind to. You can achieve any goal or dream you desire if you don’t give up. You just have to find that tipping point and the right motivation.

If you play with fire you can get burned

The matches and cigarettes on a hot summer day were the perfect ingredients for disaster. As leaders; often it’s the little things that trip us up. Little things like attitude that will make you or break you. It’s the way you relate to and treat people that make a difference. If you are a jerk – you are playing with fire and eventually you’ll get burned.

Not everyone who kicks you in your backside is your enemy

As I sat in that grass hut oblivious to the danger around me, it was a hard kick in the back that got me out in time. Your growth as a leader is up to you. Not everyone who slaps you on the back is necessarily your friend and not everyone who kicks you in the back is your enemy. As you grow as a leader you will learn to figure it out.

In hindsight, I’m glad I quit smoking cold turkey.


© 2015 Doug Dickerson






About dougdickerson

I am Certified Leadership Trainer, author, columnist, and speaker. Husband to Alicia, father to Katelyn and Kara, and "Pop" to terrific grandson Tyson. I am an avid photographer, love the outdoors, and like to travel. I'm passionate about sharing my leadership insights and helping people reach their full potential.
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