He had just three days left. Three days. After 41 years in law enforcement, Sheriff Geoff Dean was down to his last three days.
It was a Wednesday in November, 2018. A call came in. Shots fired. Five people down.
He was off duty. But as the Sheriff, there really was no off duty. He responded.
The shootings occurred at a Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, California.
And then Sheriff Dean heard what no officer wants to hear. “4Sam3 is down and he’s nonresponsive.” 4Sam3 is a sergant’s call sign.
When the dust cleared, 12 people were dead. One was 29-year veteran Sgt. Ron Helus. He left behind a wife and a son.
He was one of the first responders and rushed into the Borderline in the midst of the shooting. He ran towards the danger, and saved lives by his heroic acts.
When Sheriff Dean returned home the next evening, he was one day from retirement. He got another call.
This time his town was on fire. Literally. The fire burned over 98,362 acres and destroyed an estimated 836 structures. At least three people died. The cause of the fire is unknown.
In his best selling book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey says we should begin with the end in mind. That mental model focuses our attention on what’s important, lasting, and true. It shifts our attention from the hubbub of daily to-do lists to our legacy and purpose for being. It gives us the correct bearing.
I doubt Sheriff Dean could have imagined how his career would end 41 years earlier. But I know this. He finished the race. He ran through the tape. So did Sgt. Ron Helus.
When Sheriff Dean got home Friday evening, he and his wife had cancelled the retirement party they had planned for the next day. Instead, his last official act was to radio in he was signing off for the last time–“Car 1, 1098.”
Most of us don’t put our lives on the line when we go to work. Some of us do. But we all do important work if we make it important. If we see it as important and perform it accordingly.
And Some day we will sign off for the last time. What legacy will you have left? How many people will you have helped? Will you have left your part of the world better than you found it? And will you have run through the tape, or coasted the last several yards?
Car 1, 1098.