I often find myself writing on the mindset we must have, as officers, to succeed in this job. A lot of what I say and what I write is the most solid advice I can come up with in my head, advice that I often find the most trouble in following myself. As I have said before and will always continue to say, we are individuals of type-A personalities who are used to success and victory. This is an extremely positive aspect of the people I work around. However, our strongest attribute can ultimately lead to our biggest downfall. You see, with the mindset of success, failure comes like a heavy wrecking ball. It is in our best interest to never let failure become an option.
Much easier said than done. I am not such an optimist that I think you or I will never “fail”. It will happen, it has already happened. We fail in certain aspects of our job every single day. We may fail to check our magazines and ammo every day before going on duty; this, in the nature of our work, is a failure. We fail to buckle our seat belts, because of the perceived danger it can present when needing a quick exit of a vehicle; this is definitely a failure. We sometimes fail to meet the standards that our supervisors or administration put upon us. These can be considered failures in their very nature. However, it is our responsibility to turn failure into success, to orient the mind to see failures as lessons, to take failures as our own responsibility to correct.
We work in an environment where self loathing and pity has no room to exist. We must have tough skin, take metaphorical and literal blows to the chin. I am not promoting a lack of empathy or emotion, as that can only lead to a catastrophic psychological situation in an officer. I am, however, promoting a mature and professional atmosphere, where taking responsibility for our very own failures outweighs dwelling on them and allowing them to weigh us down. There is not one single officer in this country that is perfect or that has gone through his or her profession without some degree of failure. We must realize this. If you fail, it is not the end of the world and, most likely, no one else thinks of your perceived or actual failure as the big deal you have made it out to be. We are naturally going to be harder on ourselves than anyone else. This is okay, it is our way of auto-correcting our own mistakes. It is one thing to evaluate your mistakes and failures. It is a completely different thing to dwell on these failures and mistakes to the point that it affects your job performance. While self-evaluation is effective, dwelling and circular-thinking will get us nowhere at all. The more time you allow your mind to remain stagnant on your failures, is the less amount of time you have to correct or amend your mistakes. Ultimately, the quicker you take responsibility for your failures, the quicker you can move on and continue to succeed. Allow failures to be small bumps in the road, not complete road blocks that you, yourself, have ultimately created, without just cause.
Your coworkers’ reaction to your failures or mistakes lies in direct correlation to your reaction to the same. Allowing yourself to be visibly negative or stagnant upon your own actions will directly affect the way your coworkers and supervisors perceive them. You must fight past the urge to dwell and be a model of success as a result of failure. Positivity spreads, there is no point in denying that. On the flip side, negativity also spreads. The more negative your coworkers perceive your attitude toward a situation, the more negatively they will perceive it and project it back to you or others. We make our own mole hills into mountains. There comes a time when this is inappropriate and we must take those mountains and grind them back into mole hills, ultimately making them disappear. I do not mean to say that we should deny or lay completely quiet among our mistakes and failures. Acknowledge them as they are and continue on in an upward and progressive path to success.
The responsibility to never accept failure as an option, as a long-term or short-term option, is completely in your hands.