Never Let Failure Become an Option

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. 

Is Law Enforcement the Right Job for You?

There is no doubt in my mind that law enforcement isn’t the job for everyone. Accounting isn’t the job for everyone, the medical field isn’t the job for everyone. Each person, by their individual characteristics and personalities, fits into their very own profession, in their own unique way. However, it is up to you to decide which one of these professions fulfills your passions and desires. We often find ourselves striving for goals or professions that our mothers and fathers have previously, or currently, hold. It is not wrong to be interested or intrigued or driven to these professions and life styles. What we must realize, is that we, as individuals, may very well hold goals and aspirations that go “against the mold”. 

I find myself, sometimes, second guessing and/or re-evaluating my career path, my career choice. This is due to a variety of factors, much of which lies in self-doubt. It is too easy to become our own biggest critic, assuming that non-success is linked to not being “made for the job”. In periods of stagnant professional growth or success, we can find ourselves in a position where we think of what life would be like in another profession. We may even ask ourselves if we like our job anymore or if we could even complete another profession successfully. I can say this for myself, and I am sure it goes for many of you, that I simply could not see myself in another profession. I can not see myself enjoying another profession or completing it with the relative success I have already achieved in my law enforcement career thus far. This is a very scary thought. It is a scary thought because we work, as police officers, in a profession where we are limited, to a certain degree, by departmental budgetary factors, the current political atmosphere and an environment where one step in the wrong direction, one miscalculated judgement call could take our job from us, or force us into a position where redeeming oneself can prove very difficult. These factors often weigh heavy on me, bringing on the stressful thoughts of whether or not I could complete or find another job that would make me as happy as law enforcement does, in the unfortunate event that I find myself on the outside looking in, for any reason whatsoever. 

It is the stress of being without this lifestyle that allows me to go about my work in a professional manner. This is not because I am paranoid of making a wrong move, or being low enough on the seniority list that a layoff could put my career in danger. It is because I consider the profession of law enforcement as a coveted lifestyle, a profession I don’t ever want to be without. It is, perhaps, these stressors that prove to me that this is the profession and the job for me. If you find yourself without these, what I consider to be common thoughts, then perhaps this job is not for you. As officers, we need to be surrounded by a positive, professional and free thinking environment, where encouragement outweighs negativity by a large margin. Negativity leads to complacency and discouragement, which leads to recklessness and a lack of safety. 

I know law enforcement is the profession for me because, despite the fact that I look forward to my 2 days off of work every week, I am always eager and ready to return. The days can be long, sometimes dull, but it is the people who I am surrounded by, who I choose to surround myself by, that make the job what it is. I previously worked for a private sector business, where the days were long, stuffed in a cubicle and surrounded by individuals who seemed to do nothing but complain about the job. I enjoyed the content of that job, however, the individuals I was surrounded by made my work life intolerable. At the same time I knew I wanted to be in law enforcement, surrounded by individuals who were like-minded to myself. After being in this profession for a few years now, it is amazing the different it makes in your life when you are surrounded by people in your profession who share a similar passion of the job. 

I know this is the right job for me because it does not seem to be a job in my mind. I do not pay attention to paychecks, so long as that I can provide for myself and my loved ones. I do not concentrate on the trivial union debates, the raise I may get after this negotiation or the next, or the conditions under which I work. I am provided a safe environment flooded with professional officers. I am provided the necessities (emphasis on necessities) to get my job done. I work under an administration and supervisors that reward and recognize hard work and will discipline those who fail to meet the standard. 

It is up to you to decide whether or not law enforcement is the profession for you. You can choose to concentrate on the negative aspects of the job or your department. You can choose to be disgruntled or have a lack of trust in your administration and supervisors. I urge you, however, to re-orient your mind onto the positive aspects of your job. I guarantee, if you were to write out the pros and the cons of your current position, you would see just how great your job is. If after all of this, you still seem to lack solid purpose in your job, then I will submit to you that maybe, just perhaps, law enforcement isn’t the job for you. 

We owe it to ourselves and we owe it to our co-workers to be the best possible officer we can be, even if that means not being an officer at all.