“Accept Yesterday, Act Today, Anticipate Tomorrow” – Approaching Law Enforcement with the Triple “A” Mindset

I’ve been sitting on this idea of “Accept, Act and Anticipate” for quite some time now. It came to me when I was sitting on the job one night, experiencing a period of deep thought. I liked these three words together and knew I had to expand on them. The struggle came mostly with the word “anticipate”, but I will get to that in due time. I would like to take the chance to explain each in its own context, finishing with how they act together as one. Ultimately, I see the “Accept, Act and Anticipate” mindset to be an effective way of approaching our law enforcement lives. By learning to master “Accept”, we can then “Act”, and in turn, once we can “Act” we can “Anticipate”. 

I’d like to ask you to put yourself in the “present”. Approach this article in the mindset that you are in today, yesterday has passed and tomorrow has not come yet. Be aware of what your yesterday was, what your today has already been, what it can come to be, and that tomorrow has yet to arrive.

Now, we need to “accept yesterday”. This can be much easier said than done. It should be the last thing that we do before we go to sleep at night and the first thing that we do in the morning when we wake up. It needs to go no further than these two times in our day. We must consciously keep it from our minds and give it only the time it needs to set in. I have read before that we spend almost 50% of our self-thought in the past. This is entirely too much. Imagine if we were able to dedicate only 20% of our thought on the past and spend the remaining 30% on the present or positive future thoughts. I tend to be a bit of a realist; therefore, I believe it impossible to spend 0% of our thought on the past, it’s just not possible. In law enforcement we go through a lot in any given work day. We see things that many are spared from seeing. We deal with a group of people who many citizens are blind to. We feel a range of emotions in any given day that a normal person may feel over the span of weeks. We make mistakes, we fail, we prosper and we fall. It is especially important for us to accept all of this. Being in today, we need to accept yesterday. Yesterday has come, it has passed and it will never come back. The mistakes made yesterday have been made, there is no taking them back. The events of yesterday are over, they already happened, no event exactly the same will ever happen again. The words we used, the conversations we had, the altercations, the physical and verbal abuse, the dangers and the joys of yesterday are not here in their exact form today. We must reserve a special spot in our minds for all of this, a corner of our brain called acceptance. Once we can accept that yesterday has come and passed, we can begin to “Act today.”

Being able to “act today” is just another way of me advising all to live in the present. This is something everyone has heard so many times throughout our lives. It is even advice we give to other people that we find hard to follow ourselves. Why? Because we are weighed down by our past and we are burdened by our future. However, at this point, we are able to “accept yesterday”. Acceptance will open the door to the ability to act. We live in a career where we are not guaranteed a spot in our bed at night. We live in a world ever-changing and increasingly dangerous. This is the sole reason for dedicating most of our brain power to today. If we are unable to act today due to future and past burdens, we are less effective, we become unsafe. The ideal mindset is one where you even accept that 5 minutes ago is in the past and the only way to proceed is in the “now”. We must remain tactical, alert, aware, our situational awareness must be unmatched. This is simply our only option. Acting today has less to do with refusing to take things for granted and more about our unique requirement for physical and mental safety on the day-to-day job. Without the ability to “act today”, we will be unable to “anticipate tomorrow”. 

Once we have learned to “act today” we can begin to allow the anticipation of tomorrow to maturely enter its way into our daily thought process. This part of my “Accept, Act and Anticipate” (Triple “A”) mindset has been the most difficult to get a hold of. This is simply because I advocate living in the present. It almost seemed to me that anticipating tomorrow was allowing myself to exit the present and enter the future. I’ve struggled with future-dwelling in the past. I, on occasion, still struggle with it today. It became very important for me to properly identify and define the “anticipate tomorrow” portion of the Triple “A” Mindset. I strongly believe that by accepting yesterday and acting today we are setting ourselves up to properly anticipate tomorrow. Perhaps a more appropriate term for anticipate is to prepare. When we have woken up and accepted that yesterday is exactly that, yesterday, and we have begun to act on today, we are inevitably and subconsciously anticipating tomorrow. We are preparing ourselves and arming ourselves with the mindset that tomorrow will come and we will be equipped with the proper mental and emotional tools to take it on head-strong. By anticipating tomorrow, we do not necessarily have to dwell on or think of the coming tasks or burdens. Anticipating tomorrow is a multi-level cognitive and decision-making process. What we are simply doing is telling ourselves that tomorrow is not yesterday, tomorrow is not today, tomorrow does not exist in the present but tomorrow will eventually come. We can then accept that tomorrow will be our new “today”, and once it arrives we can begin to act on it, with the same tools we are using right now in the present. Despite routine calendar maintenance and time management, this is as much mental preparedness we need to dedicate towards tomorrow. If we can master this semi-conscious anticipation of tomorrow, we will only set ourselves up for success. 

The Triple “A” Mindset has been something that has been nagging at my mind for quite a while. It has taken me a couple of months to even begin to put it down in writing. I will revisit this idea of “Accept, Act and Anticipate” often. It is going to be an evolving and maturing concept for me. If we are able to put it all together, mold it to our law enforcement careers and family lives, I believe we will be of healthier mind and spirit. But, first things first, allow us to “accept” that we are wolfhunters, that we are a family of blue, one that can be scratched but not broken, a family of one blood, nationwide. Stand tall and act on today, doing the job we all know we are good at and anticipate that tomorrow you will do the same. 

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