By Danny McGuire
“There is nothing permanent except change.”
Times, They Are a’ Changing
Heraclitus is responsible for some great quotes and the above was stated sometime between his birth in 535 BC and his death in 475 BC. So much insight and yet it was more than 2,000 years ago; nevertheless, it applies to today more than ever.
As I watch on social media and the American Brainwashing Device (ABD – The Television), some protestors attempt to waver the professionalism of our brothers and sisters. They are using profane speech, attempted stare downs (for which, more than likely, would be met with a physical response by their contemporaries “on the street”) and invading the safe reactionary gap officers use to keep themselves safe. Activists are using this platform to put our political leaders in the “fetal position” and making law enforcement professionals feel like they are the bad guys. With that said, officers must never forget that they are the last line of defense between anarchy and “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Facts and Fictions
“Sometimes fiction is more easily understood than true events. Reality is often pathetic.”
Again, I found myself having conversations with law enforcement professionals at the “Coffee Clutches” where we meet and have great discussions. Here are some “Facts and Fictions” we threw around these past few weeks:
Fact: The law enforcement field is changing and it is completely out of your control. This power resonates with politicians, special interest groups, the media and upper management, which as we recently witnessed, can be solvent one day and gone the next.
Fiction: Outside resources can fix all the problems. This is fiction to the highest degree. The problems we are facing in law enforcement today resonate directly with abuse and mishandling of situations by top-tier leadership roles down to the street officers.
Fact: Outside resources can make all the suggestions in the world. Action will change the direction (i.e. effective training for first line supervision, more supervisory manpower as opposed to more supervisor duties in addition to training and equipment for street personnel). This also means municipalities must follow the recommendations and then spend money on those recommendations as opposed to flowerpots and pretty lights which will be destroyed by protesters anyway.
Fiction: All police officers go out each night with discrimination and violation of civil rights in mind.
Fact: An overwhelming majority of officers are ethical and moral people. They have families and want the best for those families. They do their jobs to the best of their abilities, utilizing their training and moral compasses to “do the right thing” each day. They aren’t looking for parades and awards; they just want to be properly supported by their leaders (professional and political), to go home to their families after a shift and for the public to understand that they have chosen this role to protect them – the same people assassinating their morale and character.
“The bottom line is, when people are crystal clear about the most important priorities of the organization and team, they work with and prioritized their work around those top priorities, not only are they many times more productive, they also discover they have the time they need to have a whole life.”
Most people rely on daily routines to survive. Whether family or professional life, no one likes to change “what works.” We have a tendency to resist change because we as humans have the propensity to seek pleasure and avoid pain (see Sigmund Freud, Jeremy Bentham and Epicurus). Change is painful at times especially when the majority of those affected by changing are not those who precipitated those changes.
With that said, stress will start to enter your life because of uncertainty. This ambiguity may be in the realm of “how do I handle this situation now?” or relying on supervision that will also not have direction from their own direct leadership and so on.
Here is a stress management tip you can use daily to help get you through the stress:
Your life and your family’s dependence on you coming home after your shift are paramount. Being stressed out, especially over things out of your control, can play a major role is illness, both mental and physical.
Prioritizing is the key to being successful and managing the “unknowns” in life. Some people’s priorities are “family before work,” while others have “work before family.” Those in the latter category seem to be those that are stressed the most. Whatever your priorities are, take a step back and re-prioritize if you must to lessen your stress.