About 20 minutes ago, as I write this, I posted the following on Facebook and wanted to expand on it: “I am not the best policeman to ever have worn a badge. I am not the best police instructor to ever wear a red shirt. I am not the best writer to have ever been published. I AM the best husband I can be to my wife. I AM the best dad I can be for my children. I AM the best friend I can be for my friends. I don’t regret what I’m not and I cherish what I am.”
The response I received was immediate and overwhelming. It was actually quite heart-warming. One of my friends apparently thought I was feeling down (although I don’t know why). He offered me consolation by reassuring me that I’m a good man. There have been times in my past… 30+ish years ago when I doubted the reality of being a “good” man, but I’ve long since grown past that. What used to cause me concern about my own heart and motivation… my own character… is a distant memory and one I no longer carry as a concern.
I am not the best police officer to have ever lived. Having once written a column about Legendary Lawmen and having learned so much about so many truly awe-inspiring lawmen of years past, I know I’m not the best police officer; not in my own generation and certainly not in generations past. That said, I’m no slouch either. My approach to peace keeping was and is certainly different than that of some of my brother and sister officers, but it wasn’t unprofessional or lazy. I enforced the law fairly and with compassion and I went out of my way to help where I could. I never considered being a policeman “just a job” as it is definitely a lifestyle. That said, I rarely considered myself part of a team that was “us versus them.” Courtesy was my primary focus, even if coldly professional. I tried to conduct myself in such a way that my mother would never slap me for something I did.
I am not the best law enforcement instructor to have ever lived. Even in my brief life I’ve had the honor of meeting some truly spectacular, knowledgeable and highly motivated instructors in this profession. I am even more blessed to call some of them “friend.” People like Tom Perroni, Dave Grossman, Dave Smith (JD Buck Savage) and others have been kind enough to grant me their time and friendship. When it comes to teaching, I don’t hold a candle to them. On the other hand, I’m not slouch at that either. I have taught firearms, officer survival, defensive tactics, a variety of less-lethal tools, SWAT classes and more. I have taught deputies, police officers and law enforcement professionals from every level of government: municipal, county, state and federal, not to mention a few military and some DoD folks. It’s been my honor. If anything I’ve taught has helped just one officer go home safe at the end of the night, it was worth all of it.
I am not the best writer to have ever been published – although “best” is open to a very wide interpretation here. I’ve written everything from emergency preparedness to political opinion to self-help/motivation and fiction. I’ve earned some royalty payments and sold a few books. I’m not Stephen King or Dean Koontz. I don’t honestly aspire to be. I am more concerned with communicating a message than getting a check (and I’ve been criticized for that outlook by plenty of people). On the other hand, I’ve had several thousand articles published, twelve books (so far) and two research papers. My work has been cited by several police academies and at least one military unit I know of is using my work as the foundation for how they structure their training. If my writing has helped one person get through a challenge they might not have otherwise met, then it was all worth it.
There are plenty of other “I’m not”s. I’m not the best editor ever. I’m not the best shooter ever. I’m not the best chaplain ever (and yes, for those of you who just opened your eyes wide in surprise or jerked in reaction to that, I served as my FOP Lodge chaplain for a very brief stint). I am not a great story teller or the most creative novelist. Lots of “I’m not”s. But you know what I am?
I am the best husband I can possibly be for my wife and as much as our family and friends joke about her putting up with me, she will quickly correct them to say how well I treat her; how much and how often I show her I care; how blessed she is to be my better half.
I am the best father and daddy I can be for all four of my children. Sure, they might look around at their friends’ dads and wish I did something different or what they perceive as better somehow… but I have always done the best I could in every given moment to be the best dad I could be for them. It has been, since I became a dad, the driving motivation in my life.
I am the best friend I can be for those I consider my friends. I don’t use the term casually and if I call you “friend” it’s a compliment from me. It means you’ve earned my trust and you have the power to hurt me. I am very selective of who I give that power to, so if I’ve given it to you, it’s a comment from me about how I feel toward you; how I value you; how I trust you. I do my best to be worthy of your friendship and to return it in a way that drives you to appreciate having me in your day.
Those are all personal. On the professional side I am the best Editorial Director I can be. I am conscientious in my performance and diligent in my duties, but I don’t allow my dedication to work to eclipse my commitments to my family and friends. I am a decent writer and regularly working on being better. Sure, I’d love to have a NY Times Bestseller but I will not be disappointed if it never happens. I’ve received too much positive feedback on my writing from people whose opinion I hold in high regard. Money is nice, but an honest compliment is better.
God forbid, I feel like I could go to my grave with my soul at peace with one exception: I feel like there is more I can do for my family, my friends and people I’ve yet to meet. I believe I have more to offer; more to give; more to contribute; more help to deliver.
Now… thank you for having read through all that. Ask yourself these questions:
What are you?
What are you not?
Is your soul at peace with your answers?
If not, grow and change. If so, grow and keep growing!