Awhile back I received an email, forwarded from a friend that apparently originated with John Farnam. I’d like to thank Mr. Farnam and my friend, Chief Jeff Chudwin, for having sent this along. Each of the below statements was contained in the email with a few words expounding on the meaning. I’m being arrogant enough in this article to provide my own thoughts on each of these statements. I appreciate all intelligent comments, even if they disagree with something I’ve said. Please keep that in mind. Let’s go…

“You may not always be right, but you can always be convincing.”
Part of the follow-on comment for this quote was “A timid voice and bearing always projects weakness and confusion of purpose.” That is just so true. For all you veteran soldiers and law enforcement professionals, think back to when you were green. You hated being called a rookie; you were sure you knew all the latest greatest stuff since you were fresh out of the academy; all of those “old guys” kept trying to tell you what was worth knowing and how to do things the right way. But one thing was always sure and certain: whatever that veteran did, he did it with a confidence level with which you couldn’t compete. If he was ever in doubt that doubt was only expressed out of the public eye. When he gave orders, he gave them in a tone and with a demeanor that let everyone know they’d better obey that order pretty quick and without any grief or things would get ugly fast. It was only later, after a couple years of service, that you learned how often he was bluffing; he wasn’t confident, but he sure acted like it. Remember that light bulb coming on over your head? The lesson you realized that you’d learned in that moment needs to be taught to all of those who wear a uniform and follow us into the profession of arms. We can help them along by showing a good example. Unfortunately, we cannot provide them the light bulb moment. That takes time and experience. They have to earn that on their own (with our guidance).

“Be righteous in thought and deed.”
I’m going to add two others to this that seem appropriate:
“Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”
“It’s not who we are that defines us; it’s what we do.”

I know a man who happens to wear the title of “Chaplain” but whom absolutely no one respects because his behavior isn’t exactly righteous appearing. He is a single man – either never married or he’s divorced – and he is a police officer. In the course of his duties on the street he spends an awful lot of time trying to make more time with the ladies. Now, as a red-blooded American male, I don’t fault him trying to make time with the ladies. I was raised in an Episcopalian family and even my priest had a wife and children. The bigger issue with this particular man is how he goes about chasing the women; the lies he constantly tells; the information he manages just so; the misleading statements he makes to his supervisory staff, or his conscious effort at not telling the whole story when asked certain questions. His name was recently brought up during a discussion when the FOP needed to select a new Chaplain. The laughter in the room made it clear how the membership felt about his deceitfulness. Now, I’ll be the first to say that we cannot be the thought police. Whatever you think is your business and no one should judge you for it or condemn you for it. But once you voice your thoughts, now it’s out for everyone to judge and condemn. If your statements reflect a personality that is shallow and deceitful, you shouldn’t be surprised when people stop taking you seriously.

“You are at the center of only your own universe.”
This is an absolutely true statement. The other side of that is that it’s true for EVERYONE. Each of us lives in our own universe. While the quote is given to illustrate the point that no one wants to constantly hear about your problems and ultimately constantly complaining about your troubles will cost you some level of respect from those around you, it applies to many other things as well. A wise man once told me that “everything is a matter of perception.” That’s also absolutely true. How we perceive OUR universe is entirely a matter of how everything around us relates to US – or more specifically me or you. Each of us perceives things with our own outlook and in relation to how it affects us or what we care about. This veracity of this quote is shown in some of the newer force continua because they are round and they revolve around the officer – positioned in the middle of his universe.

“Only victims are victimized.”
I had to laugh when I read this. It reminds me of the joke about a family walking down the street when a mugger jumps out brandishing a knife demanding money. The question asked is, “What is your response?” The Democrat / Liberal response is a list of questions that include things like, “Is he really close enough to do harm with the knife? Have I done something to offend him? What was his childhood like? Is he just hungry and in need of a good meal?” The Republican / Conservative response is, “Bang!” Sometimes it’s, “Bang, bang, bang, bang.” The reason I laugh is because while people stand around wondering about such things as a criminal’s childhood, distance, weapon of choice, etc., they are standing there being willing victims. Indecision IS a decision. The point made by the text accompanying this quote is that victims look and act like victims and are therefore targeted by predators. Non-victims – winners if you will – are usually conducting themselves with such awareness and confidence that the predators leave well enough alone. Which are you?

“You brought nothing into this world when you came, and you’ll surely carry nothing out when you leave.”
How many guys do you know who work tons of secondary employment or extra part time to pay for that new plasma screen television? I have no trouble or complaint with people who work hard. They are far preferable to the lazy losers who demand something for nothing. And I certainly understand needing to earn enough to feed your family, put clothes on their backs and a roof over their head. By the same token, all the time you lose from your family while you work is time lost that can never be regained. Once you pass away, your timer has expired. The good news is that your surviving family can remember you and the time they enjoyed with you. Help maximize their memories.

“Don’t speak ill of those who make you look good.”
This is a no-brainer. Those of us in leadership positions should never speak ill of those who work for us or with us and whose work makes US look good. Aside from formal leader / follower relationships, there are the informal but just as recognizable leaders and followers of the world that seem to fall into step together. It’s never a leaders place to belittle a follower. The text that accompanied this quote specifically mentions not insulting those who are in the process of losing to you. Doing so makes you a sore winner. Win with as much grace as you want others to lose with.

“Gain is only important to those who have nothing important in their lives.”
See the above comment. This makes me think about the police supervisor I know who has no family – because he’s divorced and relatively disconnected from his grown children – and he therefore spends an awful lot of time working full time, working part time and building relationships with other cops. I’ve written in the past about the difference in his life’s motivations as they exist for him as compared to those of a police officer with a supportive family waiting at home. When I think about the “who have nothing important in their lives” part of that quote I can’t help but think it applies to those without families. Maybe I’m being too narrow minded.

“Don’t just look. See!”
How often have you worked with an officer who constantly looked at everything but never saw anything. He (or she) could look right at a crime in progress but never notice it because they were on auto-pilot? Being a cop anywhere in the United States today requires you to operate at a level of awareness that at least means seeing and noticing what you’re looking at. C’mon… this is officer survival 101. Basic training stuff. If you’re walking around in Code White on duty, find another job.

“Think, don’t feel.”
I think this is pretty funny because I’ve written entire white papers about the need to feel instead of think! What this quote means is to not get so caught up in your emotions that you fail to analyze information rationally and take the necessary actions in response. When performing your job as a police officer, analyzing how information makes you feel is a waste of time – the public’s and your own. When using your feelings instead of thinking your way through everything matters is when you’re operating in high-risk situations in compressed time frames. Then your training and experience had better support operating, to some extent, on your intuition – your feelings.

And finally…
“The unarmed are not just defenseless. They is contemptible.” – Machiavelli
I can’t agree with this one. LtCol Dave Grossman categorizes people as sheep, wolves or sheepdogs. I remember clearly him saying, “If you CAN carry a gun and choose to leave your house without one, stop at the door, take a deep breath and say, ‘Baaaa…’.” I said that to a friend of mine and he took offense. His response was, “You know what? I can be standing there butt naked and I’m not a sheep.” He never considers himself unarmed although he does make sure he has a weapon every time he leaves his house. For him, as for a lot of today’s warriors, it’s more about mindset than equipment. There is so much each of us can do to not be defenseless, and most of it goes far beyond whether or not we’re armed. Some of the lessons necessary to learn are cited in the quotes above.

Pay attention. Notice, catalog and analyze what you see or learn. Act on it accordingly and do so without complaint or hesitation. Act on it with confidence. Do the right thing for the right reasons and then go home to your family at the end of your shift. Do the best you can to leave work at work but never become a willing victim. Enjoy your family time. Recharge your batteries. When your shift starts again, go to work and do it the same way without fail. Be righteous in your words and deeds. Rest assured, there are people who look for a fault in everything you do. Don’t give them anything to work with.

And in the morning when you look in the mirror, ask yourself two things:

1) Am I proud of who I am and what I’ve accomplished lately?


2) Have I done anything my family wouldn’t be proud of?

Make sure you’re confident in your answers.


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