First, say to yourself what you would be; then do what you have to do.
This article continues the discussion from your MAGNUS (Javidi, et. al., 2016) guide on how to pursue the journey of becoming a MAGNUS officer. We began this discussion by making the case that what matters is that an officer continuously improves in the characteristics of virtue, that is, learning to be increasingly fair, strong, wise and prudent. Essentially living virtuously is simple but not easy. It is determining what is right or wrong and doing the right thing in the middle of the shift in the middle of the night when no one is watching.
Becoming MAGNUS is a process of improving thinking, speaking, action and deeds through the gradual process of improving character.
Everyone has the Capacity to be Better
Demands of modern policing require officers who are not only technically competent, they must continually strive to be virtuous and thus contribute to the best of their ability to family, those around them, career and the community. The greats throughout history practiced what they preached. Cicero became one of our greatest orators by life-long study and practice, Mashushi is Japan’s greatest Samauri because he lived the Way, and Benjamin Franklin became one of our most accomplished and revered Founding Fathers by acting on his 13 virtues as a young man and to his dying day. They all had the pursuit of virtue in common.
All started humbly, ended having lived lives worth living and made the world as we know it a much, much better place. Their enduring message is that everyone, yes everyone, has the capacity to be better tomorrow than they are today and consequently make their world much, much better.
Character is a Matter of Choice
There are really no excuses to prevent you from beginning the process of, or impeding your progress to becoming MAGNUS. Think of the example set by so many people who have what most would consider impediments to life and happiness, yet they are accomplished in their own way and happy. In fact, difficulties can uncover hidden talents, resources and strengths; troubles to a person on a virtuous path are really opportunities. How many times have we experienced what at the time seems like the end of the world, not getting a long-sought promotion, perhaps losing a job then having to move to find work only to see things work out for the better, albeit after a lot of work. The difference is attitude. We all can have generous impulses which we should indulge. There is nothing like doing good even if it is a well-timed, well-deserved complement humbly offered.
Decide to be Remarkable – Now
It has been said that a large part of success in life is just showing up. What more if you show up ready and able to work and set the example of one guided by a sense of what is right and wrong. And that he or she behaves wisely, with a bit of daring and a good dose of humility. What we suggest is that we develop a noble, values-based character which then intuitively guides our every action. This is as simple as always trying to do the right thing – it is called a moral compass which takes constant practice to get right. This is not a new idea; the ancients prove that it is better live a life of moderation. This does not mean becoming a recluse. It means to live within your means and doing simple but meaningful things. Learn to enjoy a dinner with the family.
The First Step is the Toughest
Whether you are brand new to policing, or have a few stripes, deciding to be better is tough. We all have years if not formative decades of unproductive habits, counterproductive behaviors, and perhaps a few character flaws to overcome. So much of life is characterized by the clever but exasperating saying, “Don’t just do something, stand there.” So, take the first step, commit to being a bit better and take action – Look, listen, learn, do. Look within. You can’t change the world without first understanding yourself.
Asses your strengths and weaknesses. You may even jot them down in two columns on a page; it is remarkable the power of writing something down. Then prioritize what you wish to and need to work on. Perhaps you see something glaring which needs attention right away. Perhaps it would be more advisable to correct something simple to get going. Don’t forget that you can also bolster the good bits of your character while you strengthen what needs work. What matters is that you act; correct what can be corrected and tweak the positive.
- Observe – Perceive what is really going on. Most times what you see is not what is really going on. The face you see on a call for service is but the beginning of what is going on with that person. The first expression of an idea to improve your working situation needs to be understood in the context of the people, processes and procedures required to get it done.
- Listen – Carefully listen to what people say; when you are quiet you can hear the nuances of what is being said. It also goes that it is most helpful to listen to people worth listening to. It is ok to ask good questions. Many times, people really don’t get to the heart of things unless they are asked the same question posed several different ways which brings them to the gem of information, perspective or bit of wisdom that needs just a little coaxing to reveal. Then you get to the root of a problem to correct or the kernel of an idea which can be done and will actually do some good.
- Learn – Continuously learn. If you are not a reader, pick up a book – right now. Surround yourself with books especially those that have something to say. A good book especially a classic, is the way to wisdom, better command of language and a lifetime of enjoyment. Never leave home without one. Experience something new, even push your limits a bit. Stretching our comfort level increases capability and ads to the quality of life. Sign up for classes on your Institute for Credible Leadership Development Academy and commit to at least the first three phases.
- Act – In the end you must act. Start small but commit; do something to improve. Then immerse yourself in the process, the journey of becoming MAGNUS. As with all things, the more you practice the better you are at the task at hand.
A successful career is not a matter of a continuous campaign to promote yourself, which is unbelievably stressful. It is a matter of a thousand little things done well and perhaps a little better than you did them the last time. Living virtuously is not a big thing; it is awareness of all the little noble things that can be done throughout the day. It is the difference between slogging through the day and feeling accomplished after a shift – It is the practice of simply being useful thus becoming remarkable, becoming MAGNUS.
Epictetus, 1995, The Art of Living: The Classical Manual on Virtue, Happiness, and Effectiveness, Interpreted by Sharon Lebell, HarperCollins Publishers, NY, NY.
Javidi, M., & Klopovic, J. (2016). MAGNUS – Describing the Magnanimous Officer. Available On-line: https://www.lawenforcementtoday.com/becoming-magnus-the-natural-pursuit-of-virtue-in-policing/
Javidi, M., Nash, R., Klopovic, J., Hoina, C., Normore, Valenti, V., Scott, W., Watt,R., Cooper, B., Clapham, W., Anderson, T., Ellis, E., Bass, S., & Javidi, A. (2016). Magnanimous Officers. The International Academy of Public Safety. Available On-line: http://leicld.com/magnus/
Mitch Javidi, Ph.D., is the founder of the International Academy of Public Safety, the Institute for Credible Leadership development and the Criminal Justice Commission for Credible Leadership Development. As a globally recognized expert on leadership development, Mitch has trained leaders at the Joint Special Operations Command, and the US Army Special Operations Command and is an honorary member of the United States Army Special Operations Command. A past tenured Associate Professor at NC State University, he continues to serve as an Adjunct Professor at NC State and Illinois State Universities.
Dr. James Klopovic, Director of the Credible Law Enforcement Organization (CLO), holds a Doctorate of Public Policy from Charles Sturt University, Sydney Australia, with concentration on service project capacity building at the organizational and community levels focusing on community policing, delinquency prevention, reducing recidivism and reducing prison populations.
Nicole Klopovic, PA-C, is beginning her Physician Assistant career as a primary health care provider where she hopes to serve disadvantaged patients. She put herself through pre-med at UC Davis, graduated with honors, and has completed the master’s degree requirements as a PA at the UC Davis Medical School, Sacramento where she served as class president. She is a teacher and mentor to young students who only speak Spanish by tutoring them in the sciences in their native language. She studies Eastern philosophy which she applies to daily living. Nicole has been interested and involved in criminal justice having served as an intern at the North Carolina Governor’s Crime Commission. She is interested and concerned with childhood obesity where she hopes to continue research into practical solutions to this major health concern. She also aspires to serve in the Air Force as a medical officer.