When you really think about it, we’re all just one call away from a career-ending incident.
I don’t want to come across as “doom and gloom,” but this is the realty of the job. Most officers will have long and fruitful careers, but what happens if you are one of those who, through no fault of their own, are forced to do something else?
Maybe you have already thought about this. Maybe you have already dealt with this type of scenario. If you haven’t, I would encourage you to really take time to think about your options — right now.
What will you do after your time in law enforcement? Because, sooner or later, your career will come to an end.
I was taught from an early age to be as versatile as possible. I knew from the onset of my law enforcement career that, like most careers, it would come to an end someday and hopefully I would survive until then. I survived, and along the way I made myself more versatile so I would have more options when the day came to exit the profession.
What are some of the ways to became more versatile?
Be a lifelong learner. I am learning every day. I am not one of those people that think they know everything. You should be learning every day too. I am not just talking about formal education, which is important, but also about learning more about life. Meeting and learning about the people around you is very important and extremely valuable.
Take the road less traveled.
Take chances (albeit, well thought-out chances) and try new things. You will be amazed at how much of the world opens up to you and, more importantly, how much more you will learn when you put yourself out there. Not only will you become more versatile, but you will become more valuable at work.
When I started the CJEvolution Podcast a little over three years ago, very few law enforcement officers were doing podcasts. I knew I wanted to continue to give back to the law enforcement community, so I said screw it – I’m going to get out of my comfort zone and do this.. By doing so I became more versatile, and I have become accustomed to being uncomfortable since.
Be passionate about your job.
I know… we all have bad days. But if you are not passionate about going to work every day, then you need to work on an exit strategy and get yourself out. Do not… I say again, DO NOT stay at a job just for the money. This is the absolute worst thing that you can do, and more importantly, if you are unhappy, it’s going to show in your work. Trust me, I did this for a long time and it’s never worth it. I know what some of you are thinking: I have bills. I have a mortgage and my family needs to eat. I have the same things but see the first paragraph again on the possibility of something happening that could end your career.
Don’t burn bridges.
As tempting as it is to say “I don’t give a sh*t” sometimes, taking the higher road can and often does lead to better things. I know this is hard to do sometimes, especially with that someone that you really can’t stand to be around with, let alone talk to. However, if you maintain a positive relationship with that person, you never know where it will lead. Maybe that person can help you down the road.
Don’t wait for your boss to tell you to do something.
No one, especially bosses, like hand holding. Taking the initiative and doing things without being told is very attractive to the higher ups in an organization. Even if you made the wrong decision, it can show the bosses that you are eager, and you are a go getter. Screw the naysayers and the people who say you are a “kiss ass.” There is no nobility in taking a back seat.
Become more versatile and you will be more successful.
Patrick is the host and creator of CJEvolution. A top ranked criminal justice podcast that can be found here: www.cjevolution.com