Many years ago a mentor counseled me about the importance of moving from being dependent to independent to inter-dependent. What does that mean?

The thesis is this: A person needs to rely upon mentors in order to learn how to survive on his or her own, yet ultimately becoming synergistic with the one that originally provided guidance.

So let’s take the classroom to the street.

Embracing wisdom and ingenuity for the greater good

The application of this wisdom is that young people should listen to others with experience while they learn to navigate the course before them. In other words, they need to learn to “do this act alone.” But once they can do so, the experienced generation needs to embrace the ingenuity of the young in order to become inter-dependent. It is through this process that young, middle age, and older people can work together for the greater good.

Expressing it another way, boot-rookies need to do more listening than speaking, yet veteran leadership should always be willing to hear fresh ideas.

This is like a museum

My home office is decorated with evidence of a career spent in law enforcement. My Kevlar SWAT helmet with my name stenciled on the back sits atop a bookcase. Five framed badges that I wore for three decades hang on the wall. Various medals are draped from a shelf, while my rookie picture is centered and surrounded by notes from career long well-wishers.

inter-dependent

Handcuffs and asp hanging in my “museum.”

Finally, I have a set of aged peerless handcuffs strapped on some hooks that hold my cherished asp—a device that seemed pretty contemporary after carrying a second-generation hickory straight-stick for years, but pretty outdated when looking at the Taser.

Recently my grandkids were playing with the cuffs. “Have these ever been on a bad guy?” they asked.

“More than I can remember,” was my response.

“Did they (handcuffs) ever have blood on them,” came the next unexpected question.

“Oh yeah,” I answered. “They indeed had blood from bad guys on them a few times,” . . . as I privately remembered one occasion when a mortally wounded suspect took his last gurgling breath wearing them.

“Wow, this is like a museum,” said my granddaughter.

Now grasp the importance of her amusing comment. What I thought was motif, she viewed as relics.

Optimizing inter-dependent relationships

The kids are in the dependent stage, but they are moving to independence. When they become adults, just like my adult children, they will become inter-dependent with me.

inter-dependentMoreover, the same process occurs with new employees in police work. They move through the process of dependent to independent, and ultimately inter-dependent. It is the best option.

To garner optimum outcomes, young people need to receive counsel from the experienced generation, while veterans need to hear what younger members of the department have to say. They may make a suggestion or statement that isn’t feasible and gets mocked by some, or they might have answers to age-old problems!

Are we listening?

This principle works everywhere. Take America for example. She was dependent upon England in origination. Then she declared independence to become a new nation. Yet over time allies were formed as we became inter-dependent.

Moreover, the same could be said for people groups everywhere. While independence is good, if the pursuit of power replaces the goal to become inter-dependent then divisive factions are formed. Naturally, we see this occurring in pockets across America.

Becoming inter-dependent is the best option; in our families, our organizations, and our country!

Jim McNeff, editor-in-chief, Law Enforcement Today

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