Stand Out!

July 13, 2011

Personal Excellence

The Story

Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend an outstanding conference where a number of very accomplished folks spoke on a variety of topics related to personal development and achievement.  While they expressed their views differently, they all highlighted the need for individuals to assume responsibility for their personal development with the belief that success is dependent on making yourself stand out from the crowd.

What is your value add?

In these difficult economic times it is increasingly difficult for organizations to pry dollars from their budgets for developing their people beyond the mandated topics.  Too many accept the limited opportunities for training provided by the organization as a license to plateau in their development and justify dissatisfaction.

We need to develop a different perspective if we expect to achieve better results.  We need to view the diminishing number of opportunities as a personal challenge and the disgruntlement of our peers as an opportunity to stand out from the crowd.  None of us went into this profession as pacifists, willing to settle for what was handed to us.  It is hard to get a job in our profession and we faced difficult competition to get hired.  When I was appointed over 5000 people began the process with 33 being hired.  Being selected put you in a pretty exclusive group.  On the day you were selected you became a champion – but the game didn’t end that day.

The opportunity for promotion, or assignment to specialized units, or to be the best in your current position, should be viewed as even greater competition. You have proven yourself as a competitor so by all means, compete.  Remember that you are now contesting with other champions and the competition level just jumped.  Don’t rest on the assurance of a labor agreement or fall into the groupthink trap of the belief that the Department sucks because they didn’t give you a chance.  Take up your own cause and develop yourself.  When the time comes for selection, have a positive answer when people ask what value you personally have added to the organization.  The excuse that someone didn’t give you an opportunity might make you feel good but it certainly won’t get you the result you say that you want to achieve.  Walk your talk.

What to do?

  • Set some goals.  Know where you are going and why you want to get there.  What competencies are required to do the job you seek?
  • Plan your path to achieving your goals.
  • Seek guidance from those who have gone before.  Reach out to someone who has previously achieved your goal.  Find out what they did to get there and then do it.
  • Educate yourself.  This doesn’t necessarily mean formal education which may or may not add value to the Department.  Read a book – check out the Guardian’s Bookshelf for some great, police related, personal development selections.  Check out free education opportunities on the internet such as the Khan Academy or iTunesU.
  • Be a conscientious consumer.  Does a police officer really need a degree in criminal justice to get ahead?  Would a degree in management, organizational development, leadership or law  make you a more valuable asset and better prepare you for advancement? Learn the skills you need rather than relying on someone else to design your education.
  • Market yourself.  Keep track of what you have done to achieve your goals and be able to communicate to others why you are the best choice when your opportunity presents itself.

Champions understand that the prize goes to those who are prepared when opportunity knocks!

As always, THANK YOU for your service and BE SAFE!

Please share with others your experiences in developing your career.  Do you have any suggestions for those who would like to do what you have done?




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