What one can do, another can do

August 22, 2011

Leadership, Personal Excellence

In the movie ‘The Edge’, Charles (played by Anthony Hopkins) confidently proclaims to the other characters, “What one man can do, another can do.”  While not literally true in all cases, the statement underlines the importance of observing and learning from others.  There is no need to reinvent the wheel if we take advantage of the knowledge already gathered by our predecessors.  Our choices of mentors and role models have a significant impact on our personal success, or failure.  We need to consciously manage the influences we allow to intrude on our lives.


To be successful, by definition, we need only do what successful people do.  Sounds easy enough.  The question then becomes figuring out exactly what it is they do.  Many of us look at successful professional athletes and imagine that we can do what they do.  Their performance on the field doesn’t tell the whole tale.  It doesn’t tell of the countless hours that they practiced and trained.  It doesn’t tell about the times that they weren’t so successful and managed to persevere.  It doesn’t tell about the struggle to succeed.  You will never learn that story unless you look beyond the performance on the field.  It means getting to know them much better.  The same is true for those who are successful in any profession.

I didn’t join my police department and become the Deputy Chief on my first day.  It was the culmination of a 27 year career that was full of success and failure.  Good and bad performance.  Good and bad decisions.  Confidence and doubt.  Satisfaction and discontent.  I didn’t walk that path alone.  I chose those who walked the path with me.  I chose to walk with those I knew I could learn from.  Those who I respected and admired and who were willing to share the knowledge that they had gained.  Rank meant nothing and I was happy to learn from anyone who had something of value to offer.  Many of my role models taught me remotely, through books.  I took the best from each and tried to do what they did.  I learned to be discerning about those I allowed to influence me.


Cops tend to like cops.  They share the experience of working in an environment which they suspect outsiders would never understand.  They share the fun, challenges and danger.  Cops like to think of themselves as special; a breed apart.  By inference cops view all cops as something special.  I have a special place in my heart for anyone willing to wear the blue in service of their community.  Despite this warm fuzzy, not every cop presents a great role model.

We all know the cops whose attitudes are pure poison.  They walk around like Eeyore (of Winnie the Pooh fame). Everything is wrong in their world.  The department, the brass, the politicians, the courts and the community are all hosed.  The Eeyore’s of the world are often the loudest; the most willing to tell you how things ‘really are.’ Eeyore’s attitude becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.  If you believe everything is hosed, it is.


The Eeyore’s of the world are wrong.  Everything is not hosed unless you believe it to be so.  Yet the Eeyore’s becomes a significant influence because they are so willing to share their opinions with you.  The best way to judge Eeyore is to look at his results.  Eeyore seldom finds success.  It follows that if you want to be a success then don’t be Eeyore.


Choose wisely those who you invite to walk your path.  Walk the way that successful people do.  Avoid those who would steer you the wrong way.  Remember that you influence everyone you come into contact with.  Vow to be a positive influence and a good role model.  Vince Lombardi said that, “The only place that success comes before work is in the dictionary.”  Choose your goals and put in the work.  After all, “What one man can do, another can do.”

As always, THANK YOU for what you do and BE SAFE!

Please comment on the ways you choose your role models.





Subscribe to our e-mail newsletter to receive updates.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply