Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Changing Values

Lou Holtz who once coached Notre Dame used the acronym, "W.I.N." or "What's Important Now" to motivate his players and keep their focus on winning. Holtz wanted his players to ask themselves "What's Important Now" at least 35 times a day. When we first joined the police department we each had a set of values and an idea of what was important to us at that time. Ask yourself; "What's Important Now."

While you think of the thoughts that popped into your mind to this short but very important phrase; has the answer changed since you first put on that badge? Family; compassion; friends; honesty; integrity; doing what is right; getting promoted; securing a special assignment; your partner. Many of us came into law enforcement with the idea and desire of helping people. We developed a level of integrity and honesty as we matured and became adults. Our values were shaped and what was important in life reflected our values. What's Important Now?

We became police officers and began to see a different world. We experienced the human race at its extreme and our values began to change. The changes for some were drastic and not always for the better. Some of us maintained our core values; and what was important when we became police officers, changed very little. Why did some of our values change more than others? Why is it that what was important when we joined the world of law enforcement, for some, was no longer on the radar of importance? Could it be the "What's Important Now" changed?

As we gained experience and begin to shape our careers, we either maintained our values or we began to compromise them to meet our desire for advancement or "What's Important Now." We began to do and say things that reflected "What's Important Now;" and this in some cases began to challenge the values once held. Some failed to conform and challenged the changing values of others. These individuals became known as "trouble makers" or "malcontents" or "disgruntled" for challenging the status quo of those whose values changed. So the question remains, "What's Important Now?"

The higher the level of decision maker, the less that decision over time, appeared to be value based. The further removed from the decision makers rank or position one stood, the more he or she seemed to question or challenge these decisions. Compromising ones values came easy for some and never occurred to others. "What's Important Now" seemed to change the values of some and not for the better. Getting promoted began to be the, "What's Important Now."

The process has begun anew for the next round of promotions. The values of those participating will be tested as the process plays itself out. I challenge each of the candidates to ask yourself "What's Important Now" as you move through the process. I challenge you to first evaluate your values and rank them in importance. Write them down and keep them fresh in mind as you start playing the game. Changing or compromising ones values so you can grab that carrot held just out of reach is not what success is about.

We need great leaders whose decisions are driven by solid values. In today's climate, honesty, integrity and compassion are the values most important for a leader to possess. If a leader can act and make decisions that are driven by honesty and integrity and be compassionate in doing so, he or she has succeeded. We have enough leaders whose decisions are not value based. Your challenge will be to challenge the status quo and maintain your values as you ask yourself, "What's Important Now."


30 plus years said...

Excellent words of encouragement Sparky. As I read this I was thinking, “Oh no, he is going to say that all the seventh floor has compromised their values and principles to get promoted.” I thought this because so many of your followers in their comments have painted the seventh floor with the same brush. My Bad. You did not go there at all. You gave out excellent advise to everyone on the department no matter what their rank or position. As I finish up my career, I will be thinking every day, “What’s Important Now”. God and Family start my list. Thanks Sparky.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Steve. By the way things are now 'challenging the status quo' is all we have left. Since our 7th floor "leaders" refuse to go there we must, individually, have to do it ourselves...

A Supportive Captain said...

It is clear why the 7th floor refuses to promote you Steve. They can't handle the truth nor can their actions stand up to someone willing to point out their lack of values. Like 30 plus said, I thought you were going to call the 7th floor out for this failing. Your way of making us all think and reflect without singling anyone out is the knack of a true leader, mentor, professional. I applaud you for not wavering from your values.

Thank You.

Sergeant Nobody said...

Yes, yes, yes!!! Another one that tells it like it is and takes no prisoners. "What's Important Now" does not matter to the person who lacks values. That fits the profile of the majority (not all) of the 7th floor. The majority (not all) of the captains and many of the lieutenants. The promotion process breeds this by nature of the politics that must be played to succeed. The higher the individual aspires to reach the less his values matter as evidenced by the spineless so called leaders on this department.

You said it better Sparky. But I had to add my two cents.

Lucky Charm said...

"What's Important Now" for many of us is surviving what is going on with the San Diego Police Department. With the lack of support from the chiefs, captains and many lieutenants the moral of working officers and sergeants is the lowest I have seen in my 21 years. My family is and always will be what is important to me. My job is no longer on the list of what's important. The lack of support from those who should be giving it took that away. The desire is gone.

Thank you Sparky for the the words and continued voice for all of us who lack the ability to say what you do.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Sparky! You really gave me something to think about. Been thinking about it since I started studying for the test, but your blog REALLY hit me in the face. My family will always be important to me. Thanks for all you do!

Anonymous said...

EXACTLY why I have no desire to promote. I want to look at myself in the mirror when I shave in the morning and refuse to compromise my values to get a taste of the golden carrot. Why chase a wooded root to get a bite?

Keep these type of posts coming Steve. These are the types of writings people need to read to remember why we do what we do. You don't need to prostitute yourself to have a good career. Find a niche and job you enjoy and forget all the other crap.

It is amazing to watch from the sidelines like you say. The ass kissing, knocking each other out of the way to open a door and the politicking already taking place is enough to make you want to puke.

What ever happened to getting promoted for your work and work ethic and how you treat and interact with people? Oh yea, Bill Lansdowne et al.

Anonymous said...

Most of those whose values change were phony from the beginning. Several of the chiefs and captains were never real police officers. They were always looking for that opportunity to get ahead and did nothing that might draw negative attention to themselves.

Take the combined POII patrol time of the chiefs today and I guarantee it is less than 15 years. Take their combined Investigative time and it is even less. Is it any wonder they have not a clue what we do or put up with or are up against with the dwindling resources?

Its a real joke. You hit the nail on the head Steve. What's Important Now is vastly different the higher you go in this organisation.