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7 realistic opportunities for officer growth in 2015

Growth is something we can all achieve regardless of what stage of your life or career you’re presently at

It would be easy to look back on 2014 in frustration. Law enforcement took a beating in the media in the last year. We were the target of professional profiling by a small — but very loud — group of politicians, special interest groups and citizens with an agenda who would like people to believe we are racist murderers.

Worst of all, for the 70th year in a row we suffered more than 100 line-of-duty deaths.

Instead of looking back at 2014, look ahead to 2015 and challenge yourself to make it an opportunity for growth.

1. Grow Pride
Hold your head up high knowing that you are part of an honorable, demanding, complex, challenging and rewarding profession. Grow pride in the fact that you have chosen to serve your community and your country as a law enforcement professional. Grow pride in the uniform you wear and the badge you carry because of what they represent. Grow pride in the reality that your community is safer because you have chosen to serve.

2. Grow Courage
Grow the courage to do what is right even when it is not what is popular or what is expedient. Grow the courage to address dangerous or negative behaviors with your peers, those you supervise and those who may be of a higher rank. Grow the courage to stand up and own up when you make a mistake and move forward better off for the experience.

3. Grow Leadership
Grow a culture of leadership in your agency by teaching and modelling leadership at all levels of the organization. Grow a leadership culture by ensuring everyone is speaking the same language. Grow leadership by having the courage to address those who deviate from the mission or the core values of the agency. Grow leadership by making leadership a culture, not a course.

4. Grow Personally
Grow personally by choosing to invest in your personal growth. Grow personally by reading books, listening to audio books, podcasts or recorded presentations. Grow personally by watching a TED talk ( a week in 2015. Grow personally by investing in your health and fitness. Grow personally by taking online courses, or participating on webinars or other growth activities.

5. Grow Professionally
Grow professionally by make a commitment to professional excellence in 2015. Take courses whenever you can. Grow professionally by taking on new responsibilities. Grow professionally by taking the initiative to make things better in your work assignment. Grow professionally by having a positive attitude at work,by learning to find the good in the job, situations and people. Grow professionally by attending at least one work related course, conference or seminar on your own time in 2015.

6. Grow Relationships
Grow the relationship with your family by making them a priority in 2015 and spending quality time with your spouse, your children, your parents, your siblings and family. Grow relationships at work by building people up instead of tearing them down. Grow relationships with the communities you serve by being proactive, finding out what their priorities are and working to maintain open lines of communication, dialogue, debate, and discussion.

7. Grow the Next Generation
Grow the next generation of law enforcement professionals by embracing the positives they bring to the profession. Grow the next generation by being more intentional about mentoring. Take time to listen to the next generation, and in doing so, allow them to teach and mentor you as well.

Growth is something we can all achieve regardless of what stage of your life or career you’re presently at. Growth however, does not just happen. Growth requires action, and effective growth requires intentional, focused, and continual action. Make the commitment in 2015 to always be better tomorrow than you are today by growing every day in at least one of these seven areas.

Brian Willis is an internationally-recognized thought leader, speaker, trainer, and writer. Brian serves as the Deputy Executive Director for the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association and is President of the training company Winning Mind Training. Brian was a full time police officer with the Calgary Police Service from 1979 to 2004. He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his contribution and commitment to Officer Safety in Canada and was named Law Officer Trainer of the Year for 2011.