A few days into the new year, I sat down during my morning ritual (see # 10) and pondered the lessons that the past decade offered me. Here is a list of the highlights. Maybe you can glean something from them as well as you take your first few steps into the new decade.
1) Preparation is the key to everything. The way our officers and staff performed during the mass shooting in our city validated for me that we really do fall to the level of our training. Invest in people. Invest in equipment. Then put both of those things together and go through all the training scenarios you can think of so that when it’s not a drill, you’ve already been through it in a controlled space. You play like you practice.
1.5) Lesson number one isn’t just for police street survival — it’s for life. If you aren’t preparing and bettering yourself with each passing year, you will remain stagnant. This doesn’t mean that you have to get a degree or climb a mountain, but you do have to commit yourself to constant self-improvement. Read a book, take a class, fix a bad habit. Figure out what things you need to start doing and what things you need to stop doing to get better.
2) Life is precious. I already knew this but now I really get it. I felt it when I was in the command post during the shooting and didn’t know if our five shot officers were alive or dead. I felt it in all of my molecules when I attended the funerals of the five human beings who were killed that day. The pain of their family members brought me to my knees. I’ve seen and felt this kind of pain before but this time it was different. It brought clarity to the notion that we are only here on earth for a very short time.
3) Air Pod Pros were the best purchase ever. The noise-canceling feature has changed my life. I love babies but not when they are screaming on an airplane.
4) Stop trying to win over the haters. You are not the jackass whisperer.
The ridiculous name-calling and bullying that happens over social-media and behind computer screens is so infinitesimally inconsequential in the big scheme of things. I have to come to a place in my life where I genuinely don’t care what the critics are saying because they are cowards making noise from the cheap seats. Any chump can sit behind a computer and spout off. I only take criticism from those who are on the front lines with me with their sleeves rolled up doing the work. The rest is just noise. This has brought me so much peace. Just put on your noise-canceling headphones and keep doing what you do.
5) Pay attention to what you pay attention to. Energy goes where your attention flows so if you find yourself obsessing over the little things, change your focus.
6) I lost a few relationships over the past few years and I was struggling to understand how I failed to see what they had been revealing to me all along. Now that I have some time and distance, the clarity is shocking. I have learned that addition by subtraction is real.
7) As my kids enter adulthood, I was mourning their absence from the house and the fact that they aren’t children anymore. But what I realized this year is that I don’t just love my kids — I really like them as human beings. They are smart and kind and funny and it’s really cool to be able to hang out with your family because you want to — not because you have to. Parenting is hard but try and build good kids who contribute to society. Also, provide just enough dysfunction to make them funny. 😆
8) Don’t practice blind loyalty. Stand with people when they are right, but have the courage to question and part with them when they go wrong.
9) I still hate mushrooms. Every year I try to like them but this year was a no go. I’ll keep trying.
10) Morning routines affect productivity. I started waking up at 5:30 a.m. so I could set my intentions for the day. My routine consists of:
- Brewing coffee.
- Meditating while the coffee is brewing (my mediation time record is 7 minutes).
- Writing down 3 things for which I am grateful.
- Writing down 3 things about which I am excited.
- Outlining my schedule and tasks for the day.
- Exercise. I am obsessed with my Peloton.
I read about how successful people have strict morning routines and I decided to try it. It totally works! The meditation is still a struggle for me because I have the attention span of a 5-year-old but I have found that by starting the day with gratitude and intention, I am in a mindset of abundance versus scarcity. When I see my day outlined by schedule and tasks, I am better able to keep on track. Seriously, this is life-altering. I use this planner.
11) Even when you think you understand something, you don’t. I think of myself as enlightened when it comes to race relations but I’ve come to realize that there is no way I can comprehend the plight of another no matter how empathic I believe I am. I read 3 books in 2019 that made me realize my level of ignorance:
- Biased by Jennifer Eberhardt
- When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrice Khan-Cullors
- Talking to Strangers by Malcom Gladwell
In a time where the minority community does not trust the police, I have sought to gain a deeper understanding so we can find ways to build bridges. Each of these authors helped me understand the depth and the breadth of societal and racial disparity and while I will never be able to fully comprehend the plight, I am determined to try. The best thing about trust is that it is not finite. We can build it if we seek first to understand, and then be understood.
12) Someone nice to you but not nice to a person in any service industry is not a nice person. Kindness matters.
13) You’re not too busy. You just haven’t made that person or thing a priority. No one is that important or that busy so stop saying you are.
14) Hurt people hurt people. The way others treat you is just a reflection of how they feel about themselves. Don’t take it personally.
15) “Okay.” vs. “Okay!” mean two different things when written. Punctuation matters. I have also accidentally conveyed a harsh tone via text or e-mail when my intention was to be just the opposite. The lesson here: important conversations are best had in-person.
16) Complaining is useless so stop doing it. If you’re upset about something in your life and can change it, do so. The victim mentality is unappealing.
17) Your inner-circle matters. Surround yourself with people who don’t drag you down. If they steal your energy, it’s time to subtract them. Surround yourself with people who call you on your bullsh$% and make you want to be better. Surround yourself with people who do things and help you contribute to the world in a good way. Your tribe tells me everything I need to know about you.
18) It’s okay to ask for help. The strongest and most bad-assed people I know are those who have the courage to reach out when they are struggling. Struggling is real and it’s different from complaining.
19) When something scares you, that probably means you should pursue it. Opportunities will not wait for the perfect moment so when it knocks, maybe it’s time to open the door. Then blow the door off its hinges.
20) And through it all, don’t forget to laugh. As my friend and colleague Jeff Wiencek says, “laughter is like shocks on a car — it makes going over the bumps much easier.”
I wish you a happy and productive 2020 filled with laughter and love.
Onward and upward.