Building on Your Success

Counting Your Victories and Finding Opportunities for Success

If you stop to think about the path you’ve traveled, the challenges you have overcome, and the sacrifices you have made (and will make) in the name of public service, it is fair to be proud of what you have accomplished. When you consider the current population of 319 million U.S. citizens is protected by approximately 950,000 men and women in law enforcement and 470,000 in corrections, you can unequivocally boast: you are one of the nation's "finest”. Given these numbers, realize how fortunate you are to be one among a specialized group--a microcosm of sorts--with vast responsibility.

Take another moment to reminisce about the months of intense and unrelenting training leading up to your swearing-in ceremony. This phase was tough, a stepping stone that equated to more success. Now, flashback to post-academy duty, ponder your probationary months on the job and the myriad lessons you gleaned thus far. You should start to realize that the position you are in now, was built upon success after success.

Earning a role in the criminal justice system is a monumental step, one which has a great degree of autonomy. This, in and of itself, is a success not many in our society get bestowed. The level of responsibility and trust you receive as a peace officer was given to you because of your persona, character and courage. In actuality, the aforementioned traits add up to form a bundle of successes, stemming from what you brought to the table, and how you were further molded into the stellar officer you are today.

Recalling Successful Moments

Do you think about your first arrest? Or how you comforted the victim of a crime? The feeling of accomplishment is amazing. I recall my first arrest vividly, as if it were yesterday. A true rite of passage to slap on the handcuffs and transport two convicted felons to county jail. The adrenaline rush of doing good (victories) is incomparable. Needless to say, I experienced numerous successes to be had and I enjoyed my career.

Ponder your role as a gatekeeper much? Do you catch yourself validating the impressive work of you and your fellow correctional officers who house convicted murderers, robbers, child abusers, rapists? In another article published here, we discussed the importance of a positive attitude. Remember that your daily success stories (both small and large) exemplify how you feel about your role. Maintaining a positive attitude and celebrating your triumphs, is an important part of maintaining your well-being, which will also keep you prepared, alert and safe.

Do you remember your first evaluation on the job? If you received a passing score, that is a success. If you received the grade: "Exceeded agency expectations and standards" then you have another bundle of successes. The wins mount gradually. Down the road, beyond cadet-level experiences, you will see monumental achievements, each of which you can justifiably revel in.

Obscure Victories

Besides the success stories recorded in department evaluations, there is typically a bevy of wonderful successes not often publicized. This is not to say these obscure victories are unworthy of attention, they are merely not heralded. Humans are a species ripe with pride. With that said, it is quite often that peace officers perform duties beyond prescriptions and cater from their hearts. No recognition is sought. This is Righteousness 101.

Lately, we have been blasted by a media blitzkrieg laden with anti-police sentiments. However biased I may be, it does not take much effort, if any, to recognize an immeasurable number of instances involving men and women in uniform performing duties of significant proportions. Remember, there is ample reward for criminal justice practitioners who routinely exhibit "goodness-of-the-heart".

Without seeking any credit, incredibly dutiful acts are being performed by peace officers across the American landscape. Police officers buying Christmas gifts for economically hard-hit families; corrections officers ensuring holiday cards are being sorted promptly for inmates; criminal justice administrators recognizing great duty performances at the department's Christmas party. A multitude of fine examples exists, just not necessarily on TV or from your favorite media sites.

Take a closer look for yourself and you will determine that peace officers everywhere are part of great successes and at amazing rates. You may be included in this lot. Hats off to you! In the event that you aren't, get busy! You have an entire career ahead of you. Each new day presents opportunity for you to seize moments and generate victories. Whether you are working on the streets or in a prison facility, partake in personal and/or professional enrichment.

Immeasurable Success

In a word: Family. Your arduous work resulting in successes is parlayed into positive feelings enjoyed by your family and loved ones. Pride in what you do for a living, what you do to sustain your family, is exemplified via each and every smile you help place on your significant other's face. Moreover, if with child/children, each happy moment is because of you and what you provide, thanks to your courage to don a uniform and fill a dangerous role.

Other immeasurable success stories stem from being a public servant. The cycle of life can be vexing sometimes. Conversely, life can be utterly rewarding. Either way, you are equipped to achieve. When you seize opportunities to affect change in the lives of others, you set the ball in motion for many more to follow. Whether on the streets or in a correctional institution, share with your family the life you saved. It’s fine to be proud and to celebrate. You earned it.

Impacting Lives

Every solved issue is a victory not only for you, your agency, and that particular person, but for the collective: society. Resoundingly equitable is the role of a correctional officer in his/her efforts to help rehabilitate an inmate. So, too, is it a huge feat for a police officer to save a child from peril. Your actions are scrutinized and, when deemed exceptional, rewarded appropriately. However, I submit, the true reward is successfully impacting lives.

Vicariously, the newest batch of cadets are watching, learning, emulating. This factor translates to students who are observing how experienced professionals do their jobs. Helping to mold the rookies is yet another success story. Passing the torch to a newer generation comes with dignity and respect.


Adhering to your agency/institution policies, rules, and regulations is another success. There is a difference between achieving victory by abiding by rules versus deviating from them yet still producing a positive outcome. The adage "the ends justifies the means" ushers in some skepticism. Ensure your work shines and does not tarnish. Take the route cemented by integrity and you can not go wrong. Form solid successes so that they last infinitely in the annals of your department...with your name attached.

To maintain your reputation, stay the virtuous course and abstain from nefarious scenarios and activities. Disallow your potential of success from splintering before it materializes. As you learned in the academy, discipline is crucial and must be steadfastly honored. A surefire way to relinquish, bastardize, and obliterate your rates of success is to let your guard down and settle for mediocrity. Don't do it!

Find Success in Helping People

Seek not colorful medals and ribbons, gleaming trophies, or ornate plaques. Your duty is to people, not acquisitions. Strive to build your name (professional reputation), not your mantel collection. Do not get cocky after you are recognized for a great feat. Instead, use your latest success story as an investment in more possibilities. If awards are bestowed, receive them without expectation. If you are concentrated on amassing material goods (trophy pieces) then you may be in the wrong profession. Changing your outlook (attitude) is always an option.

You didn't get into this profession to fail yourself and/or others. Do good and good will come to you! As Manunath Harlapur once coined: "Nothing can subtract hard work from success, only add to it." Fulfill your attested Constitutional oath professionally. Doing so lends well to harnessing your personal constitution as a criminal justice practitioner serving people. The duality is a clear success.