The Failure’s Approach to Career Success

How do you define success, and how do you intend to pursue that? It’s an important pair of questions. What’s more, if you aren’t careful, the answer to the second question might just undermine your answer to the first.

How so?

When people start in policing there really only two directions for success. They are upwards and sideways – promotion or specialisation. I say there are only ‘two’ because even if you opt for specialisation you can still only then choose sub-specialisation or upward mobility, and the latter tends to be within that specialisation until you get giddy with how high you’ve got. But I do know that (in general) a failure to specialise at the beginning tends to result in an inability to specialise after promotion begins. It’s not a universal position but in general, if you ain’t in CID when you get your stripes, you generally can’t go back. (Or maybe that was just my own Force.)

Back to Q1. You’ve decided which direction it is you want to direct your efforts. Then you decide that you will get there ‘no matter what’. And it is that decision that will hamper your efforts. The decision to put that objective above all others – to strive, to push towards getting what you want.

Because we know what pushing tends to mean. ‘You are/that is in the way, so I will bypass (you/it) in my selfish effort to progress.’

Result? Broken relationships, warped attitudes, distrust from below and above, and the strange, ego-driven belief that ‘they’re all out to get me’ or the simply confused ‘I’ve done what I need to do; why hasn’t that got me what I want?’

Any worthy end requires a worthy means. As one old story put it, a man declared he would ‘earn a million whatever happens’, and when it didn’t happen as planned or as soon as he expected he started to cut corners, walk over people, bend rules and ignore processes and protocols. He got his million, lost his family (happens a lot), went broke and went to prison.

One of the things that most bemused me as a Fraud Squad Detective was observing that if the people I convicted had put as much effort into obtaining cash legally as they did through scheming, then they’d still have the money and not the conviction and small room behind a big wall. Seriously, the intelligence they displayed in their planning, and the effort involved in their scamming, would have made their lives pleasantly lucrative instead of ludicrously punitive. (I really stretched that one.)

My examples may not automatically register as valid in policing terms, but ask yourself: do you know or have you heard of anyone who either (a) lost their position, reputation, job or even their liberty in the pursuit of their definition of success or (b) you really hope will suffer those penalties because of the way they act towards people? The people in the second group my not suffer in an obvious manner, but I assure you even their reputational damage will bite them sooner or later.

The same questions (and consequences of response) apply just as much in your personal life as it does in your professional efforts. How would you want your relationships to go? How will you raise your kids? Will you earn buckets, never see them but feel content they each have an iPad with your picture on it? Or will you provide a home, time and love that they’ll remember for ever?

This is a time management blog, so you might be wondering what this has to do with it?

How much time will you spend regretting inappropriate motives and wasted efforts, and the loss of time you spent upon them, when defining your WHAT and your WHY properly at the outset will maximise your chances of achieving your answer to Question 1?

The last two chapters in my book will help you in saving a lot of time getting where you want to be so that you can enjoy it for a lot longer.

Published by policetimemanagement

30 year policing veteran and time management authority. Now I've combined the two.

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