Installment 12: New Adventure, New Opportunity

Don’t Want to Read the Whole Thing? Check out the video excerpt here:

July 21, 2019

 Happy Sunday VFOT friends and followers. We’re in the middle of the heatwave of 2019 and it is HOT here in New England. We’re not used to this, so lots of indoor activities and AC this weekend. I was actually on an impromptu “staycation” for the 1st week of this reporting period, so this post is going to be a little disjointed….no regular schedule when I don’t need to go into work.

I actually decided to take the week off, because my Jiu-jitsu instructors were traveling to Miami for annual affiliate training with Professor Maia, and I wanted to be available to cover some classes. That decision paid lots of unintended benefits.

Pro-Reading

I didn’t adhere to my regular pro-reading schedule during my time off, although I did do a lot of reading. As a result, I didn’t finish Quite Leadership (Rock, David. (2006) Quite Leadership. New York, NY: Harper Collins) until the middle of last week. Having completed it, I’m feeling better about it.

As I stated in an earlier post, Rock’s premise is that a leader’s job is to teach their followers to “think” differently. This seems a little overbearing, but upon reflection, it makes a lot of sense. More on that in a moment.

Ironically, while I was wrapping up Quiet Leadership, one of the books that I had in the rotation in my secondary reading was Leaders Eat Last by Sinek (Sinek, Simon. (2014) Leaders Eat Last. New York, NY: Portfolio/Penguin.). I’d had the good fortune to see Mr. Sinek speak during a keynote at an IACP Conference a couple of years ago, but hadn’t gotten around to any of his books. His premise is significantly different than Rocks, but it aligns.   img_9795

Essentially, the premise in Leaders is that human beings are wired for a scarcity existence and when we operate from a scarcity mindset, we focus on cooperation. In this environment, leaders focus on creating “circles of safety” in the workplace, and people feel protected and part of the village. This is good for long-term success and sustainability. Unfortunately, most of us exist in circumstances of abundance. When we operate from an abundance mindset, we focus on competition. As a result, we concentrate on short-term gains. This is effective for short-term results, but often result in people feeling isolated from the team. This can have disastrous long-term results. Sinek sites numerous examples from our relatively recent corporate history.

The interesting part from both authors, is that neither of these premises are based solely on choice. They’re based on brain chemistry. Rock spends chapters explaining how neuroscience has demonstrated how the brain creates neural pathways, and how existing pathways impact decision making. Sinek details how the interplay between endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin in our brains and endocrine system, impacts not only our feelings of safety and inclusion, but our decisions about how we interact with others.

This is complicated stuff, but it is very powerful. These books, together with Atomic Habits and The 3rd Alternative (see previous blog entries), offer compelling reasons for leaders to re-examine not only what decisions our teams make, but how and why they make decisions. This material, together with the recent lessons from my Facilitated Learning for Adult Learners course have truly given me a lot to think about and to work with.

Other Reading 

During my secondary reading, I finished Thunder at the Gates, and picked up a new book that I’m just getting started on. This book, Lethal Force and the Objectively Reasonable Officer: Law, Liability, Policy, Tactics, and Survival, was written by the instructor of my recent Lethal Force training, John Michael Callahan. (Callahan, John, Michael. (2015) Lethal Force and the Objectively Reasonable Officer: Law, Liability, Policy, Tactics, and Survival. Flushing, NY. Looseleaf Press.) Like I said, I’m just getting started, but I’ve been teaching Use of Force for nearly 20 years, and I’m already getting a lot out of it.

I’ve got another book in the rotation for fun, but I’ve barley cracked into it, so more on that at a future date.

Other Learning Opportunities 

Despite the fact that I was on time off last week, I did have the opportunity to attend a professional class that doesn’t come to the area too often. Last Wednesday, my Training Officer and I traveled down to New Haven, CT to attend the Police Executive Research Forum’s Integrating Communication, Assessment, and Tactics (ICAT) Train the Trainer course. I’d previously attended the Commonweath’s ICAT Instructor Course, but I thought we should get the raw source material, so we made the trip. I’m glad that we did.

As I stated in the intro, one of the reasons to take some time off was to cover some classes at the dojo. I always learn more when I’m working to teach, so I got quite a bit out of covering the few classes that I did.

I started my personal development coaching with my first of several coaching sessions and completing an online assessment to develop a priority map for the next couple of years. I’m looking forward to this process.

I started doing some work with some “prompt decks.” These are basically decks of cards that contain writing prompts or challenges. I’m just getting started with them, so I’m not ready to report out yet, but I’m sure you’ll be hearing more from me about them.

I also made a decision last week, regarding my continuing education. I’m still early in the application process, so I’m not ready to share a lot of details left, but it looks like I’ll be going back to school in the Fall.

FUN 

Of course, taking time off equates to fun. During my scheduled time off, I managed to get in several bike rides, a couple of weighted ruck marches and a lot of Jiu-jitsu. On one day, I managed to do all 3. However, I don’t remember Jiu-jitsu after a ruck. It was a lot.

C and I started the week with a beautiful dinner at an outdoor trattoria with some good friends. We’ve had a couple of great date nights. We had a fun Saturday out with a visit to our local running center to get her new “go-fasts”, followed by visits to a couple of local wineries.

I experimented with intermittent fasting for a couple of days, and actually had some pretty good success.

Last night, we traveled down to The Big E. One of my teammates from the dojo had a title challenge fight and we went down to watch a stacked card. The outcome wasn’t what we wanted, but the turnout and support from the team was amazing.

b9d971e3-5943-476a-879f-0d4e451625ea

Well, that’s quite a bit, and more than enough for now. Until next time….

Be Safe, Keep the Faith, Do Good Work, 1*

Installment 11: New Adventure, New Opportunity

July 7, 2019

Happy Sunday VFOT friends and followers. Summer is in full swing, here in the Berkshires and it’s been a busy couple of weeks, so let’s get right to it.

Pro-Reading
My pro-reading selection remains Quiet Leadership by David Rock (Rock, David. (2006). Quite Leadership. New York, NY: Harper Collins.). I’m nearing the end of it and am a little torn about how I feel about it. I’m really intrigued by the science, but uncertain as to how I feel about the approach. Rock’s basic premise is that a leader’s job is to teach their team members how to think differently. Rather than giving direction and providing answers, quiet leaders reframe conversations in order to get their team members to grow and expand their mental models or maps, enabling them to provide their own direction and solve their own problems.

It’s very reminiscent of Covey’s 3rd Alternative approach. While I’m enjoying the book and taking away some great stuff, the 6 steps that Rock outlines seem a little contrived. Maybe I’ll have to experiment with it before I pass any real judgement, but I’m not sure what that will look like. More to come on that in the future.

Mornings have been being wrapped up with Habukkuk and more Whitman.

Other Reading
My secondary reading continues to be Thunder at the Gates, by Douglas R. Egerton (Egerton, Douglas, R. (2016). Thunder at the Gates. New York, NY: Basic Books.) This has been a page turner. I’m through the spring of 1865. Richmond and Charleston have fallen and Lee has surrendered. The men of the 54th, 55th, and 5th Cavalry featured in this book displayed conspicuous gallantry in some horrific battles. I’m embarrassed that I know so little about these historic units. I grateful that Marc gifted me this book and I’m looking forward to finishing it in the next couple of days.

Other Learning Opportunities
Early in this period, I traveled with a couple of my senior staff to the eastern part of the state to attend an instructor update on “Facilitated Learning.” This program is a prerequisite for Academy instructors who will be teaching under our new statewide Academy curriculum. It was interesting, and it’s fascinating to see how student expectations have evolved in the 20 years that I’ve been instructing. I’m a little worried about how this is going to play out in police training, but so far, it’s showing progress. I guess we’ll see.

I also started a new round of personal development coaching, so I’m looking forward to spending some time self-reflecting, visioning, and planning for the next couple of years.

Writing
I’ve actually had the opportunity to do a little bit of work on some writing projects. Besides regular journaling and maintaining this project, I’ve done some more outlining on another new project. I also invested in some prompt cards to see if they’ll help me in generating some new ideas. I’m looking forward to experimenting with them.

FUN
Summer in the Berkshires is made for fun, but it also means a lot of social obligations in support of the community. It’s been busy, but we’ve certainly been able to enjoy it.

Despite quite few evening work commitments, I’ve managed to get regular jiu-jitsu training in over the last couple of weeks. I feel good about that, because next week, we’ll be covering classes for Professor Mark and Professor Connie, while they attend affiliate training with Professor Maia. Need to be sharp if I’m going to assist with that.

C and I were fortunate to attend an amazing event celebrating the departure of the CEO of our local United Way. It was a spectacular event, attended by a Who’s Who of local leaders, and it made for a great night out as our date night.

Last weekend we spent some time catching up on some chores around the house, then decided to just enjoy our home by putting on some music and sitting on the deck. It’s the 1st time that we’ve been able to do that this year. Once the bugs came out and we headed inside, I found out that Professor Maia’s UFC fight was being carried on regular cable, so I got to settle in and watch that. Bonus!

On Wednesday, we tried a new adventure. One of my college professors was playing a free concert with her husband in the Bascom Lodge on the top of Mount Greylock. For date night, we drove up the mountain, enjoyed the concert with a glass of wine, then headed back to town in time for a nice dinner at The Lantern. It was a beautiful Berkshire evening.


Thursday was Independence Day. It’s the longest work day of the year for our Department. Once I got home from the Parade and C got back after her run and walk in the parade, we got to go visit with friends at a holiday cookout. Since the host was one of my training partners, several families from the dojo were there. It was a great afternoon, followed by an amazing dinner on the deck at the new Lakeside Bar and Grill.

6608df11-6252-4d54-b5fe-69b96bd52590

Friday was a short day at work, so I got home early. I’d been planning on training, but the gym was closed for a family emergency. That’s ok, C had a plan B. We decided to head out to Balderdash to enjoy a glass of wine with a view. On the way, I remembered that Tim was in town. With a little prompting, we got Tim, Chuck and eventually Paula to join us for an impromptu celebration of friendship at the winery. It was a perfect way to end the week.

Yesterday, it was Jits in the morning, then off to Marlborough for the annual summer cookout with C’s family. We had a great time visiting, before getting up this morning to share a big breakfast to energize us for the trip back down the Pike for home.

All in all, it’s been a pretty good couple of weeks to start the summer season. Good food, good friends, wine, scenery, music and more. Life is calling.

That’s all for now. Until next time.

Be Safe, Keep the Faith, Do Good Work, 1*