I’m starting with the man in the mirror.” Those of us old enough to remember the Michael Jackson hit “Man in the Mirror” might connect these words to that song.
There’s no doubt that police trainers are frequently emulated by younger cops. I know I was. I once heard a military bud of mine tell a group of high school students that no GI will ever forget the name of his drill sergeant. Staff Sgt. Tucker was mine. The same can be said for cops. Think back. Do you remember your basic recruit class counselor or academy director? I do. Lt. Delmar Leach.
What was it that made these people so memorable? For some GIs, it might have been their DI’s “tough as nails” attitude or military bearing. For me, it was Sgt. Tucker’s leadership persona and confidence.
With regard to Lt. Leach, it was his image: His demeanor, his uniform, his posture. Everything about this man screamed “professional.”
My buddy Lt. Jim Glennon, the new owner of Calibre Press and the Street Survival Seminar, wrote a great book, Arresting Communication. Chapter 2 deals with communication, but I love the chapter name, “Look in the Mirror.” Great advice for every trainer.
How about you? What image are you sending to your students? Sure, professional credentials are important. Trainers need them. You can’t be teaching street tactics if your entire work history has been spent in the community services unit. Likewise, if the only time you’ve spent on the range has been during annual (or, better, quarterly) firearms qualifications, don’t try to pass yourself off as an expert on delivering deadly force.
Image is everything. I recently joined the Vietnam Veterans with Diabetes Club. Thanks to Dow Chemical and the widespread use of Agent Orange in ‘Nam during 1968–1969, I was recently diagnosed with Type-2 diabetes.
In trying to stay off “the needle,” my doc has put me on a hardcore diet and insane workout plan. Thanks to my beautiful wife, I’m down to my fighting weight again, the fittest I’ve been in more than 20 years. In fact, I’ve lost so much weight I’ve had to have all my suits altered. I look better. I feel better. And I know it comes across.
Take a look at the man (or woman) in the mirror. What kind of image are you presenting to your students? Do you scream professionalism? Or are you passing yourself off as something you’re not? Like Michael Jackson said, you might want to “take a look at yourself then make the change.”