Having been Sheriff now for 15 years, I look back on the many opportunities I have had to interact with our community and realize how lucky I am to be able to serve in this capacity. Probably my favorite activity is when I get have the opportunity to speak with our young people. I will be reaching out and speaking at one of our area schools next week, on good decision making. This is a subject which is near and dear to my heart as I have seen so many lives changed in a moment by either a good decision, or a bad decision. Even when we look at our amazing country, the ability to succeed is not limited by wealth or education but rather is many times a result of good decisions. We can all find examples of those born into great wealth and opportunity only to squander it through a series of bad decisions. In contrast there are also stories of persons born in absolute poverty or with no resources who, through a series of good decisions propel themselves to amazing heights. Even in our relationships, our ability to react to situations appropriately can either foster a relationship or destroy it, and because this process of making good decisions is not exclusive to young adults, I thought I would share a bit of my presentation for next week.
Each of us can look back on events which have changed the course of our lives. In some cases we have experienced joyous events which have propelled us forward in our personal or professional lives, while other events have been tragic which created struggle and stymied our growth as individuals. Although we have little to no control over the many and varied events which we will undoubtedly face throughout our lives, we can control our response to them by managing the thoughts they generate.
Why is this important? Because by controlling our thoughts we ultimately determine what emotions we will allow to surface, and subsequently what type of reaction we will exhibit. The ability to manage our thoughts and thus our reactions to events both good and bad can make the difference between success and failure in our personal and professional lives. We have all witnessed situations where we have seen individuals effectively manage a critical event while in other cases struggle or seemingly over react to a not so significant event. In many cases this is due to the ability or inability to control their initial thoughts as the event was unfolding.
I have witnessed this behavior unfold in so many ways throughout my years in law enforcement. I have seen people become unhinged at the prospect of receiving a minimal citation for speeding, while others have responded to unbelievable tragedy with an amazing level of calm and composure. I would submit that the difference has been the ability or inability to manage their thoughts and thus self regulate their responses. This skill is not inherent; it must be developed and maintained through practice. Each of us has the choice at any given moment in our lives to take the events which lie before us and do one of two things; use these events to make us stronger and grow our relationships, or use these events as a crutch and blame them for any and all shortcomings we perceive in our lives. I choose the former over the latter.
So the next time an event occurs in your life, whether that be in your personal or professional life, please take a moment to think of the thoughts you are generating and whether those thoughts will ultimately lead to a positive reaction or a negative reaction. We can use this approach every day when we wake up and either say to ourselves “What a bummer, I have to go to work” or you can say “Awesome, I get to go to work!” Either way, you are going to work, the difference is how you manage your emotions.
In the world we live in, there are very few things we actually have control over, but what we can control is our emotion which ultimately leads to our response. Having the ability to manage our thoughts and use those thoughts to improve the quality of our lives and that of our community is another example of the power of resiliency.