The topic of this article has been rerun more times than The Honeymooners, but it bears repeating for this generation of aspiring officers. I have heard all the excuses, whining, finger-pointing, blaming and just plain old bitching. Well, before you proceed with this diatribe of your lack of stripes. take some advice. Practice your speech to me in the mirror first; face your nemesis there. By the way, be sure to point your finger as well, for if there is one finger pointing at the mirror; then there are three pointing back at you. In other words, you better have your act together to the third power before giving this oration.
Hand grenades, mechanics, and classmates
There are several methodologies that I have observed in the past. Those in the woefully inadequate category will use these for posturing themselves from the exceptionally well qualified but it never works.
My all-time favorite is "hand grenade management," and is practiced by someone on nearly every eligibility list. This is when the candidate ensures success in his or her own mind by trying to destroy or undermine everyone else on the list. This "the last man standing will get promoted" strategy may work, but often doesn't. It is similar to the old battlefield blood-stripe promotions from yesteryear. When everyone else is dead or dying, the last man standing is in charge. These types are seen wandering the halls of the department and spreading vile, vicious rumors and innuendos. It is as if they walk past every open door, look, pull the pin and lob the grenade inside. These rumor mongers are never popular and most often are pegged by upper management due to lack of friends.
I have been here twenty years and I am still an officer!
This is the battle cry for those who believe in attrition, otherwise known as the longevity-lovers. I will be the first to admit that experience should count, but then what kind of experience do you bring to the table? My retort to this curmudgeon is this question: if you sat in a garage for twenty years, would you turn into a master mechanic or a Buick? Neither, for one must get their hands dirty to become a master mechanic and have valuable experience and training along the way. Sitting on the big arrest you made fifteen years ago does not cut it. When football coach Jerry Glanville was with the Atlanta Falcons, he said, "This is the NFL, and it stands for Not For Long around here." In other words, what have you done, not only lately, but consistently for the agency and your self improvement? If you have to rehash ancient history, then you fall into Coach Glanville's "Not For Long" category.
I can't believe...
...that my classmate got promoted over me! I have been here as long as he or she has and...this isn't fair. Again, an old Southern adage is that "Life ain't fair; the fair is where you take your kids in November." Promotions are never fair to those who are not in front of the crowd. Sometimes, we have all had to have a serving of reality orientation offered to us. We have to sit down and look not only where we are coming from, but where the department is headed as well.
I myself have had a few promotions in my career get past me, but I compensated and overcame. One was the slap in the face that I needed to get my butt back into college and this time actually finish it! The other one was "it is not what this job offers, you but what line you are standing in." When I felt that I was plateau-ed out with one agency, I proceeded to the chief's arena. Got slapped around there a few times in assessments or panels, but still made the goal.
Research your goal in life, and you may find it is not measured in stripes. I knew one corporal who was what I considered top-shelf sergeant material. However, he never put in for it; he was happy. In that department, promotion meant going to bad days off, bottom of the time-in-grade list, and change of precincts. His time off with family and personal time were far too valuable to him. He was happy and still garnered the respect of all, for he was an outstanding officer. Sometimes, life is more important than its hassles.