Chaplain's Column: New Year's Resolution--Re-invent Myself

Several years ago, there was a popular phrase making the talk show circuits, and discussed in the boardrooms and locker rooms across the nation. The phrase is "Re-invent yourself."

Exactly what does it mean to re-invent one's self? It is like a question asked of Jesus, " How can one be born again? He can't re-enter his mother's womb, can he?"

To determine what it means to "re-invent" something, let's look at what it means to invent something in the first place.

The dictionary defines "invent":

1. to think up
2. to create or produce for the first time

So it's reasonable to say "re-invent" means to think something up again, or to create or produce for the first time (again)--to re-create ourselves.

A friend once said to me, "You can't do what you have always done, and expect a different result," adding, "Change just one thing. One simple thing."

Ok, I can make one change. If my wife says I am insensitive, it conjures up a long list of things like put the toilet seat down, open the car door for her, take out the garbage, don't belch in front of her friends. The list could go on and on.

If I look at the entire list of stuff, it's overwhelming and I end up doing nothing at all.

Fact is, if I change just one thing, it will make a difference. It can make a noticeable difference. I decided I'd start opening the car door for her. It's simple, quick, and besides, I can make a big deal of it. It's noticeable.

We don't need to tackle everything in one day, or one week. Like the old adage, "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time."

What do I want to change about myself? What do I need to re- invent? As a law enforcement officer, what is it that bothers people about me, or is an impediment to me landing a promotion?

Here are some tips, little steps that can make a big difference in how people perceive you.

  1. Hair, including facial hair is an easy one. We can change style, cut off or grow a mustache (guys). Wear our hair in a different style, even do a color change. Change what will enhance the way you look. Most barbers and beauticians know the style that will go best with your facial features. They usually have magazines that will show how you will look.
  2. On of the worst offenses is being late for meetings. A simple thing you can do is set all clocks and watches 5 minutes fast. Even though you know they are set fast, something in us still drives us. So turn up the time.
  3. The biggest decision of the day for officers is where to go eat. Given the fact we usually eat two meals on duty, it can be a hard choice. Change, be the hero. Photocopy a couple of the restaurant pages from the phone book. You will always have suggestions.
  4. It is a bear to quit smoking. How can you do one thing that is helpful? For starters, throw away all ashtrays in your office and home. In your vehicles, pop out the ashtray and run it through the dishwasher. This simple elimination of ash trays gets you away for the smell, and having no ash trays discourages other from smoking around you.
  5. It has been said that clothes make the man (or woman). There is nothing worse that a sloppy uniform, scuffed shoes, and dull brass. Most departments won't let you get away with it at work, but what about the image you project off duty?
  6. If you are thin, have a tailor take up the slack in your shirtsleeves to make them fit tighter around your arm. If you wear blue jeans, consider having them dry cleaned or at least starched when they are washed. Always keep one of those "foam type" shoe polishers in your office and your car.
  7. Keep an electric razor and after-shave handy. When you need to put forth a good front it takes just a few simple things to make you look more professional.

So this year, rather than a long list of difficult resolutions, you won't keep anyway. re-invent yourself, one thing at a time. Just a few simple changes can turn your life around and the way people perceive you.