I’m always amazed when I remember that every cop has to attend an academy and pass pretty tough physical standards in order to graduate. One day, they are the cream of the crop and ready to take on the world.
A few years later, most are overweight and totally out of shape. How does this happen?
Learn to Beat the Excuses
Recently, I found myself sitting at bustling LAX airport heading back to the San Francisco Bay Area. I suddenly got a text from my lieutenant. “Unless you made other arrangements, we have no one to cover the second half of your shift tonight. You’ll have to work the entire shift and then go to your Emergency Vehicle Operations Course immediately afterward.”
“I went to the gym later that day and got in a killer training session. The rest of the week was rough, but I got in my gym time.”
Oh, joy. Prior to receiving that message, I thought that a few hours after landing, I would be going in to work at 6:40pm and getting off at midnight. The midnight quit time would leave me plenty of time to go home and catch some zzz’s before heading out to my training course the following morning. Instead, I was sitting in the airport having just finished chugging a thirty-ounce iced coffee and realizing I was likely going to be awake for forty hours before I got to go to sleep again.
I immediately start reassessing my training plans for the week. I had the perfect excuse to not train. I needed to go to sleep. Go home from the airport and try and climb into bed for a bit, I thought. Unfortunately, I knew that going home and trying to sleep was not going to happen because of the coffee. Plus, I work a twelve-hour shift three days a week.
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During those three days, I plan on one solid training day (ninety-plus minutes) and one less intensive day. If I skipped training after landing back in the Bay Area, I knew the plan would be shot. No good days of training. I’d be lucky to get in one mediocre day by my third workday. I squelched the excuses playing around in my head. I went to the gym later that day and got in a killer training session. The rest of the week was rough, but I got in my gym time.
The Excuses Snowball Effect
This story is typical of any police officers working any shift, but even more so for you guys and gals working the off-hour shifts of swing and graveyard. The unknown and unknowable of time management can wreak havoc on your training plans. Throw in family responsibilities and commute time to work, and there is an excuses snowball effect.
- “I’ll take today off and train tomorrow for sure.”
- “I’ll take this week off and hit it hard again next week.”
- “I’ll take the next two weeks off and start the first of next month.”
- “My New Year’s resolution is to start training again.”
- “Oh man, my uniform pants split when I tried to pick up my ink pen that I dropped.”
Avalanche! The snowball has rolled right over you. The next thing you know some new rookies start at the department and you are telling tales about how great of shape you were in when you got out of the academy. It’s a sad story that has played out millions of times at police departments across the country.
Admit the Real Reason for Skipping Training
How do you avoid getting bowled over by the snowball? How about you stop making excuses? It sounds so simple and something we’ve all heard over and over and over again. But unfortunately, the advice is not so easy to follow.
“Anything I tell you, you’ve likely already heard and you already know. Are you skipping training because you can’t or because you don’t want to?”
The other night I was talking to a fellow officer in the break room. We were talking about how he had not been training of late. He went through the laundry list of excuses.
- “My daughters are playing soccer, so that has been taking up a lot of my off time.”
- “My wife is pissed that I’m working so much so she doesn’t want me to go to the gym on my off days.”
- “I have so much work to do around the house.”
- “My commute has been taking extra long with my new hours at work.”
Finally, he just looked at me and said, “Damn, I’ve just been lazy.”
Take Accountability for Your Actions
Does it sound familiar? How many of those excuses have you used yourself? The reality is excuses are just you being lazy. You weren’t lazy when you prepared yourself to get hired as a police officer. You weren’t lazy when you attended the academy. You weren’t lazy when you went through your agency’s field training program. You weren’t lazy when you made it through your agency’s probationary period. What happened?
I can write an article called “5 Tips To Avoid Being Lazy.” But unfortunately, lazy is on you, my brothers and sisters in blue. Anything I tell you, you’ve likely already heard and you already know. Are you skipping training because you can’t or because you don’t want to?
Look in the mirror and take some accountability for yourself.
Photo 2 courtesy of Shutterstock.