Simplicity of Building Morale

Building morale does not need to be complicated. Here are two simple behavior changes that can create a big impact.

There are high spots in all of our lives and most of them have come about through encouragement from someone else. I don't care how great, how famous or successful a man or woman may be, each hungers for applause.

- George Matthew Adams

Every Thursday morning for six months from April through October, I make the ultimate sacrifice for the ultimate reward.  I sacrifice sleep, which is huge for me since I HATE mornings, by hitting the floor at 05:50 so that I can make my 07:26 tee time.  Last year I decided to go out of my comfort zone and joined a ladies morning golf league.  Since it was my first time and I had been golfing consistently for only two years at the time, I settled on a 9-hole league near my home.

In those two years I had been playing, I became addicted.  I salivated over golf.  I dreamt about it, itching for the weekend to arrive so that I could be out on the course with Mike.  I outfitted myself with a new set of Callaways, and found the best pink ball I could buy in bulk, and the good people of Golf Galaxy came to know me on a first-name basis.  So joining a league was the logical next step, plus I wanted to know other women who loved the sport. 

There was risk involved in what I was about to do.  The league I was joining was very established and had not had any spots open in many years. Would they accept me into the fold, or would they be standoffish and cold toward me?  My skill level at the time was rough and inconsistent and I’d never had a handicap before; would they resent playing with me, feeling I hold them back?  Would they be quick to point out my weaknesses (which are many) and would I leave each time feeling deflated and like I didn’t belong?  Maybe I needed to slow down and check myself.  Why would any of these polished ladies want a “NEWBIE” like me to join in?

The night before my first time out I gathered all my gear and put it out or packed it in my trunk.  I ate well to fall asleep easier.  I went to bed two hours earlier than normal.  I had a fitful sleep full of anxiety dreams about my game since I also have performance anxiety issues; I fear being judged for my imperfections and in golf there are many imperfections.  I was scared out of my mind for what lay ahead

It turns out what I feared and what was reality never intertwined.  Instead, what I discovered was a group of ladies who cheered me on and celebrated my accomplishments.  I have discovered over the years that seasoned golfers do not offer criticism, ask permission before they offer coaching (“can I give you a tip?”), and let you know with enthusiasm when a shot is beautiful.  Being around positive people improves my game.  On the rare occasions I have been around negative golfers, everyone’s game suffers.  More mistakes are made.  It’s harder to recover mentally from a bad shot and mistakes become repetitive.  When surrounded by positive people it brings out everyone’s best, there is more laughter and an ease about the group, and it is more fun.

A Weird Side to the Police Culture

Recently we’ve attended several events with other officers and one theme seems to remain true: If you were not in attendance, and someone had an issue with you – no matter how slight, apparently, or regardless of whether you were aware of it or not - you were going to be talked about…and not in a good way!  I wish I could say this was a dynamic exclusive to these events and it did not exist anywhere else, but as we have traveled the country, this dynamic seems to be more universal than atypical.  When we have done our training Police Morale for Supervisors: It Is Your Problem! a concern often brought up by the supervisors is that the culture within their department is often filled with rumors, jealousy, and negativity.  They talk of how this environment weighs everyone down, drains energy, goes beyond healthy cynicism, and prevents solution-focused forward movement.  Instead of being a place where others want to be, it becomes an agency full of burned out, distrustful people with “retirement countdown apps” on their Smartphones and R.O.A.D. officers.

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