Count Your Blessings
“For of those to whom much is given, much is required.”
-John F. Kennedy1
Law enforcement executives constantly seek ways of improving their motivational skills and helping those they lead to appreciate the profession of policing and serving the public. At first glance, this task does not appear difficult. After all, a career in law enforcement offers many positives. Officers gain a sense of purpose and an opportunity to protect and serve the general public, often as the last line of defense against criminal and terrorist elements. In addition, they have the ability to earn an honest living, as well as a retirement pension.
However, as with many things in life, motivating and inspiring the rank and file of policing is not as easy as it would seem. Without a doubt, the everyday pressures of being on the job and dealing with people who commit their lives to dishonest endeavors and criminal intent can have a negative effect on the outlook and motivation of even the most optimistic among us.
Yet, every once in a while, someone or something we encounter offers a powerful form of motivation and inspiration. These instances do not occur only on duty—they can happen in everyday life.
I recently experienced one of these uplifting, motivating moments at an unexpected time and place. On a cold and windy December day, I was walking out to Jones Beach on Long Island, New York, with a close friend. As we approached the boardwalk, we encountered two women. The first passed by without issuing a response to our greeting. But, the second approached me and relayed a concise story about a small, tearful boy and his uncle, who were following close behind her. She informed me that the 4-year-old boy was the victim of a car bombing in Iraq about a year earlier and that he lost both of his parents in the incident. The explosion threw him from the vehicle and caused a power line to land directly across his face. The boy suffered severe damage to his face and now requires a trachea tube to breathe. The woman also explained that the young boy was crying because his first-ever visit to the beach was ending too soon for his liking.
As the boy approached, the old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” could not have been more on point. No words could describe the damage done to this young boy’s face by a cowardly act of terrorism. Although, obviously, many difficult challenges lay ahead for this youngster, the bitter cold, windy day at the beach clearly had brought him much joy. This experience caused self-reflection and consideration on my part regarding the important things in life. This young boy, through no fault of his own, was dealt a difficult hand by life. Yet, despite visiting a deserted beach in poor weather conditions and without any other kids or sand toys to play with, he somehow appreciated the simple joys the beach had to offer.
This brief encounter with a young boy who remains nameless to me provoked many thoughts about life and appreciating it. We all lose our way sometimes and see only our difficulties. When this happens, we can be world-class complainers. Some of us even deflate the morale of others and lose track of our many blessings. We become oblivious to the fact that we belong to an exclusive fraternity of those who have served in the greatest profession ever known to mankind. From this day forward, if I start to lose my appreciation or motivation for life or my career field, I simply will think of this remarkable boy.
Special Agent Kevin J. Crawford, an instructor in Community Leadership Development at the FBI Academy, prepared this Leadership Spotlight.