Developing a sense of pride

As a responder, you need to build a strong sense of pride in all your abilities

Do you remember the first time you put on your uniform with the freshly sewn patch, strapped on your radio, pager and got ready for the first call? If you were like most of us, this was the culmination of extensive training and along the way we developed a sense of pride.

Pride in our ability to handle all situations, pride in our knowledge and pride in the uniform. As I have traveled all over the country consulting, lecturing and meeting crews from all facets of public safety, I have noticed an alarming trend. Some of our brothers and sisters on the street still have that pride, but sadly many have lost it or even worse never had it in the first place.

As an athletic therapist/trainer, rehabilitation expert, author, speaker, medic and athlete what I see is that as society becomes less and less fit and looses the pride in ones physical self, that feeling and attitude is carrying over into our career.

No matter where I go in the country there seems to be only two groups: the fit and not fit. While everyone is extremely dedicated to their profession there seems to be a disconnect that has developed between confidence in ones physical ability and ones 'street skills'. Everyone has street skills that they have developed but I have seen fewer and fewer responders that have true pride in themselves.

Take a look at the military and how they build pride in recruits, look at high level sports, tactical teams and accomplished individuals and they all have built a strong sense of pride in their abilities, both physical and cognitive.

Now look around or look within at those dedicated folks you share a uniform with that are un-fit, overweight, physically unable or just lazy. I have seen them everywhere, many are in sheer denial that they are the ones, they make jokes about their weight or play it off out of sheer embarrassment.

These dedicate responders have sadly become a paid liability to your department and they are often what the public sees in their time of need. Where did they go wrong? Did we as peers and co-workers fail them by not keeping everyone accountable? Where did the pride go?

As we step into 2011 with resolutions flying around about how this year is going to be different and how we are going to change, yet sadly knowing that more than 95 percent of resolutions fail, we need to find our pride.

As students of society's underbelly we all see firsthand what happens to those who cannot change or do not have the ability to do so, why are we any different? So I challenge each and every person who reads this article to make a choice and to follow through on it.

1) Go the extra step with yourself every day; make fitness a priority.

2) Invest in your health; eat well and be well.

3) Accept that there are just some things that you cannot change; let them go and dump that negative energy.

4) Be yourself; do not try to fit into a mold just be happy with who you are.

5) Wear your uniform with pride; very few can handle what we do every day, take pride in your strength.

The simplest way to build pride is to accomplish things that matter to you and only to you. Achieving a goal, losing 10 pounds, finishing a race, walking 30 minutes a day for 30 days, stretching every day, the list is endless. Print out this article and on the bottom of the page write down the 10 goals that you would like to achieve this year, now go back and rank them, not by which is most important but by which ones will help you to build pride.

Look at the tactical or special team members in your organization, what trait do you see in them? Confidence, cocky, ego, strength, pride? Ask yourself where it comes from or how it got there, and how can you achieve some of that pride? Look back at your list and examine your goals again, rank them again and at this point you should have the answer you are looking for.

The mind and body have a special and unique connection; we cannot have a strong mind without a strong body and vice versa. Take pride in your diet, your fitness, your appearance and your fortitude. Take pride in your career and your uniform, especially what you have to do every day to wear it.

Those of us in public safety are a special and unique group. As professionals we are only as strong as the weakest link, it's up to us to build pride from within ourselves and our departments. Help those who are struggling and we help ourselves. If we are fit and strong then no physical test can be a threat or worry, if everyone on the team pulls their weight equally than our job only gets easier. Be fit, stay safe and have pride in yourself and your uniform.

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