Category Archives: The Cultural Revolution

A Police Officer On Lessons From Ferguson

Police Foundation President Jim Bueermann poses for a photograph in his office in Washington, Thursday, March 21, 2013. (Alex Brandon/AP)

A veteran police officer says both the shooting of Michael Brown and the aftermath in Ferguson point to the need for conversation about police and community in the U.S.

Jim Bueermann is president of the Police Foundation, a nonpartisan and nonprofit group that supports innovation and improvement in policing. Bueerman worked for the police department in Redlands, California, for 33 years, serving in every position, including as chief of police.

Bueermann tells Here & Now’s Sacha Pfeiffer that policing is a joint activity in which the community is a necessary partner, and police departments need to reflect the communities they serve.

He warns against prejudging in the Michael Brown case, saying that even unarmed civilians can be dangerous and that the public should wait for a full investigation of what happened.

But, Bueermann says once the shooting happened, officials should have been much more transparent about the case.

Guest

A Police Officer On Lessons From Ferguson

2 Comments

Filed under The Blue Blitz, The Cultural Revolution

Use of Force is the Core of the Police Role

rearnakedchoke

     Use of Force is the Core of the Police Role

David C. Couper

AUGUST 1, 2014 BY IMPROVINGPOLICE

Sociologist Egon Bittner (1921-2011) once described the core of the police role as “the non-negotiated use of force.”

He was “spot on” with this observation.

Now if the use of force is our core, which I happen to also believe it is, then why don’t we pay more attention to why, when and how we are trained to use it? After all, when the public judges us as not using force properly trouble is close behind.

A good example is the arrest and “choke hold” by the NYPD officers after he was seen illegally selling cigarettes on the street. That end result was that the man died and, not surprisingly, strong public outcry. (For more, CLICK HERE).

I suggest that police need to take a deeper look at how force is used, the research surrounding various uses of force, and including the control of crowds. How police use force matters in a society committed to freedom and the preservation of life.

Police in a democracy should be well-trained and controlled in their use of force and be able to justify the use of force in every circumstance.

Last January, Ron Martinelli, a former police officer with more than 22 years of street experience wrote an important article about a necessary police restraining technique – lateral vascular control.

Martinelli is a multi-certified use-of-force instructor and forensic criminologist with a PhD. He is nationally recognized for his research on the subject of psychophysiology and stress-induced responses.

In the past, this technique has been confused with the “arm-bar-across-the-windpipe technique” that cuts off a person’s ability to breathe and induces a panic response — literally a choke hold. However, Martinelli talks about the lateral vascular restraint or “carotid control.” ‘A technique, incidentally, that I used over a hundred times as a street cop and as a Judo competitor, teacher, and police self-defense instructor.

Here are some excerpts from Martinelli’s article and why police leaders should consider it and then properly train their officers in its use:

Reconsidering Carotid Control

“Law enforcement is experiencing a dramatic increase in citizen contacts and critical incidents involving violently resistive and or otherwise dangerous subjects who are under the influence of street stimulants and designer drugs such as ‘bath salts.’ Officers are also encountering more emotionally disturbed persons (EDPs) who are presenting with decompensating, agitated, and chaotic behavior who are experiencing serious medical emergencies such as an ‘agitated chaotic event’ and/or agitated-excited delirium…

“Frequently, such encounters result in multiple applications of an electronic control weapon (ECW), OC spray, impact weapons, and officer swarms to physically control and restrain resisting subjects who classically demonstrate superhuman strength…

“Millennial generation officers and even veteran officers who are often hesitant to go hands-on with an agitated or actively resistant subject often go right to the application of an ECW. However, for a variety of reasons, ECWs are historically only 60% effective in the field…

“Officers who then resort to multiple applications of a ‘drive-stun’ make a serious tactical error against pain-resistant EDPs, agitated-chaotics, or drug-influenced subjects, who feel no pain from the device. Those officers find themselves in close proximity to an actively resistant subject, and they cannot use their impact weapons for obvious reasons. So what can these officers do next when seconds matter?

“They should consider the carotid restraint control hold.

“The carotid restraint control hold gives officers a viable method for controlling subjects when other force options may not be justified, effective, or available.

Quick and Effective

“The carotid restraint is a valuable force option that does not rely upon pain compliance, blunt force trauma, or multiple applications of electronic energy (referred to as ‘load’) from electronic weapons. When applied by a competent end-user, the hold is quick and highly effective and is absent of any evidence of traumatic injury…

“Carotid restraint is very effective in controlling EDPs and subjects experiencing an agitated-chaotic event or presenting with excited delirium because the hold generates a painless unconscious state in 7 to 10 seconds. The ability to quickly and efficiently render an agitated-chaotic subject unconscious significantly minimizes the risk of in-custody death that often results from prolonged struggles…

Respiratory vs. Vascular Holds

“There are two types of neck restraint holds: respiratory and vascular.

“A respiratory neck restraint uses direct mechanical compression or pressure over the anterior (front) structures of the neck. This pressure causes asphyxiation by compressing the trachea and restricting the person’s ability to breathe. This type of hold should never be used by law enforcement unless lethal force is justified (my emphasis).

“In contrast, a vascular neck restraint (VNR) employs bilateral compression of the carotid arteries and jugular veins at the sides of the neck, which results in diminished cerebral cortex circulation. This abrupt reduction of blood significantly affects the ability of the cerebral cortex to remain in an ‘awake state’ and leads to unconsciousness.

“It is very important for end-user officers, law enforcement administrators, and the media to understand that when applying a vascular neck restraint, NO significant frontal pressure or compression is applied to the delicate structures of the front of the neck (my emphasis). If properly applied, the restrained subject should be free of unreasonable pressure to the front and rear of the neck, which might cause secondary injuries or death. Equally important is that the subject also retains the ability to breathe.

“The carotid restraint control hold is a vascular neck restraint. Sloppy or uninformed terminology and casual references by any individual to vascular neck restraints as a choke hold, a strangle hold, a neck hold, or ‘choking the subject out,’ serves only to confuse the goal of the restraint, the physiology behind it, and the desired outcome(my emphasis). The vascular neck restraint should always be referred to as a ‘vascular neck restraint’ or specifically as a ‘carotid restraint control hold.’ Don’t call it anything else…

“Initial certification training of end-user officers, mandated periodic update training, and updated policies and procedures are paramount for agencies authorizing this very practical, much needed and unique use-of-force option.”

+++++++++++++++

You can read the entire article HERE in which it also goes further into current medical research about LVC.

Martinelli can be contacted HERE.

++++++++++++++

Every police agency needs to review their policies with regard to the use of force, how they are training their officers in using its various and varying degrees, and share this information with their community.

That’s what professional police do.

The Core of the Police Role

 

 

3 Comments

Filed under The Blue Blitz, The Cultural Revolution

Breaking the Blue Line | Launch a revolution

Thibodaux PD takes new approach to law enforcement, sees positive results

Report by NBC33: Samantha Morgan

THIBODAUX, LA (NBC33)  — Law enforcement is all too often placed in the role of being reactionary. However, the Thibodaux Police Department has implemented a new proactive method that’s gaining positive results for the department as well as the community.

“We’re working smarter, not harder,” David Melancon, Thibodaux Police Department, explained. “We take a data-led approach, and through this approach we’re seeing great results.”

Two years ago, Chief Scott Silverii took over the Thibodaux Police Department. Utilizing the DDACTS (Data Driven Approach to Crime and Traffic Safety) is one of the many policy changes he has made.

“The traditional way of law enforcement is very reactive. You ride around and wait for a call. We operate off of an intelligence paradigm,” Chief Silverii explained. “We place officers in the right place at the right time. We’ve become very proactive in the way we approach law enforcement.”

Officers are given real-time data and statistics to determine where their efforts are most needed. Although the city has a low level of violent criminal offences, crimes of opportunity and those considered to cause social harm are the primary focus.

“Those are crimes that prevent a person from having comfort in our person or property,” Melancon explained. “We deal with a lot of property crimes, domestic cases, fighting, thefts, and so on.”

Among those crimes considered to cause social harm are DWI offenses.

Mardi Gras Season

Mardi Gras Season

“We consider that to be one of the most serious in-progress crimes,” Melancon said. “When you have people who are behind the wheel driving drunk, they have the potential of killing an entire family – all because that person drove under the influence. If you really want to reduce social harm and want people to feel safe, DWI enforcement is the place to start.

The DDACTS system has dramatically improved the statistics in the area for alcohol related traffic offenses.

This year the Thibodaux Police Department has made over 200 DWI arrests, and there has not been a single alcohol-related crash in the city.

In 2010, the year before the new system was implemented, the department only made 22 arrests for the entire year. That same year there were 16 alcohol-related crashes with injury.

“This isn’t an accident,” Chief Silverii said. “This isn’t a coincidence. This is very orchestrated.”

Along with a reduction of traffic crashes, the Thibodaux Police Department has seen a reduction in other offences such as property crimes and crimes against persons.

“It’s not about harassing the public, it’s about being proactive,” Chief Silverii explained. “Every time those blue lights come on, it has an awesome deterrent effect. Whether you’re stopping a drunk driver, or making a traffic stop, seeing those lights might deter a person from committing a criminal act in the area.”

Being active in the community extends beyond the physical, however. Chief Silverii is also pushing the use of social media to increase transparency with the public.

“I think the public is tired of just listening,” he said. “By reciprocating communications, it ingrains us into the community we serve.”

KD map 2

Example of Kernal Density Map

He is also working to develop a mobile app that members of the community can use to report crime.

“Traditionally, only 41 percent of crimes are reported,” Chief Silverii noted. “The old way of just calling 911 has gone to the wayside. I’m pushing to offer an app. The younger generation is more accustom to texting, and we want to remove any barrier that would prevent them from reporting crime.”

Chief Silverii has more plans that will help move Thibodaux toward its goal of being the safest community in the nation. For now, the changes that have already been made are making a great impact.

“We’ve seen a reduction in social crimes. Officer productivity has increased. “It’s a cultural revolution. It’s breaking the thin blue line and going about a new way of business.”

Join us: Breaking the Blue Line | Launch a revolution

5 Comments

Filed under The Cultural Revolution

The love / hate relationship between cops and their dispatchers

Let’s be honest, there is no better example of a “love-hate relationship” than the daily interaction between street cops and their dispatchers. When things are going well, we love each other; when they’re not, tempers flare, attitudes take a nosedive and we temporarily hate each other.

Having spent time on both sides of the dispatch center, I’d like to make just a few suggestions for making life easier—and safer—for each other.

Police Officers

 Mind Your Manners

When you key up that microphone, be mindful of your tone of voice; if you wouldn’t talk to your mother, your spouse, or your neighbor in that rude, sarcastic, exasperated tone, then why would you talk that way to your dispatcher?

This is where the “Golden Rule” becomes especially important. That call-taker is going to be your lifeline at some point, so talk to her in the same manner that you’d like her to talk back to you when you’re under stress.

Most “911” centers are chaotic at best, and there are going to be times when you’ll have to ask for information to be repeated, or you have to repeat your own transmission; after all, no system nor human is perfect. Take a deep breath and think before you speak.

 Try To Provide Some Closure

Dispatchers spend their shift responding to crisis after crisis, but they rarely get to hear or see the outcome of their actions. This is especially important in critical incidents.

A friend of mine, a veteran 911 operator, once took a call from a handicapped woman whose apartment was on fire. The dispatcher heroically talked to the victim, keeping her calm and eventually helping her make peace with what would turn out to be her last moments on Earth. Neither the police nor fire department were able to save this woman, and the incident was traumatic for all involved, especially when we discovered that the fire victim was a relative of a police employee.

A crisis intervention team was activated, and all involved employees except for the dispatcher were invited to participate. No one even told the dispatcher that the woman had died; she had to read about it the next day in the paper. This was a simple oversight on the agency’s part, but it was devastating to that dispatcher.

Make sure that after the conclusion of each “hot” call (and even some of the funny ones) someone calls dispatch and lets them know the outcome. This gives the operators some much-needed closure, and helps make everyone feel a part of the same team.

Recognize the Stressful Nature of a Dispatcher’s Job

As cops, we think our job is stressful, which it is, but we often fail to recognize the consistently high level of stress inside that com-center. Remember, no one calls “911” when things are going well, so every single communication coming in and going out of dispatch is some sort of crisis.

A good dispatcher is highly aware that they are responsible for the clear, safe communication between you and the unknown, but 8, 10 or 12 hours of that atmosphere can get to even the most Zen-like personality. A kind word, a “thank you,” and the recognition that things can get pretty crazy, both on and off the street, can go a long way toward easing the stress in dispatch and improving dispatcher/cop relations. .

 

Dispatchers

Be Vigilant & Informed About Officer Safety & Survival

Since dispatchers are often the key to an officer’s safe and successful outcome on calls, traffic stops, and other incidents, police dispatchers should study officer safety and survival tactics with all the enthusiasm of your average rookie cop.

Attend outside training courses (such as the Street Survival seminar), read law enforcement publications (both electronic and print), and stay abreast of officer survival news and information.

Call-takers should be allowed to ride along with FTO’s and supervisors who are willing and able to provide the dispatcher with an appropriate overview of officer safety from a cop’s eye view.

Get in the habit of seeking additional information for the officers before they ask for it, such as the previous incidents at the location you’re sending them to, the criminal history of the person they currently have stopped, and any other special knowledge you may have that will help the officers stay safe.

Know Your Dispatch Area

In the age of computer-aided dispatch, in-car computers, GPS and other technology, operators tend to rely too heavily on the screen in front of them, not in their knowledge of the officers’ coverage area. Get out in the car, go on ride-alongs, read the local crime bulletins, and spend time getting to know the streets, businesses, and hot spots of your jurisdiction.

Don’t rely solely on the computer screen to recommend who should go where. Get in the habit of picturing the area where you’re sending the officers, and then do what you can to make their response safer and more productive.

Recognize that you’re here to support the cops

As a sergeant, one of the biggest complaints I hear from officers is “the dispatchers act like we’re there to support them, not the other way around.”  This is an age-old workplace dilemma:  “Whose job is more important.”  Dispatchers, we’re going to ask you to do things, call people, and answer questions that may seem absolutely frivolous or absurd to you, but they are important to us.

I once had a dispatcher who seemed aggravated every time I asked her to call inside and have a bank employee step outside during our usual rash of morning false alarms. Rather than complain to her supervisor or start a verbal “war” over the radio, I contacted her and asked if she knew why we had the employees come out to us rather than the officers going into the bank.

As I suspected, it turned out that she had never been informed about the officer safety procedures in false alarm response. Once she understood, she became absolute vigilant in her response to these and other potentially dangerous calls, and she turned out to be a great dispatcher.

Dispatchers need to recognize that their role is to support the officer on the street, to inform them, keep track of them and help them stay safe. And, remember, the “Golden Rule” I talked about works both ways.

Supervisors and managers

Supervisors and managers on both sides need to be willing to step in and provide opportunities for learning, team building — and yes, even some constructive “venting.” Like many workplace disagreements, the “us versus them” mentality often stems from simple misunderstandings. A veteran dispatcher can be one of a rookie officer’s best trainers if she is allowed to provide real-time feedback, and a veteran street cop can be invaluable to a new dispatcher who is trying to learn proper officer safety.

Constantly remind yourself and each other — that we truly are all on the same team —and then get in the habit of treating all of your teammates with the same courtesy and respect that you expect them to bestow upon you.

The love/hate relationship between cops and their dispatchers

 

 

About the author

Sergeant Betsy Smith has more than 30 years of law enforcement experience, retiring as a patrol supervisor in a large Chicago suburb. A graduate of the Northwestern University Center for Public Safety’s School of Staff and Command and a Street Survival seminar instructor for more than 9 years, Betsy is now a speaker, author and a primary PoliceOne Academy consultant. Visit Betsy’s website at www.femaleforces.com.

Contact Betsy Smith and Follow Betsy on Twitter

1 Comment

Filed under The Blue Blitz, The Cultural Revolution

6 Ways to Create A Culture Of Innovation

REWARD EMPLOYEES WITH TIME TO THINK, WHILE PROVIDING THEM WITH THE STRUCTURE THEY NEED.
WRITTEN BY Soren Kaplan

Every organization is designed to get the results it gets. Poor performance comes from a poorly designed organization. Superior results emerge when strategies, business models, structure, processes, technologies, tools, and reward systems fire on all cylinders in symphonic unison.

Savvy leaders shape the culture of their company to drive innovation. They know that it’s culture–the values, norms, unconscious messages, and subtle behaviors of leaders and employees–that often limits performance.

These invisible forces are responsible for the fact that 70% of all organizational change efforts fail. The trick? Design the interplay between the company’s explicit strategies with the ways people actually relate to one another and to the organization.

Here’s how to influence the soft stuff.

NOTE: I’ve condensed the content to highlights, but you can read the entire article here.

 

1. BE INTENTIONAL WITH YOUR INNOVATION INTENT

Most corporate visions and missions sound alarmingly alike: Become the #1 provider of blah, blah, blah. These generic, broad-based goals might rev up sales teams, but they do little to spark ingenuity. Perhaps the worst thing a company can do is give “innovation marching orders” without any guide posts. That’s when the focus gets lost and teams spin their wheels.

 

2. CREATE A STRUCTURE FOR UNSTRUCTURED TIME

Innovation needs time to develop. No one ever feels like they have time to spare. People get so consumed with putting out fires and chasing short-term targets that most can’t even think about the future.

3. STEP IN, THEN STEP BACK

Providing “free” time for employees to experiment with new technologies, products, or processes can catalyze the next big thing. But too many companies–and the consultants they hire–attempt to over-engineer the innovation process. A better option: Give just enough structure and support to help people navigate uncertainty and tap into the creative process without stifling it.

 

4. MEASURE WHAT’S MEANINGFUL

Management guru Peter Drucker once said, “What’s measured improves.” Said another way, You get what you measure. For many companies, coming up with ideas often isn’t the problem. The challenge is turning them into something real that delivers an impact. So what metrics should you use?

5. GIVE “WORTHLESS” REWARDS

Recognizing success is critical, but most companies stop there. An annual innovation award is just not enough to catalyze a culture of innovation. Sure, formal rewards are good for the short term–but they don’t keep people truly engaged. The most powerful and robust type of recognition–the kind that shapes organizational values–often occurs more informally.

6. GET SYMBOLIC

Symbols represent the underlying values of an organization, and they come in many forms–values statements, awards, success stories, posters in the hallways, catch phrases, acronyms, and, yes, those wooden nickels. Those who intentionally curate the innovation symbols of their companies essentially curate their innovation cultures.


NO RUBBER STAMPS
Every company’s culture is inherently different. So when you’re cultivating innovation, you’re cultivating a unique system. Which means you have to be thoughtful about your approach. Whatever you do, it should align with the values of the company and with the company’s goals. And in each case, you have to make it easy and rewarding for the people whose roles and dynamics influence the very innovation culture you’re trying to cultivate.

 

6 Ways to Create A Culture Of Innovation

[Image: Scribbles via Shutterstock]

Leave a comment

Filed under The Cultural Revolution

Teammates

Teammates

 

Looking forward to this summer’s Big Fun Day for Thibodaux Jr Police and families.

Leave a comment

Filed under The Blue Blitz, The Cultural Revolution

10 Life Lessons from a Navy SEAL

Naval Admiral William H. McRaven’s commencement speech at UT. It’s amazing and lessons I hope to always remember.

PLEASE ENJOY

The University’s slogan is,

“What starts here changes the world.”

I have to admit—I kinda like it.

“What starts here changes the world.”

Tonight there are almost 8,000 students graduating from UT.

That great paragon of analytical rigor, Ask.Com says that the average American will meet 10,000 people in their lifetime.

That’s a lot of folks.

But, if every one of you changed the lives of just ten people—and each one of those folks changed the lives of another ten people—just ten—then in five generations—125 years—the class of 2014 will have changed the lives of 800 million people.

800 million people—think of it—over twice the population of the United States. Go one more generation and you can change the entire population of the world—8 billion people.

If you think it’s hard to change the lives of ten people—change their lives forever—you’re wrong.

I saw it happen every day in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A young Army officer makes a decision to go left instead of right down a road in Baghdad and the ten soldiers in his squad are saved from close-in ambush.

In Kandahar province, Afghanistan, a non-commissioned officer from the Female Engagement Team senses something isn’t right and directs the infantry platoon away from a 500 pound IED, saving the lives of a dozen soldiers.

But, if you think about it, not only were these soldiers saved by the decisions of one person, but their children yet unborn—were also saved. And their children’s children—were saved.

Generations were saved by one decision—by one person.

But changing the world can happen anywhere and anyone can do it.

So, what starts here can indeed change the world, but the question is… what will the world look like after you change it?

Well, I am confident that it will look much, much better, but if you will humor this old sailor for just a moment, I have a few suggestions that may help you on your way to a better a world.

And while these lessons were learned during my time in the military, I can assure you that it matters not whether you ever served a day in uniform.

It matters not your gender, your ethnic or religious background, your orientation, or your social status.

Our struggles in this world are similar and the lessons to overcome those struggles and to move forward—changing ourselves and the world around us—will apply equally to all.

I have been a Navy SEAL for 36 years. But it all began when I left UT for Basic SEAL training in Coronado, California.

Basic SEAL training is six months of long torturous runs in the soft sand, midnight swims in the cold water off San Diego, obstacles courses, unending calisthenics, days without sleep and always being cold, wet and miserable.

It is six months of being constantly harassed by professionally trained warriors who seek to find the weak of mind and body and eliminate them from ever becoming a Navy SEAL.

But, the training also seeks to find those students who can lead in an environment of constant stress, chaos, failure and hardships.

To me basic SEAL training was a life time of challenges crammed into six months.

So, here are the ten lessons I learned from basic SEAL training that hopefully will be of value to you as you move forward in life.

Every morning in basic SEAL training, my instructors, who at the time were all Vietnam veterans, would show up in my barracks room and the first thing they would inspect was your bed.

If you did it right, the corners would be square, the covers pulled tight, the pillow centered just under the headboard and the extra blanket folded neatly at the foot of the rack—rack—that’s Navy talk for bed.

It was a simple task—mundane at best. But every morning we were required to make our bed to perfection. It seemed a little ridiculous at the time, particularly in light of the fact that were aspiring to be real warriors, tough battle hardened SEALs—but the wisdom of this simple act has been proven to me many times over.

If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another.

By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.

If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.

And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made—that you made—and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.

#1. If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.

During SEAL training the students are broken down into boat crews. Each crew is seven students—three on each side of a small rubber boat and one coxswain to help guide the dingy.

Every day your boat crew forms up on the beach and is instructed to get through the surf zone and paddle several miles down the coast.

In the winter, the surf off San Diego can get to be 8 to 10 feet high and it is exceedingly difficult to paddle through the plunging surf unless everyone digs in.

Every paddle must be synchronized to the stroke count of the coxswain. Everyone must exert equal effort or the boat will turn against the wave and be unceremoniously tossed back on the beach.

For the boat to make it to its destination, everyone must paddle.

You can’t change the world alone—you will need some help— and to truly get from your starting point to your destination takes friends, colleagues, the good will of strangers and a strong coxswain to guide them.

#2. If you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle.

Over a few weeks of difficult training my SEAL class which started with 150 men was down to just 35. There were now six boat crews of seven men each.

I was in the boat with the tall guys, but the best boat crew we had was made up of the the little guys—the munchkin crew we called them—no one was over about 5-foot five.

The munchkin boat crew had one American Indian, one African American, one Polish American, one Greek American, one Italian American, and two tough kids from the mid-west.

They out paddled, out-ran, and out swam all the other boat crews.

The big men in the other boat crews would always make good natured fun of the tiny little flippers the munchkins put on their tiny little feet prior to every swim.

But somehow these little guys, from every corner of the Nation and the world, always had the last laugh— swimming faster than everyone and reaching the shore long before the rest of us.

SEAL training was a great equalizer. Nothing mattered but your will to succeed. Not your color, not your ethnic background, not your education and not your social status.

#3. If you want to change the world, measure a person by the size of their heart, not the size of their flippers.

Several times a week, the instructors would line up the class and do a uniform inspection. It was exceptionally thorough.

Your hat had to be perfectly starched, your uniform immaculately pressed and your belt buckle shiny and void of any smudges.

But it seemed that no matter how much effort you put into starching your hat, or pressing your uniform or polishing your belt buckle—- it just wasn’t good enough.

The instructors would find “something” wrong.

For failing the uniform inspection, the student had to run, fully clothed into the surfzone and then, wet from head to toe, roll around on the beach until every part of your body was covered with sand.

The effect was known as a “sugar cookie.” You stayed in that uniform the rest of the day—cold, wet and sandy.

There were many a student who just couldn’t accept the fact that all their effort was in vain. That no matter how hard they tried to get the uniform right—it was unappreciated.

Those students didn’t make it through training.

Those students didn’t understand the purpose of the drill. You were never going to succeed. You were never going to have a perfect uniform.

Sometimes no matter how well you prepare or how well you perform you still end up as a sugar cookie.

It’s just the way life is sometimes.

#4. If you want to change the world get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward.

Every day during training you were challenged with multiple physical events—long runs, long swims, obstacle courses, hours of calisthenics—something designed to test your mettle.

Every event had standards—times you had to meet. If you failed to meet those standards your name was posted on a list and at the end of the day those on the list were invited to—a “circus.”

A circus was two hours of additional calisthenics—designed to wear you down, to break your spirit, to force you to quit.

No one wanted a circus.

A circus meant that for that day you didn’t measure up. A circus meant more fatigue—and more fatigue meant that the following day would be more difficult—and more circuses were likely.

But at some time during SEAL training, everyone—everyone—made the circus list.

But an interesting thing happened to those who were constantly on the list. Over time those students-—who did two hours of extra calisthenics—got stronger and stronger.

The pain of the circuses built inner strength-built physical resiliency.

Life is filled with circuses.

You will fail. You will likely fail often. It will be painful. It will be discouraging. At times it will test you to your very core.

#5. But if you want to change the world, don’t be afraid of the circuses.

At least twice a week, the trainees were required to run the obstacle course. The obstacle course contained 25 obstacles including a 10-foot high wall, a 30-foot cargo net, and a barbed wire crawl to name a few.

But the most challenging obstacle was the slide for life. It had a three level 30 foot tower at one end and a one level tower at the other. In between was a 200-foot long rope.

You had to climb the three tiered tower and once at the top, you grabbed the rope, swung underneath the rope and pulled yourself hand over hand until you got to the other end.

The record for the obstacle course had stood for years when my class began training in 1977.

The record seemed unbeatable, until one day, a student decided to go down the slide for life—head first.

Instead of swinging his body underneath the rope and inching his way down, he bravely mounted the TOP of the rope and thrust himself forward.

It was a dangerous move—seemingly foolish, and fraught with risk. Failure could mean injury and being dropped from the training.

Without hesitation—the student slid down the rope—perilously fast, instead of several minutes, it only took him half that time and by the end of the course he had broken the record.

#6. If you want to change the world sometimes you have to slide down the obstacle head first.

During the land warfare phase of training, the students are flown out to San Clemente Island which lies off the coast of San Diego.

The waters off San Clemente are a breeding ground for the great white sharks. To pass SEAL training there are a series of long swims that must be completed. One—is the night swim.

Before the swim the instructors joyfully brief the trainees on all the species of sharks that inhabit the waters off San Clemente.

They assure you, however, that no student has ever been eaten by a shark—at least not recently.

But, you are also taught that if a shark begins to circle your position—stand your ground. Do not swim away. Do not act afraid.

And if the shark, hungry for a midnight snack, darts towards you—then summons up all your strength and punch him in the snout and he will turn and swim away.

There are a lot of sharks in the world. If you hope to complete the swim you will have to deal with them.

#7. So, if you want to change the world, don’t back down from the sharks.

As Navy SEALs one of our jobs is to conduct underwater attacks against enemy shipping. We practiced this technique extensively during basic training.

The ship attack mission is where a pair of SEAL divers is dropped off outside an enemy harbor and then swims well over two miles—underwater—using nothing but a depth gauge and a compass to get to their target.

During the entire swim, even well below the surface there is some light that comes through. It is comforting to know that there is open water above you.

But as you approach the ship, which is tied to a pier, the light begins to fade. The steel structure of the ship blocks the moonlight—it blocks the surrounding street lamps—it blocks all ambient light.

To be successful in your mission, you have to swim under the ship and find the keel—the center line and the deepest part of the ship.

This is your objective. But the keel is also the darkest part of the ship—where you cannot see your hand in front of your face, where the noise from the ship’s machinery is deafening and where it is easy to get disoriented and fail.

Every SEAL knows that under the keel, at the darkest moment of the mission—is the time when you must be calm, composed—when all your tactical skills, your physical power and all your inner strength must be brought to bear.

#8. If you want to change the world, you must be your very best in the darkest moment.

The ninth week of training is referred to as “Hell Week.” It is six days of no sleep, constant physical and mental harassment and—one special day at the Mud Flats—the Mud Flats are an area between San Diego and Tijuana where the water runs off and creates the Tijuana slue’s—a swampy patch of terrain where the mud will engulf you.

It is on Wednesday of Hell Week that you paddle down to the mud flats and spend the next 15 hours trying to survive the freezing cold mud, the howling wind and the incessant pressure to quit from the instructors.

As the sun began to set that Wednesday evening, my training class, having committed some “egregious infraction of the rules” was ordered into the mud.

The mud consumed each man till there was nothing visible but our heads. The instructors told us we could leave the mud if only five men would quit—just five men and we could get out of the oppressive cold.

Looking around the mud flat it was apparent that some students were about to give up. It was still over eight hours till the sun came up—eight more hours of bone chilling cold.

The chattering teeth and shivering moans of the trainees were so loud it was hard to hear anything and then, one voice began to echo through the night—one voice raised in song.

The song was terribly out of tune, but sung with great enthusiasm.

One voice became two and two became three and before long everyone in the class was singing.

We knew that if one man could rise above the misery then others could as well.

The instructors threatened us with more time in the mud if we kept up the singing—but the singing persisted.

And somehow—the mud seemed a little warmer, the wind a little tamer and the dawn not so far away.

If I have learned anything in my time traveling the world, it is the power of hope. The power of one person—Washington, Lincoln, King, Mandela and even a young girl from Pakistan—Malala—one person can change the world by giving people hope.

#9. So, if you want to change the world, start singing when you’re up to your neck in mud.

Finally, in SEAL training there is a bell. A brass bell that hangs in the center of the compound for all the students to see.

All you have to do to quit—is ring the bell. Ring the bell and you no longer have to wake up at 5 o’clock. Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the freezing cold swims.

Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the runs, the obstacle course, the PT—and you no longer have to endure the hardships of training.

Just ring the bell.

#10. If you want to change the world don’t ever, ever ring the bell.

To the graduating class of 2014, you are moments away from graduating. Moments away from beginning your journey through life. Moments away from starting to change the world—for the better.

It will not be easy.

But, YOU are the class of 2014—the class that can affect the lives of 800 million people in the next century.

Start each day with a task completed.

Find someone to help you through life.

Respect everyone.

Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often, but if you take take some risks, step up when the times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden and never, ever give up—if you do these things, then next generation and the generations that follow will live in a world far better than the one we have today and—what started here will indeed have changed the world—for the better.

Thank you very much. Hook ‘em horns.

1 Comment

Filed under Personal Perspective, The Cultural Revolution