Is Your Purpose in Life Based on Self Awareness and Strength of Character or Are You Just Following the Crowd?

"A man's true greatness lies in the consciousness of an honest purpose in life, founded on a just estimate of himself and everything else, on frequent self-examinations, and a steady obedience to the rule which he knows to be right, without troubling himself about what others may think or say, or whether they do or do not that which he thinks and says and does."   - Marcus Aurelius

As police officers, we oftentimes find ourselves following the crowd, conforming or what I like to call following the follower. Sometimes we do this because it’s a policy and procedure based conformity. We do it because we must! Other times we get so caught up in a training method or some school solution we develop a relationship with the method or solution we fail to see other options. Col. John Boyd called this incestuous amplification. It’s been called group think, or even peer pressure or peer contagion. Even if the method we are using we know does not fit the situation we are so wrapped up in, so dedicated to it we continue march and follow the crowd oftentimes literally straight to the front door or in other words THE AMBUSH SIGHT.

The quote from Marcus Aurelius’ speaks to what often I have seen missing from police officers and that is steady obedience to the rule which he knows to be right. All too often police officers allow peer pressure to impact their tactical or I should say lack of tactical decision making. Too often cops make decisions for the wrong reasons, responding rashly, high diddle, diddle straight up the middle the devil be damned when they know damn well a tactical response with calculated risks would be a better more effective option. Its lack of self-awareness, weakness in character that breeds this lack of moral courage in policing. As cops, we do not talk about it, not candidly and honestly. And we need to be because it’s the only way to great policing.

Now I know we are all hypocrites. We all fall short. We can all, strive to do and be better. Why the words of Marcus Aurelius words “a man’s true greatness lies in the consciousness of an honest purpose in life” which is based on a deep honest look inside. Then we do what we know needs to be done because it’s the right thing to do based on our strength of character, gathering information, collaboration, deliberation and reasoning. This is much different than following the crowd for the sake of getting along or getting ahead. There are clearly benefits to strength of character, truth and respect for oneself. It breeds selfless service to others as we strive to improve ourselves.

What’s your purpose in life and are you really striving towards greatness?

Stay Oriented!