“No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.” – Confucius
Today a Reader, Tomorrow a Leader.
Officers successfully promoted to Sergeant and Inspector are generally well-read. As a result, they are significantly more prepared than their competition.
Candidates currently aspiring to promotion in the police service might be wise to heed Harry Truman’s observation:
“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers”.
Unless reading happens to be a personal passion or forms part of academic study, it’s understandable that reading sometimes takes a back seat. Emails, text and social media offer to bite-size chunks of information, but for many of us these circumvent the need for wider reading.
As part of a focused approach to promotion preparation, busy officers appreciate signposting for targeted reading.
I Haven’t Got Time to Read
“The book you don’t read won’t help.” – Jim Rohn
I often ask aspiring promotion candidates, “What are you reading?” Responses are honest, sometimes amusing, but rarely surprising.
“I’m not reading anything” is a typical reply. “I haven’t got time to read” is probably the most common response. That’s a good thing, because the only possible direction from there is forward! There’s no escaping the fact that if you’re not reading, this is a huge gap in your effective preparation for promotion.
For some who do read, a familiar theme is perusing the entirety of their own force policies in the mistaken belief this is time well spent.
I love the way philosopher A.C.Grayling describes reading:
“To read is to enter other points of view; it is to be an invisible observer of circumstances, which might never be realised in one’s own life; it is to meet people and situations exceeding in kind and number, the
possibilities open to individual experience. As a result, reading not only promotes self-understanding, it equips one with insights into needs, interests and desires that one might never share but which
motivate others, in this way enabling one to understand, and tolerate and even to sympathise with other people’s concerns”.
If that doesn’t convince you of the benefits of wider reading or the link to leadership skills, then I’m not sure what will.
“How many have dated a new era in their life from the reading of a book?” Henry David Thoreau
Many promotion candidates unwittingly overlook reading as part of their continuous personal development (CPD). Policing is a particularly demanding job, but ultimately each of us has the same 24 hours in a day. Reading for personal growth is a critical element of leadership development, raising awareness and provoking thoughts.
Oscar Wilde offered a view that lends itself to anyone seeking career progression:
“Its what you read when you don’t have to, that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.”
Once the significance of this is understood, questions naturally arise including:
- Have I left things too late?
- Where should I start?
- What can I read that will help?
A Final Chapter
“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture, just get people to stop reading them.” – Ray Bradbury
Taking a serious and focused approach to your promotion preparation should encompass wider reading, well in advance of any promotion opportunity. Don’t be too serious, there should always be room for some humour.
On that note, I would like to take this opportunity to wish every one of you the very best in your endeavours; I’ll let Groucho Marx have the last say:
“From the moment I picked up your book until I put it down, I was convulsed with laughter. Someday I intend reading it.”
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