I was engaged in a conversation with a peer today that concerned the ability to continue with a not-so-popular initiative that is being introduced in her community located in another state. There was a high level of frustration of the resistance to the initiative and the potential for failure was very real.
After we finished the conversation. I glanced over at a document I have mounted on the wall of my office. It is a quote from President Theodore Roosevelt. I’ve listed it below:
It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.
I’ve posted this quote here before and more than likely I’ll post it again sometime. It bears repeating these days. Part of leadership is the willingness to risk– to work toward change. It’s not an excuse for reckless behavior but if those who came before us had taken the safe route, we’d probably be living in Europe because no one would have taken the risk to find out if the world was flat.
When it comes to policing in the US, we don’t have the option of “sitting out the dance.” Innovation and creativity comes with risk and often ridicule…somtimes hostility. Those leaders like Roosevelt understood the risk, ridicule and hostility was a price to be paid. To move forward to benefit our future generations requires a forward thinking vision like that shared by our founding fathers. It means shifting or changing the paradigm, challenging the status quo, asking questions and making changes; often dragging those digging in their heels screaming and yelling into the new millennium. The quality of life for future generations will be determined by how well we do our jobs and how well we look to the future.
Our communities should expect no less of us.