Enjoy this post by guest blogger, Doug Dickerson. Doug is a personal friend of mine and colleague in the battle for integrity. He has written a book on leadership called: Leaders Without Borders: 9 Essentials for Everyday Leaders. I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of my autographed copy to my hooch here in Kabul. You can order yours at: www.dougsmanagementmoment.blogspot.com. He is also available for speaking engagements. I hope that Doug will be a regular contributor to the Police Dynamics Blog…

Sheriff Ray


Are You Stuck in a Rut?

Nothing endures but change.

–          Heraclitus

I read a story not long ago about the standard railroad gauge. That is the distance between rails – 4 feet, 8 ½ inches. One might wonder why such an odd number but also what is has to do with them personally. As a student of leadership and as one who looks closely at organizational leadership; you might be surprised.

According to the story, the reason for the odd number is because that is the way they were built in England, and American railroads were built by British expatriates – that is, people who used to live in Britain.

They used that particular gauge because the pre-tramways used that gauge. They in turn were locked into that gauge because the people who built tramways used the same standards and tools they had used for building wagons, which were on the gauge of 4ft., 8 ½ inches.

Why were the wagons set to that scale? With any other size, the wheels did not match the old wheel ruts on the roads. So who built the old rutted roads?

The first long distance highways in Europe were built by Imperial Rome for the benefit of their legions. The roads have been used ever since. The ruts were first made by Roman war chariots. Four feet, 8 ½ inches was the width a chariot needed to be to accommodate the two rear ends of war horses.

Maybe “that’s the way it’s always been” isn’t the good reason some people believe it is. The causes of ruts are varied and complex. Be it boredom, the trap of falling into the monotony of a routine, or lack of vision or inspiration, it can happen to the best of us.

In order to remain relevant it is important not to allow ruts that you find yourself in to be your grave. Are you stuck in a rut? Here are three questions to answer to help you get out of it.

Are you too comfortable? In other words, are you too reliant on the traditions of the past? The easiest trap to fall into, in part, is based upon familiarity. The mind set of “this is the way we’ve always done it,” are the reins of the plow that digs the rut.

Tradition not only shows us our history, but if we are entrenched in it, shows us our future. While I do not advocate dishonoring a sound work ethic and morale that propelled you to where you are today; neither do I advocate holding on to it at the expense of your future progress. Find the balance between the two and move forward.

Comfort zones inoculate us from that which we perceive as a threat or from embracing new ways of thinking and leading. While you might feel safe there, you will not fully grasp the measure of your potential if you stay there.

Are you afraid to take risks? Herodotus said, “Great deeds are usually wrought at great risks.” In this economy it is not wise to throw caution to the wind and make uninformed decisions. Simply put, risk taking is a calculated decision based on all the facts that tend to trend in your favor of a desired outcome.

What does General Electric, Hyatt Corporation, HP, FedEx, LexisNexis, CNN, and many other companies all share in common? They were start-ups during times of recession. They succeeded because leaders at the helm recognized a market need and filled it.

What risks are you afraid to take? What is the worse thing that can happen if you take it and fail? What are the regrets you will have if you don’t? John F. Kennedy said, “There are risks and costs to a program of action. But they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.”

Is your thinking too small? Ruts have a way of making us feel secure in mediocrity. Ruts lull us into a sense of satisfaction in believing that as long as we are moving forward then all is well. Ruts box us in and provide us with few options. Ruts limit our vision.

As you answer the previous questions you can emerge from ruts that have held you back. Christopher Reeve said, “So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they become inevitable.”

Ruts make you comfortable, afraid to take risks, and kill your dreams. What ruts do you need to break free from?

© 2011 Doug Dickerson

Doug Dickerson is an award winning columnist and leadership speaker. He is the author of the new book, Leaders Without Borders: 9 Essentials for Everyday Leaders. Visit www.dougsmanagementmoment.blogspot.com to learn more.


Category: Guest Bloggers

About the Author


2 Responses to Are You Stuck in a Rut?

  1. Great points on aggressively pursuing my dreams by courageously looking above any rut that is limiting my actions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *

Sheriff Ray Nash

Sheriff Ray Nash

Free Training Resources

The Benefits of Good Character
49 Character Qualities
10 Virtues of a Law Officer
Police Dynamics Intro Video

GET INSTANT ACCESSS NOW


Subscribe via Email


Subscribe via RSS Feed


Follow on Twitter


What Law Enforcement and Community Leaders Are Saying About Police Dynamics

“A few years ago, we brought the Police Dynamics program to the Cincinnati Police Division and were most impressed with the quality of the training and richness of the program.”
Mike Daly
Character Council of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky

"I have attended training conducted by the Police Dynamics Institute in the past and know Ray Nash both personally and professionally. They have my whole-hearted endorsement…"
Sheriff Larry Williams
Orangeburg, SC

"I cannot tell you how excited I am to see this website. I was introduced to your video on the Dynamics of Authority through my father who is a police chaplain for the FBI and local law enforcement agencies here in Las Cruces. I have taught and applied the Dynamics model to my students when I was a teacher, and now to my department as a fire fighter."
Nathan Carr
Las Cruces Fire Dept.

“One of the greatest seminars I have ever attended in the 33 years I’ve been a Deputy.”
Walter Bolinger
Sergeant
Marion County Sheriff’s Office, IN

"I was so impressed by the (Police Dynamics) program that I purchased your video tape series. All Grand County Sheriff’s Employees subsequently viewed the tapes, and I have also mandated that all new Sheriff’s Employees watch it as well."
Glen Trainor
Undersheriff
Grand County Sheriff’s Office

"It is with much enthusiasm that I encourage senior law enforcement executives to make attending the Police Dynamics seminar a key training priority for your agency."
DeWayne Beggs
Sheriff
Cleveland County, OK
former 2nd VP - National Sheriff's Association

"I am convinced of the benefits of the Police Dynamics program."
Jerry Martin
Sheriff
Delores County, CO
former Pres - County Sheriff's of Colorado

"Honestly, I’ve not been more impressed with a police training that I’ve attended in the last 20 years..."
Tom McClain
Chief of Police
Willard, MO

"I am a firm believer that Police Dynamics and Character First! equip the men and women that work for the Oklahoma Sheriff’s Office to do their job and do it better."
John Whetsel
Sheriff
Oklahoma County, OK

"If you believe that good character is an essential element in policing, you will want to send your key staff to Police Dynamics."
David Williams
Sheriff
Tarrant County, TX

"In the three years prior to our character initiative, we had 42 labor and employee grievances, and seven different lawsuits. In the three years since we put the character initiative in place, we have had two grievances and no lawsuits from employees. I think that, in and of itself, is significant."
Rodney Ray
City Manager
Owasso, OK

"This course was one of the best training sessions that I’ve been through. This concept will benefit me and the staff in my division."
Police Dynamics participant

[We have] more awareness of the preventative benefits of a character initiative as opposed to the typical reactive approach to situations. There is a sense of excitement by organization leaders as they begin to see a change in their culture. Bob Powell
Character Council
Fort Collins, CO

"[The Police Dynamics training] brings us closer together, more like a family … it reminds us of why we’re out there and what it’s about.”
Captain John Decker
Dorchester County Sheriff's Office, SC

"This class gave me the vocabulary that I have been looking for to praise and motivate my employees."
Police Dynamics participant

"We’ve built a much better relationship with each other. We’ve seen a decrease in complaints. We’ve become a family instead of a place to work."
Sheriff Howie Godwin
Highlands County, FL

“This shows us a new approach to recognize employees’ character traits - and to acknowledge them for those good traits versus, 'You did an excellent job…' It’s some fresh ideas in an area that we probably all need to change."
Major P.D. Taylor
Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office

"The Police Dynamics training that Ray Nash brought teaches the things that are at the core of being a good police officer – being trustworthy, being of good character…"
Sgt. Julie Shearer
Cincinnati Police Div.

“In the Police Dynamics training seminar, the officers are able to set a standard in their own lives of the kind of character they want to see in their community."
Chaplain Carl Nelson
Colorado Springs Police Department

"Character is the solution to the real problem in our community of crime. Character supplies the answer."
Hon. F.A. Schad
Former Judge
Burleson, TX

“I want you to know that my international and national career was very much influenced by your lessons and knowing you was of paramount importance for my job and career. Many Romanian police officers are grateful to you and to Character training."
Teofil Parasca
Assistant Superintendent
Arad County Police
Romania

"I would like to work more toward management by principles instead of rules – with an emphasis on character and guiding principles."
Chief Lynn Williams
Chickasha, OK

“We need to return to our basic character traits that made this country great. Ray Nash has the program to do it."
Police Dynamics participant

"This shows us a new approach to recognize those employees’ character traits and to recognize and acknowledge them for those good traits versus, “You did an excellent job…” It’s some fresh ideas in an area that we probably all need to change."
Major P.D. Taylor
Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office

"In the three years prior to our character initiative, we had 42 labor and employee grievances, and seven different lawsuits. In the three years since we put the character initiative in place, we have had two grievances and no lawsuits from employees. I think that, in and of itself, is significant."
Rodney Ray
City Manager
Owasso, OK

"Absolutely fantastic! It reminded me of why I wanted to be a peace officer."
Police Dynamics participant

"the finest value-added training anywhere."
Sheriff David Williams
Tarrant County, TX

"We continue to benefit from your teaching and hire with a strong emphasis on character."
Chief Tom McClain
Willard, MO

"Once again, I feel absolutely indebted to you for the program you have developed and your desire to change the world through the building of better law enforcement officers."
Glen P. Trainor
Undersheriff
Grand County, CO

"Sheriff Ray Nash is an internationally recognized speaker that you and your staff will learn powerful principles from, while enjoying the lesson."
DeWayne Beggs
Sheriff
Cleveland County, OK

"Very comprehensive, a great resource manual for the future. The seminar was dynamic in every way. What a great resource for people throughout their day-to-day routines.”
Doug Carter
Trooper
Indiana State Police