When I grow up, I want to be a...

Written by Michael Loarie

It was never difficult for me to decide what I wanted to do when I grew up.  Ever since the age of five (and I am almost 50 now), I wanted to be a police officer.  

By about age ten, I began to realize that adults did not take me seriously about it.  I could readily recognize when I was being pacified, and I learned how to politely ignore them.  Fortunately, my parents supported me and it was that support that I chose to take seriously.  They knew I had a goal and I was serious about it.
As a kid, I remember being almost dumbfounded when I would see a police officer.  My focus would be keen and entirely on what they were doing, how they acted, and wondered what they were thinking.  I always waved or said hello to police officers when I would see them in public.  I was never afraid of them and always respected them.  When I saw them driving their cars with lights and sirens, I would imagine that someday that would be me.   I do not really ever remember any of them talking to me, and I never had a reason for them to do so unless they were just being friendly.  I dedicated myself to my goal to be a police officer.
No one in my family nor my circle of relationships were police officers.  What I knew about them was what I could read or see on television.  They were my heroes.  I held my goal to be one of them in very high regard.
I was fortunate to know what I wanted to be and do;  however, knowing what you want to be and do can only get you so far.  I did become a police officer and have been one for almost 30 years now.  It has been a great career with hard moments but none I regret.  Looking back, I recognize I had rather substantial help that got me to and kept me on point and at the goal to be a police officer.
I had the goal, but I did not get to where I am by myself.  As I mentioned, my parents supported my dream to be a police officer.  They did it by teaching me about responsibility and being a contributor to society.  They did it by holding me accountable to my actions and paying attention to my friends, my decisions, and my attitude.   Funny thing is, they would have done that for anything I declared I was going to do as long as it was good, positive, of quality, and of character.  Role models help us get to the goal.
As I matured, the influence of my parents remained;  however, my wife became the single most supportive person in my life.  She accommodated the crazy schedule and accepted the risky business.  She held me accountable to balance in my life and encouraged me to pursue opportunities so my potential would be reached.  When we want to get to our goal, we need someone there to keep us there.
I am about three years away from retirement.  I will miss my work, my peers, and the whole romance of being in this profession.  But, it will be time to move aside and let the next generation take the lead.  It is time for me to release my goal and to share it with someone else.  

When we have met our goal, we need to know when it is time to conclude it. 

Mike Loarie is a Police Captain at a municipal police department in San Diego County.  He has been in law enforcement for over 30 years and has worked nearly every assignment available. Mike enjoys teaching and studying leadership theory and practice.  Mike has a MS in Executive Leadership from the University of San Diego and a BS in Organizational Leadership from Azusa Pacific University. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.