A time to reflect and say thank you

There is only one subject that I feel I should blog about tonight. I arrived at work early this morning to hear the terrible news that a Merseyside Police officer had been killed on duty. It may have been 14 years since I worked there but it still felt very close to home. It is only a couple of years since we suffered the same horrific loss of officers on duty. My thoughts immediately went to the officer’s family, friends and colleagues.

We all know that being a police officer comes with risks but no-one will expect to say goodbye to their loved one as they head off to work and for them not to return. It is that risk that officers live with on a daily basis but more than that so do their families.

It reminded me once again why we should say thank you to those people whose work means they put themselves in danger to help others. We rarely think about it until we need those emergency personnel to step in and save us. People need to look beyond the uniform and recognise that every single person that goes out wearing the police uniform is a person with a family, hopes and dreams. It is too easy to just label them as a police officer.

Of course police officers get things wrong, make mistakes and don’t always make the right decision. Why do they do that? Well, because of exactly what I said they are real people with real lives. We can all be quick to judge and also to make sweeping statements about professions, people or groups. But now is the time to reflect on another sad day for the emergency services and to remember what they do for us all.

Let us all take five minutes to think about David Phillips and his family, and then say thank you to all those people who do jobs that keep us safe.

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Sunday night, Monday morning

So it is Sunday night and how are you feeling about a Monday morning back at work? For many people Sunday nights can be a really stressful time as you don’t want to think about the start of another week in work. I have been there myself.

I have had some jobs where I was ecstatic on Friday night, had a good Saturday and then I hit a wall of depression when Sunday came around. For anyone who is going through that, don’t put up with it any longer make a change.

We spend a significant proportion of our lives within work and if you are doing something that you don’t like why not try an alternative. Feeling stuck in a job you dislike really can start to impact on all parts of your life. It makes you difficult to live with, difficult to spend time with and difficult to help.

I am in a privileged position now. After a few years where work was a Sunday nightmare, I am now in a role I thoroughly enjoy and actually look forward to going into work. As I mentioned in a recent blog I am slightly addicted to my work and do like to keep on top of things even at the weekend. It brings with it some other pressures but I would rather have these than to sit trying to turn the clock back so I don’t have to face Monday morning.

So for anyone sat at home not wanting to go to work tomorrow, I understand your pain. All I can say is don’t accept the status quo. Look for something new and in the mean time find a way to cope with the stress of Monday morning.

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A welcome visitor

I had an unusual experience this morning when I was doing the normal Saturday morning duties down at the stables. We were visited by a Police Community Support Officer providing advice and information about avoiding becoming a victim of equine crime. For those who don’t know there is a lot of money tied up in horses and the variety of equipment that they need. Every so often you hear about stables that have been targeted with thousands of pounds of equipment stolen.

The arrival of the PCSO was unusual but of course it wasn’t long before the connection with my own work was highlighted by friends. What followed was a discussion about the state of policing, what was happening, who was where, and the good and bad of the job. Working within the police has a unique quality, and that is how the service is like a family. A rather dysfunctional family at times, but family nonetheless.

It was an interesting conversation and while we do very different jobs in very different places there is always so much that is similar. That is why sharing information, experience, and knowledge is so important. I will be attending a communication conference next week and that will be a fantastic opportunity to take a look at the work we have been doing, look at what others are doing and hopefully come up with some new ideas.

No-one has a monopoly on good ideas. I hope that I have one or two good ideas at work, but it is vital that everyone gets the opportunity to bring forward their ideas, to share them and hopefully implement some of them. The key is also to create an environment that encourages creativity and innovation. Something I have written about quite a lot in recent years.

The conversation with the PCSO ended with one thing we both agreed on and that was how addictive work was. (I blogged about this a week ago and it is so true.) Policing is addictive and I think the reason it is links to the impact it has on everyone and when it works well it can improve people’s lives. I suppose that is why I have been involved for 16 years!

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Time to reflect

We are all busy. We lead busy lives. We put more and more into each day. We rush from one thing to another and keep going. But are we failing to make time for one of the most important things – reflection.

I am one of the worst people for filling every minute of the day. In fact, I oversubscribe my day and try to squeeze far too much into each hour. As soon as one thing is finished I set off onto something else or I attempt to do two things at once. It can be quite productive in the short term but I think I am missing out.

My haste to do things means I often forget to factor in some time to reflect. Having the chance to step back from the hustle and bustle can help you to see things more clearly. It is the time to review, learn and develop that we all need to keep moving forwards. So why don’t we take time to reflect?

I think it has a lot to do with me feeling that is not productive time. That it is time somehow wasted. How wrong that is. For taking time out even for five or 10 minutes during the day, or at key times, can clear my mind and ensure I am not disappearing in the fine detail of what I am dealing with. After a tough week, I am taking some time to consider what could have happened differently or what I could improve in future. Reflection is at the heart of this week’s learning. Step back, take stock and then prepare the way forward.

It is a useful lesson for everyone but particularly the communication professional who may be under huge pressure to keep delivering results. Results are important but so is taking time to reflect.

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Take a fresh look at things

When we go about our daily life it is very easy to get stuck into one way of doing things, one way of looking at life and the events around us. For anyone working in communication this can be a huge disadvantage as you absolutely have to be able to assimilate everything around you and look at different perspectives.

How do we avoid getting stuck in this position? There is no easy answer about how you can keep refreshing your viewpoint. The key has to be about having a number of methods of detaching, looking, and reviewing circumstances. And every time you think you are getting stuck into a rut give yourself a jolt and make sure you take a step in a different direction.

I noticed this week that I was choosing to see things around me in a particular way and in doing this I was always then going to choose the same course of action. It is incredibly limiting in a personal capacity to have this approach. But then it also has a negative effect on my ability to be able to develop communication activity as I bring my baggage into the considerations. I have to recognise this may be a comfortable position but it isn’t the most productive.

The future has to be to challenge my thoughts and perceptions, so that I can see the impact they may have if I let them. Above all I need to take a fresh look at things, events and circumstances around me.

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Addicted to work? Well, possibly.

I have had a busy few days and am sat on a Sunday night doing a bit more work before heading back into the office on Monday morning. It made me think. Why do I love my work so much? Am I addicted to work, and if so why?

For many people in 2015 work has become increasingly demanding. We are all connected 24 hours a day and able to do more hours at work and of course with the financial crisis we are all more focused on ensuring we continue to work. Add to that if you are working in a media related industry it is a 24/7 occupation and there is no time to snooze.

All those things are important to me and will explain a little bit of why I find myself doing increasing amounts of work. However, I think there is something more than that. It is linked to two things; that I work in the public sector and that I work for the police service.

Working in public sector communication is hugely rewarding. Everything that you do has a real impact on people and their lives. You have a big responsibility to ensure that people have knowledge about what you do, how to access services, and to feel they can impact and improve the services.

Police communicators have an additional responsibility. They have the chance to improve safety in communities. They have the chance to help find criminals and wanted people. They have the chance to help protect the most vulnerable in our neighbourhoods. They can do all this because they work alongside police officers and staff to improve the flow of information and they do this round the clock.

I have worked in police communications for around 16 years and still find it an exciting and at times challenging communication role. It brings new things every day and it is this variety, challenge and direct impact on people that make it incredibly rewarding. It is what makes me slightly addicted to working in police communication – and for that I make no apologies.

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What is blogtober?

I had a thought suddenly that came to me today (Saturday 19 September) when I was riding my horse. Ideas can creep up on you in the oddest of places and this morning the idea came from nowhere. It started as one word and then I considered how it could be defined. The word is blogtober.

What is blogtober? For me I want it to be a whole month when we celebrate what is good from the many blogs that exist. Every day somewhere between two and four million blogs are written, according to a range of statistics. That is a lot of words that are being added to the world wide web on an hourly basis. We need to celebrate the creativity of blogs every day during October.

For many people finding really interesting and exciting blogs is difficult and can be time consuming. I want blogtober to be a chance to recognise those amazing blogs that people enjoy but also to share them with others so that they can read something new and hopefully find some articles they can enjoy.

I am encouraging people to start writing a blog, more frequently blog on existing sites, and also to share the best blog sites with others on social media. If you have never written a blog post then why not give it a go during October.

Blogtober will mean for me three things:

  1. More frequent blogging about important communication related subjects
  2. Checking out a new blog to read each day
  3. Encouraging others to read or write a blog

So, what could blogtober mean for you? I will be interested to hear views about what it could be.

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