Who Needs Goals?


The following post is from Roy Bethge, Co-Founder + Lead Instructor at The Virtus Group

I do, that’s who.  And so do you.  I spent a great deal of my life waking up each day and going through the motions.  No real direction—just jumped on the hamster wheel and was happy when it stopped spinning at the end of each day.  It really wasn’t until 2007, after being encouraged by my wife to go back to school and get my Bachelor’s Degree, that I really set my sights on something specific that would take some time to accomplish.  After reaching that goal, I was hooked and quickly set another.  In 2012, I achieved that goal by earning my Masters Degree.
When I look back at any real success I can claim, each revolves around a goal.  Even if it wasn’t written down, the goal resulted from intentional actions that led me to the goal.  Think about weight-loss for a minute.  I’ve struggled most of my life with weight.  It really is more of a food problem in that I LOVE TO EAT!  At my peak I weighed 231 pounds.  That’s a lot of weight on a 5’11” frame.  Back in 2010 with two young kids, I set the goal to lose some weight and get back in shape.
Sounds good doesn’t it?  It’s now 2016 and I finally hit my goal and am probably in the best shape of my life.  Since 2010 I’ve lost 60 pounds, I run 20-25 miles per week and do body weight exercises three days a week.  It wasn’t, and isn’t easy.  It really did take six years – not just to lose the weight, but to get off the roller coaster that would see me drop some weight only to put it back on again.  Bad choices, lots of excuses, a foot injury requiring minor surgery that stopped me in my tracks, and downright laziness.

Even though I’ve been comfortably at my target weight for some time now I’ve learned that I need a new goal and intentional effort to keep the weight off.  I log food and exercise daily.  I weigh myself every day and hold myself accountable for my failures – yes, I still have them.

Regardless of your goals, you have to set an intentional path to achieve them.  You can only do that by figuring out what the goal is, sharing it with someone else, and stepping through the pursuit of the goal each and every day. 

What are your goals?  Try writing them down, coming up with a step-by-step plan to achieve your goal, and then share it with someone that can help hold you accountable. 

  • Written Goals – help you clarify what the goal is and commit to accomplishing it.
  • Planning – Identify the steps it takes to achieve your goal.  Understand that most goals worth achieving take hard work and time to accomplish.  Give yourself some credit each time you make progress.  Remember, life is a marathon and not a sprint.  You can’t successfully finish a marathon without running the first 5K, 10K and Half Marathon of your way to the finish line.
  • Share your Goal – Research has shown that goals are much more likely to be successful if you tell someone else what you plan to do.  Give the person you share the goal with permission to hold you accountable.  Sometimes what you really need to continue on the road to your goal is a swift kick in the rear end.

Stop waiting.  Today is the day.  Don’t get a year down the road only to regret that you didn’t start pursuing your goals today.

This blog post is written by The Virtus Group member Jamey Gadoury

Maybe that vein in your neck bulges just to hear the question.

You're not alone. Gauntlets are being thrown against both words. Seth Stoughton calls the warrior mentality a "Problem." (CLICK for article) Dave Smith calls a guardian mindset the position of "uninformed activists."  (CLICK for article)
The topic cuts to the core of identity as law enforcement officers. Who are you in uniform? Who are you when you take the uniform off? Who are you at the core?
 It also hints at another question:  what about law enforcement sets it apart from other "jobs?"
High standards, professional behavior, and trust are all familiar concepts. Less familiar might be a holistic view of law enforcement as a profession - both similar and unique among other recognized professions.
My background is in one of those other professions - the military. During my years of service as an Infantryman, I was privileged to learn from leaders who carefully shaped the professional identities of their units. Mistakes and bad behaviors were sometimes warded off from a simple understanding of "that's not who we are."
Still, at the time, I did not fully understand or appreciate what it meant to be part of a profession. A few years ago, the Army went through an extensive, several-year campaign of debating and communicating exactly that: what it means to be part of a profession.
I had the opportunity to learn and to teach during that campaign. And I think the lessons are timely for law enforcement today.
I'd like to share some of those insights and host a conversation for you and your fellow leaders on what that means for the profession of law enforcement. This course gives us the chance to do that:
Warriors & Guardians: Keeping Our Profession
The following is a blog post from The Virtus Group member Laura King, Ph.D.

It happens to the best of us.  One day, we wake up (proverbially) and we realize our actions and our words are not necessarily in line.  I am not talking about extreme hypocrisy or huge indiscretions here.  I am talking about the subtle ways we might not be walking our talk.  The big question is; if this happens to you, will you have the courage to take the necessary action to right the wrongs?

So the other day I am giving a presentation on the concept of simplification. The content was designed to bring about self-reflection for the attendees.  There was deep exploration of exercises designed to identify core values and priorities.  Then there was a discussion on how we spend our time, and if the way we spend our time was in line with what we claim our priorities to be (an authentic life) or if it was not (living our life according to someone else’s agenda). 

I found myself fascinated with the content.  The research was complex and brought me to places I had never even considered.   It was not until the presentation was over that it really started to sink in that I was doing very, very little of what I was presenting.  I mentioned this to a friend of mine and she said something that struck me.  She stated when a researcher was allowed to choose a topic; the subconscious always guides the researcher to an area where the researcher needs the lesson more than the audience. As I considered what my friend said, I realized when it came to my research into simplification, she was right. 

Uh-oh, what do I do now? Do I admit it and stand to say, “I am ashamed.  I failed to lead by example. I stood here and told you to do something and I was not doing it myself.”  Or do I pretend everything is fine and keep on going along as if I never had this revelation.  If I were to just keep going and I keep doing the things I have been teaching on this whole time, maybe nobody would realize my indiscretion.  These subtle matters are more difficult that they appear when presented in the written word.

It is fully possible no one outside of my closest inner circle would even notice where I was failing, but I knew the truth.  I admitted my mistakes and the changes I needed to so that my actions came in line with my words.  This was no easy task but it was the right thing to do. For each of us, those internal decisions are ours to make.  This is the true test of our character.  When you make a mistake, do you own it and have the courage to change yourself; or do you excuse it and keep living the lie?

Those questions and answers occur within each of us from time to time. Often the people in our lives we interact with everyday do not even know we are engaging in this important internal dialog.  You see the hardest person you will ever lead will be yourself. It is easy to see how other people are imperfect in what they say and what they do.  It is much more difficult to see the subtle flaws in your own behavior. When you want to look at how to make your work experience better, instead of looking around and blaming your environment try looking inside and seeing what part of the problem you can own.  Then take the next right action to fix it.

Doing something to make you better makes the entire profession better.  In fact, it is impossible for any part of the profession to improve without each and every person taking small steps of personal growth.  We all need to commit to adjusting our behaviors to be better tomorrow than we are today.  It is time for each of us to take a hard look in the mirror and see what we can do to improve ourselves.  This will help heal our profession.  Blame is easy, responsibility is hard.  If we continue to look outside for the source of the problem we will continue to identify with how others are the cause of the problem.  If this continues we will continue to deny responsibility and things will remain as they are today.  Through a consistent series of courageous action, we can make changes that can make a difference.   

This is a post from Lou Hayes.


Next week, police instructors from around the globe will be converging on Chicago. The International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (more affectionately known as “ILEETA”, pronounced eye-LEE-ta) brings 800 cop trainers together for a six-day conference, with incredible networking and information sharing opportunities.

This year, The Virtus Group will be presenting a 5-part series of breakout sessions under the “Growing Courage™” banner. The Growing Courage™ program is built upon five fundamental tenets: Mindset; Vulnerability; Respect; Self-Reflection; and Resilience. Each of our five courses applies the Growing Courage™ philosophy to the group’s interconnected web of ideas, theories, and concepts…with the sole purpose to develop better instructors, teachers, trainers, and educators. The courses are:

•    Growing Courage™ for Trainers; Roy Bethge
•    Growing Courage™: Nurturing Adaptive Learning; Louis Hayes
•    Growing Courage™: The Adaptive FTO; Thom Dworak
•    Simplify: Getting Back to Basics; Dr Laura King, PhD
•    Human Factors in Training & Performance; John Bennett
Each two-hour portion of the series will be offered two times during the week. There is no need to attend them in any specific order. And while they are all related to one another with a consistent theme, they are each designed as stand-alone courses for those who cannot attend them all. Conveniently, ILEETA has scheduled many of our sessions back-to-back in the same room!
I will also be intermittently live-video broadcasting from the conference via the live-streaming Periscope app. Find me on Periscope at @LouHayesJr. The event’s Twitter hashtag is #ILEETA16…which I’ll be using throughout the week.

If you’re attending the ILEETA Conference next week, come find us. In the meantime, text COURAGE to 66866 to sign up for our e-mailing newsletter.

See you in Chicago!

Louis Hayes, Jr is a system thinker and provocateur for The Virtus Group, Inc, a firm devoted to developing public safety leadership. He is a law enforcement trainer with biases in Constitutional law, crisis intervention, and tactical policing. Lou can be reached on Twitter @LouHayesJr and under #ThinkLE.  

Be sure to follow these ideas at @TheVirtusGroup.