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The Six Skills that Build Anti-Fragile Law Enforcement Officers

Nicole Laethem
April 18, 2024
May 22, 2024
5
min read

It’s no secret that working in law enforcement is one of the most stressful professions around. Though it can also be a rewarding profession, officers face daily stressors that can take a toll on both their physical and mental well-being. The physical and mental health of officers can have an impact beyond the officers, extending to their families, colleagues, and communities. 

In fact, in Police1’s 2022 State of the Industry Survey, 77% of more than 2,000 officers polled said that morale had decreased in their agency in the past year. When asked to select the least satisfying thing about working in law enforcement, 60% chose poor agency leadership. When asked what officers want from their leaders, the response was “to communicate … to be consistent … to care.” 

Building Mental Endurance

That’s where Tactical Longevity comes in. Tactical Longevity Founder and Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Jennifer Prohaska, has created an approach that improves morale by building a supportive culture from the ground up. Her approach values growth through hardship, recognizes achievements despite constant adversity, and empowers officers to take pride in overcoming challenges. This method creates a solid foundation for establishing a healthy environment and positive morale amongst law enforcement officers.  

Dr. Prohaska’s research has shown that adapting and growing stronger in the face of adversity is an essential tool for officers to master. In her Anti-Fragility Mindset Program, she lays out a science-backed blueprint to demonstrate the art of bouncing back, proving that by changing our mindset to embrace the six elements of overcoming adversity, officers can truly thrive. 

Here are the six elements of overcoming adversity and building mental endurance in officers:

Self-Awareness

  • The ability to pay attention to your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, and to consciously know and understand your own motives and desires and how they may contribute to your reactions.

For example, when speaking to others, the wording we use can elicit a particular response, even non-verbally. Being self-aware helps us understand how to best communicate to receive the information or results we need. 

Self-Regulation

  • The ability to change or manage one’s thoughts, emotions, behaviors, or physiology for the purpose of achieving a desired outcome. 

Once you have awareness of your thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and physiology, you can then learn to regulate them to bring you into the desired headspace so you can optimally perform. For example, what you put in your mind will directly impact how you feel. This is known as your “mental diet."

Values

  • The ability to utilize what is most important to you when deciding how to act in any given situation and focus on what is important to you when overcoming challenges. 

What values are most critical to you when leading others? What do you aim to achieve? What do you prioritize when making decisions and operating daily? By thinking about your values, vision, and mission, you’ll be able to act in line with what matters to you, making it more likely for you to feel in control of at least yourself and your decisions in sometimes uncontrollable situations.

Mental Flexibility

  • The ability to look at situations from multiple perspectives, shift ones’ thoughts or actions when presented with new information and respond to unexpected change easily. 

Choose to look at a problem as an opportunity. Think about how that difficult situation will prepare you for even tougher situations in the future. You may not be able to control what happened, but you can control how you think about it.

Accuracy

  • The ability to fairly assess the situation at hand, focus on what you can control, and take intentional action in the direction of what you can control. 

Invest your energy in the things in your control, and don’t waste your time on the things out of your control. Also, understand the difference between an automatic thought and an accurate thought. For example, everyone has automatic thoughts every minute of the day. But not everything we think is completely true. Take the time to distinguish between those automatic, often unhelpful (and emotionally influenced) thoughts, and accurate, or helpful thoughts.

Connection 

  • The ability to build and maintain strong, trusting relationships. 

Being intentional and investing in relationships truly matters. Encourage officers to get to know their co-workers, and make an effort to foster and build those relationships. Lead by example by acknowledging the accomplishments of others, and recognizing the ways others have helped you through challenging situations.

A Focus on Prevention

Dr. Prohaska points out that while there will always be a need for reactive measures, more focus must be given to prevention when it comes to officers’ well-being. By equipping officers with the mindset and tools to prepare for challenges, withstand them, and ultimately grow from them, we can turn potential setbacks into opportunities for transformative personal and professional growth. 

Take our 2-minute quiz to pinpoint your agency’s strengths and areas for growth. You’ll receive a customized report complete with a tailored analysis with actionable recommendations. Together, we can transform our burnt-out workforce into the most antifragile and adaptable group of workers possible. 

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