Adapted for a Los Angeles Sheriff Department Publication
I just accomplished in four minutes and fifty-three seconds what ten years ago would have taken days. Why, because I am connected. You see, the information that I needed was easily found with a web search and a few clicks. The system that we call the internet has transformed culture and increased efficiency. That’s what efficient systems do.
Consider the bigger question: How would you develop such a system? Imagine it’s you in 1969, sitting at the table, and someone posits the question: How can we put the entire corpus of human understanding into one place, and access anything we want in under five minutes? Every needed component was there in 1969, but to conceive of, and build the system would have been impossible. Systems as transformational as the internet build with time. I would hope that if I had been in that meeting, I would not have tried to envision the modern understanding of the internet. Rather, I hope my response would have been smaller; something like, “Hey John, you have a computer at Stanford right? I do too, let’s see if we can get those things connected over a wire!” That’s exactly what happened. On October 29, 1969 Stanford and UCLA connected computers for the very first time. It was the “great first connection” known as Arpanet.
The internet sprang from that first connection, and as powerful a force as the internet is, if we all turned off our computers at 12:01 GMT tomorrow, the internet would instantly cease to exist. It is only alive because of connections.
These realities apply as much to our careers as they do to the internet. For those of us who are charged with public safety, connectedness is extremely important. Making connections is what gives us the ability to be protected and have another’s back in the field. Being spiritually connected allows us to have that moral center that keeps us balanced and allows us to make ethical decisions. The connections that we have with family are what drives us to make it home each night. You may not realize it, but personal connections are the most transformational influences in your life.
Let’s face it, life and career require far more than just showing up, writing reports, and doing your duty. Ask yourself; “How can I make that ‘first great connection’ to change the life of another?”
Do you have a trainee that needs an introduction to the guys who are getting it done? Does the battered woman from last night’s call need to be connected to a local minister or shelter? Does that coworker who is on the edge need support from ESSB or the Chaplains? Do your kids need to know that you love them more than anything else in the world? The world gets too complicated when we try to figure out the big picture. Seek something smaller by looking for one great connection.