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From Car Chases to Academic Pursuits

Change is not easy, this is one of the hardest things I have had to do.

There was a time when I considered my career in policing the "be all and end all".  I loved the job and the challenges it gave me.  But as time went on, I felt something was missing. Then, one night as I walked into the police station to start my night shift, I saw something that made me question my purpose. I saw my colleagues doing the exact same thing; going to start their shifts.  I knew at once I wasn't alone in this act.  In fact, I realized in an instant that it wasn't a unique situation at all, but one being repeated hundreds and thousands of times a day all around the globe. I wanted to be different- I wanted to make a meaningful difference to people's lives on a greater scale.  I'd had an opportunity in Brantford (a city 1 hour west of Toronto, Canada) to develop, launch and lead some unique projects (our Situation Table, Mobile Crisis Rapid Response and Community Asset Engagement Programs) that had changed lives for the better, but at that moment; on a cold, rainy, late-fall night, after almost three decades of policing, I realized that I was done and it was now time to leave.  

Leaving a 27 plus year career in policing to pursue my Masters in Business Administration (M.B.A), in Scotland at the University of Edinburgh Business School, has taken a great deal out of me.  Selling everything, leaving everything behind, my colleagues, friends, family, pets and a job I loved for the unknown…but there is a brighter side to the picture, the acquiring of new knowledge, skills and abilities to be applied practically on a Global scale.

I look at those key historical figures from the past who led the way, going on adventures, pioneering new fields, giving up everything in the pursuit of something better, something greater, something that would make a more significant difference to a greater number of people and leave the world a better place.

This is what drives me.

On August 23rd, I took off my uniform for the last time, and September 11 is the last day I carry my active police Sergeant's badge before trading it for a retirement one.  Tomorrow I put on my new "uniform", the business suit and set out into unknown waters to find out what lies ahead. To learn and see what difference I can make.

For years, I knew or knew how to get the answers.  The time I spent as a road constable, community officer, and in the role of training sergeant gave me that skill.  As unfamiliar as the path may be, I haven't lost that skill; I will find the answers.  I maintain the ability to teach, train and develop programs.  I can and will talk to anyone about anything.   I will learn.  I will explore.  

I will grow.

The foundational skills that brought me here haven't gone anywhere; they are going to get a real workout though!

In the public sector and in particular in policing, we all talk about "retirement", that day when we can finally hang up the harness, hand in our gun and live at home in peace.  It's ironic that I don't hear people talking like that in the private sector. Instead, here all the talk is about "Pivots".  

What you were doing, becomes what you are doing, becomes what you will do next.  I don't hear any talk about "retirement" the same way we used to.  It doesn't even seem to be a consideration, and that is certainly in keeping with how I saw my grandfather who worked until he was in his 90's selling mutual funds, my great-uncle who was still doing private loans at 90 and my father who still works a 10-hour day at 78.  They understood this.  They may have "retired" from one job, but they always had something else to grow into. They pivoted and became something else.

So, on Tuesday, I will officially pivot out of policing into academia.  And after that, from academia into business, and on it will go.  I will continue to grow, learn and develop new knowledge, skills and abilities to mesh with the never-to-be-forgotten old ones, always remembering where I have come from and having an open and expectant mind, looking around the corner to the new and exciting challenges that lie ahead.

There will be no giving up, and no full-on retirement in my future. Only new paths and new adventures to have.  To quote our favourite family movie, Secondhand Lions, I will "go out with my boots on"!

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