“Achieving promotion is never an accident. It is the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction, skilful execution and an ability to see obstacles as opportunities”

In the context of preparing for a police promotion selection process I would like to share with you a few of my favourite motivation quotes. In doing so I offer a couple of observations based on my experience of helping officers convert leadership aspiration into promotion success.

“Determine that the thing can and shall be done, and then we shall find the way” – Abraham Lincoln

It’s not easy, it’s hard

Police promotion frustrationsMotivation is literally your desire to do things. There are no guarantees when you aspire to promotion. It’s not easy doing the work to prepare yourself, it’s hard. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it! You have to be motivated just to think about applying. Resilience and mental toughness also helps.

If you are already qualified for promotion you’ll be familiar with the time, focus and dedication necessary to get through that particular gateway!

Deliberate intention

Nothing is more essential to success than keeping yourself motivated. Motivation means choosing to do what you’d rather not do. A lack of knowledge particularly around the Sergeant and Inspector role and initial inability to talk confidently in context of the rank competencies are some ‘gaps’ frequently identified in confidential coach/mentor sessions. These gaps can be bridged with some focused effort including practice and repetition – one great way of learning.

“When we practice something, we are involved in the deliberate repetition of a process with the intention of reaching a specific goal. The words deliberate and intention are key here because they define the difference between actively practicing something and passively learning it” – Thomas Sterner

Sergeant and Inspector

Some focused verbal practice and repetition is an element of your promotion preparation that can build and consolidate personal confidence. Knowing the role, memorising and structuring your evidence – chunking key information – can support your performance in interview helping you to confidently play your part in what should effectively be a professional discussion.


“Act or Accept” – Anonymous

You can focus on what you want to achieve but nobody is going to give it to you. However, if you take massive action to channel your motivation and consider options to aid your momentum, your chances of success are likely to be significantly enhanced.

“Pessimists calculate the odds, optimists believe they can overcome them” – Ted Koppel

It has been said the failure rate for promotion candidates is 75% with the main reason being a simple one – lack of preparation. That’s understandable, because varying levels of confusion exist about how to prepare this is usually combined with the absence of meaningful support.

Many officers succeed on second, third or subsequent attempts. That’s motivation but against the current promotion landscape of reducing vacancies and increasing competition, it makes sense to prepare thoroughly in advance of opportunity while you can – to stack the odds in your favour.

“Understand there are no guarantees, make a bet on your future and then throw everything you’ve got into it” – Cathy Larson

Why are you doing this? Understanding your personal motivation, your ‘Why’ for seeking promotion may be worth some thinking time before you get to work.

Working from the inside out or outside in

Intrinsic motivation originates from within, for example enjoyment of a challenge for its own sake or in solving a problem. Extrinsic motivation arises from external influences causing individuals to seek tangible rewards such as money, praise or to avoid a negative outcome.


Your motivation may be a combination of both. Either way, it’s a powerful influence and a driving force for behaviour – understanding your why is important.

“Success will never be a big step in the future, success is a small step taken just now” – Jonathan Martensson

Maximising potential

You can choose to start preparing now. While you can. Ahead of opportunity. Because you don’t have to. Combined with motivation that can be a powerful approach. At the other end of the spectrum, scrambling to get ‘match fit’ as soon as a a force promotion process is announced is unlikely to maximise your potential.

What can hold you back is fear of failure but if you don’t take action, you’ll fail by default, so what have you got to lose?

Kind Regards, Steve

ACT NOW – Wherever you are on your promotion journey www.ranksuccess.co.uk can help with guidance and support.