Here is an alternative to Charles Dickens’ story, “A Christmas Carol”, especially for aspiring police officers…

“No space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunity misused”
Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol


It is late on a cold bleak and biting Christmas Eve. A police officer lays sleeping soundly in bed. Having recently passed the OSPRE law exam to qualify for promotion, his dreams turn to converting his leadership aspirations into promotion success.

He is visited in his sleep by three spirits in succession. Each will chaperone and guide him through his dream.

The Ghost of Promotion Past

2016-12-ghost_pastAt midnight the first spirit arrives and greets the officer. “I can offer you no certainty mortal, none at all, but if you would wish to accompany me to learn of success, failure and the space between… then come with me”.

The officer could not make out a face, only the outline of a figure and followed.

The spirit guided the officer to the first of a series of homes and police stations, informing him “You may only observe. The occupants cannot see you and you cannot hear them. Your speech will return once we leave the last place.”

Moving from street to street, over towns and cities across the UK, the officer witnessed various celebrations.

Finally able to speak, he asks “Spirit, I was privy to so much joy, such happiness, what was the cause of it?”

The spirit replied “What you saw were 100’s of Constables and Sergeants who took promotion seriously, working hard over the year to prepare themselves. You saw them receiving news that they had successfully passed their police promotion boards, succeeding in the process of being promoted to Sergeants and Inspectors.”

“Spirit, I have questions… Why these officers? How did they prepare? What linked their successes?”

At that moment, the noise of loud chimes drowned out the officer’s voice. The ghostly figure fading from view spoke his last words…

“I must go… but you may find some of the answers you seek here…”

The Spirit of Promotion Present

“Men’s courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead,” said Scrooge. “But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change.” Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

2016-12-ghost_presentWhen the chimes subsided, the officer waited. A brief period of silence followed, before the officer felt the second spirit shake his hand. At the same time he heard a calm but reassuring voice.

“Very pleased to meet you. I’m invisible of course, but quite clearly here! No time to spare, so tell me: What do you know about the role you want to be promoted into?”
“Oh… I wasn’t really expecting that!” said the officer.

“It’s possible to predict questions that might form part of your promotion process and also to practice your responses. You can choose to do that at any time,” the spirit replied, “but if you wish, you can also ask questions this night mortal; I must respond.”

The officer thought for a moment, then took advantage of the opportunity. “OK spirit, what did the successful Sergeant’s and Inspectors I saw earlier have in common?”

The spirit responded, “All of them possessed a growth mindset. Many had clearly made a personal commitment to develop themselves in readiness for opportunity, despite knowing their force was not planning any selection processes. The support options they utilised meant that when a process did open ‘unexpectedly’, they were among the most confident and knowledgeable candidates”.

“Spirit” said the officer, “those who prepare ahead of opportunity seem to have almost an unfair advantage in the process!”

“You might think so” the spirit replied, “but I couldn’t possibly comment!”

“I’d like to make a start and take a similar approach” said the officer. “But others believe it’s a waste of time.”

“You are not others” said the spirit, “and life is under no obligation to give you what you expect. Opportunity will not make an appointment with you, you have to be ready when it arrives.”

Loud chimes signalled the departure of the ghost of promotion present. It’s parting words resonated with the officer…

“Do today what others won’t, so that tomorrow you can do what others can’t… Act or Accept.”

The Spirit of Promotion Yet to Come

“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!”
Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

2016-12-ghost_futureAs the last chimes rang out, the officer sensed a strong new presence. “What is your message, spirit?” he asked.

“I have but one task this night” said a peaceful voice. “To show you what lies ahead.”

“Spirit, I seek knowledge of this more than anything else” said the officer.

“Open your eyes” said the voice, “and you will see all there is.”

Opening his eyes, the officer looked around him. “Spirit, I see only a book, each page seems to be blank?”

“Of course” said the spirit. “The book is called ‘Opportunity‘, its first chapter is ‘New Year’s Day’. Each page is yours to write.”

Make your future a bright one.

Kind Regards, Steve

Wherever you are on your promotion journey can help with guidance and support.