“Momentum demands that we do what must be done within the time allocated for it.” – Innocent Mwangi
Aesop’s Fables is a series of short stories with life lessons or morals. One you may be familiar with tells of a tortoise accepting a hare’s challenge to a race. An absurd prospect, but the tortoise wins by adopting the strategy of a steady, determined approach. He starts the race, maintains momentum to the finish line and beats the boastful, over-confident hare.
Having supported hundreds of officers to successfully achieve promotion, I believe the hare and the tortoise are a great analogy for how aspiring officers approach promotion opportunities. In my experience, the tortoise wins almost every time.
“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it again?” – John Wooden
I’m contacted by a lot of angry hares. The bitter sting of disappointment, frustration and sense of disbelief at failing a promotion board can really smart. Having to start all over again means they want to know what they missed. The requirement to be at your very best can easily be overlooked. I should clarify; any anger is normally directed inwardly. It’s part of the reflection process. It dawns that just like the hare in the fable, they set off too late. Shiftwork, a task driven focus and competing priorities can be overwhelming. Having to raise your game quickly is quite a challenge.
I’m quite used now to being a sounding board for angry hares. I’m always happy to help because there is a lot of honest reflection in these conversations. “I was written up really well”, “I’ve been acting/temporary rank for a year”, or “I’m liked, respected and supported by supervisors, they put me forward”. Others freely admit they were “coasting”, “maybe overconfident” or went into the process “flying by the seat of my pants”. All missed the opportunity to perform on the day to realise their potential.
Contacting me is often a last resort for some who have entered the race a few times, for example:
“After four unsuccessful interviews I knew I needed to take positive steps towards getting promoted. I attended one of Steve’s Master classes and found it invaluable. It brought into focus for me that there are no shortcuts… at my next interview I was successful! I highly recommend Rank Success.” – Rachel, Sergeant
“I’ve tried for 9 years and sat 7 boards. This year I fully embraced your promotion Masterclass and passed, thanks for your help. Will definitely return for my inspectors” – Dan, Sergeant
“After 4 previous attempts at promotion to Inspector over 8 years, this was a final attempt.” – David, Inspector
As a coach, I believe in the potential of every officer. The fact that someone wants to attempt the process again displays resilience and indicates a growth mindset. I believe officers can convert their leadership aspiration into promotion success even if at that stage, they don’t. My job is to help encourage and support and to refocus effort, this time by adopting the tortoise’s perspective.
No matter what natural ability or skills you have, failing to plan is planning to fail. A plan helps tremendously. The tortoise in Aesop’s Fable had an idea of how the race might be won, a simple plan. Coincidentally, the Inspector’s role includes developing and implementing plans, Sergeants develop action plans too so what’s yours? For example:
- What do you know about the role? How are your values?
- What evidence do you have aligned to the CVF competencies?
- How will you structure your interview responses?
Working back from the next promotion process, what can you do right now to build momentum?
Here’s some post-race quotes from ‘Joyful Tortoises’ who have heeded this advice:
- Michelle (Inspector): “I’m delighted… I passed!”
- Naz (Sergeant): “I am over the moon!”
- Dave (Inspector): “I am overjoyed!”
- Nick (Sergeant) – “I’m on top of the world!”
Ready, Set, No?
“Some people don’t like competition because it makes them work harder, better.” – Drew Carey
If you are uncertain, unsure or stuck on where to start, here’s a powerful insight into the planning that many joyful tortoises committed to in order to prevail in highly competitive events. I hope it resonates with you:
“Steve, I have just passed my Inspector Board, achieving top marks in the presentation, interview and briefing exercise! Attending your Promotion Masterclass transformed my preparation and was a light bulb moment. It taught me structure, best delivery of my examples and a comprehensive understanding of the CVF. Following this up with reading your eBooks and blogs, coupled with many hours of practice nailed it for me. My journey after disappointment at last year’s board is complete! I should have done this years ago.” – Jamie (Inspector)
The race is on and you’re in control. So why not supercharge your momentum now? You can download a comprehensive Sergeant / Inspector digital promotion toolkit, and/or attend one of my upcoming Autumn Masterclasses to really hit the ground running.