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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

5 Ways to feel the holiday spirit

It’s that time of the year again when the holiday spirit is all around us. And I say: Why not make the most of it by enjoying it?

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Yes, it’s that time of the year again when the holiday spirit is all around us. In a country like the Philippines, it – in fact – started as early as September (when what is called the -ber months started, covering September-December) and won’t end until mid-January, when Filipinos mark the Feast of the Three Kings. So the holiday spirit is really inescapable, as malls are decked in Christmas-related decors, kids start their door-to-door caroling (for a fee), offices hold once-a-year parties (as bosses hand out annual bonuses to employees), and DJs in radio stations/TV anchors keep counting the days left before we all mark Christmas and the start of the New Year.

This is not to say that everyone is touched by the holiday spirit. Because there are some who feel the stress brought by the season instead of the joys it brings. And so for these people, partaking in the festivities isn’t necessarily easy.

Worry not, though: With the belief that this season should be enjoyed by everyone (not just kids), we have here five ways to help get you in the festive spirit.

1.  Play the right music.

There’s a running joke in the Philippines – i.e. that the moment you hear Jose Mari Chan’s Christmas in Our Hearts being played on air, it must already be Christmas. This makes Chan adored… and admittedly hated by some.

But the thing is, you don’t have to just stick to Chan’s songs because there’s more to Christmas music than Chan and, yes, jingle bells and reindeer. And many of the popularly played music for the holidays are chart-toppers.

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There’s more to Christmas music than Jose Mari Chan and, yes, jingle bells and reindeer.
Photo by Mohammad Metri from Unsplash.com

In the UK, the modern fascination with the race for the festive No. 1 started in 1973, thanks to glam rock bands Slade and Wizzard. Not surprisingly, the Christmas No. 1 has been a feature of the UK Singles Chart since 1952, after the week’s best-selling singles was first published in the New Music Express.

Here are some interesting FYIs:

  • 35% of all Christmas No. 1s are cover songs – meaning originality isn’t always the best way to go when it comes to Christmas singles, given that covers account for 23 of the 66 festive number ones
  • Four acts have ever had multiple Christmas No. 1s: The Beatles, Queen, Cliff Richard and Spice Girls
  • Just 12 out of 66 number ones are actually about Christmas; surprisingly, 33% of Christmas No. 1s are actually about love

But there are numerous holiday-related songs to enjoy.

There’s Do They Know It’s Christmas? by Band Aid (released in 1984), which has gone on to sell over three million copies – more than any other Christmas single. 

There’s Last Christmas by Wham! (released in 1984), the best-selling UK single that actually never reached number one.

Fairytale of New York by The Pogues (recorded in 1987 and released in 1988), which reached the top 20 on 15 separate occasions since losing out to Always On My Mind by the Pet Shop Boys in 1987.

And there’s Cliff Richard’s festive-themed chart-topper Saviour’s Day (released in 1990).

Incidentally, more pop songs (30 chart-toppers) than any other genre scooped Christmas number one. In fact, Ariana Grande (4/9) is the current favorite in the online betting this year. So you may want to consider other genres, too.

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Rock songs account for 11 Christmas number ones, including Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, which took the title in 1975 and 1991 and is the UK’s third-best selling single of all time with 2.53 million sales.

Easy listening, with crooners claiming number one seven times between 1952 and 1976, the most recent of which being Johnny Mathis’ When A Child Is Born.

Choral songs, which are also chart-toppers, most recently A Bridge Over You by the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Choir in 2015.

Or you can even consider soul (with two chart-toppers), dance (also with two chart-toppers), instrumental, folk, disco and a cappella.

The point is, if it gets you in the groove, play it/listen to it. This way, you may finally ease into the holiday mode.

2.  Deck the halls… no, make that the whole house.

Put up the Christmas tree. If you manage to get a fresh one (by ditching the plastic trees), so much the better. Because once set up, staying near that tree, sniffing that pine aroma, is certainly going to pull some strings in you and make you feel… Christmassy.

Bring out those flickering lights, hang the parol (Christmas lantern), place that wreath up, ready the poinsettias, hang the stockings…
Photo by Markus Spiske from Unsplash.com

But don’t stop there: bring out those flickering lights, hang the parol (Christmas lantern), place that wreath up, ready the poinsettias, hang the stockings…

All these help make you anticipate that something special is bound to – and will – happen.

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3.  Watch some classics.

Particularly if you’re – say – Netflix- or HOOQ-crazy or is a couch potato, opt to watch some flicks that will remind you why this season is special.

If you’re not keen on a movie that is hard-selling Christmas, there are other holiday-linked films worth considering.
Photo by Sven Scheuermeier from Unsplash.com

Off the head, must-consider include: Meet Me in St. Louis (1944); It’s a Wonderful Life (1946); Miracle on 34th Street (1947); White Christmas (1954); Home Alone (1990); The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992); The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993); and Love Actually (2003).

If you’re not keen on a movie that is hard-selling Christmas, there are other holiday-linked films worth considering, including: Gremlins (1984); Die Hard (1988); The Family Stone (2005); Edward Scissorhands (1990); and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005).

4.  Join the parties.

There’s nothing wrong with flying solo; but the holiday season is really about togetherness. So try to get out of your shell and/or comfort zone and mingle. Consider this as an opportunity to party and not be judged for being overly festive (meaning, yes, you can drink and party all you want).

The holiday season is really about togetherness.
Photo by Mel Poole from Unsplash.com

5.  Share the spirit.

There are many who may not be as fortunate as you and be unable to celebrate the holidays – e.g. forgotten seniors in old-age homes, kids in orphanages, sick kids in – say – a cancer ward in some hospital, homeless families, et cetera.

As someone who may be in a better position, give some joy by reaching out to them. Maybe – just maybe – by seeing that you’re actually in a far, far better position than many others, you’d understand that there are actually things to be thankful for this season.

As someone who may be in a better position, give some joy by reaching out to them.
Photo by David Everett Strickler from Unsplash.com

So, yes, it’s that time of the year again when the holiday spirit is all around us. And I say: Why not make the most of it by enjoying it?

Health & Wellness

First case of sexually transmitted dengue confirmed in Spain

Health authorities confirmed a case of a man spreading dengue through sex. This is a world first for a virus which – until recently – was largely thought to be transmitted only by mosquitos.

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Photo by Егор Камелев from Unsplash.com

No, getting bitten by mosquitos isn’t the only way you can get dengue.

In Spain, health authorities confirmed a case of a man spreading dengue through sex. This is a world first for a virus which – until recently – was largely thought to be transmitted only by mosquitos.

The case involves a 41-year-old man from Madrid who contracted dengue after having sex with his male partner, who got the virus from a mosquito bite during a trip to Cuba and the Dominican Republic.

When the man’s dengue infection was confirmed in September, it puzzled doctors because he had not traveled to a country where the disease is common. An analysis of the sperm of the two men was carried out and it revealed that not only did they have dengue, but that it was exactly the same virus which circulates in Cuba.

Dengue is transmitted mainly by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, which grows in number in densely-populated tropical climates, such as the Philippines.

Though it kills 10,000 people a year and infects over 100 million, the disease is fatal only in extreme cases, though symptoms are extremely unpleasant, including high fever, severe headaches and vomiting. It is particularly serious – and deadly – in children.

In the Philippines, the Department of Health reported a total of 271,480 dengue cases from January to August 31 this year, prompting it to declare a national dengue epidemic. As of end-August, an estimated 1,107 people have died of dengue in the country.

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Gay in space in Disney’s ‘Star Wars Resistance’ kids’ show

This isn’t the first time an animated series highlighted LGBTQIA people/relationships; arguably even more progressive than mainstream Hollywood fare.

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Viewers sort of knew it all along, and then Disney confirmed that two characters on its “Star War Resistance” animated series for children are indeed a “gay couple.” 

On the Coffee with Kenobi podcast, Disney executive producers Brandon Auman, Athena Portillo, and Justin Ridge said that they are “proud” that two characters, Orka and Flix, are a “gay couple.” 

When Ridge was asked about the link between the two characters, he said: “I think it’s safe to say they’re an item… They’re absolutely a gay couple and we’re proud of that.” 

Orka is voiced by Jim Rash, while Flix is voiced by Bobby Moynihan.

Moynihan said later on the same podcast that he was glad to speak openly about Orka’s tendencies. 

“I have had a sentence prepared for a year and a half,” he said. “If someone would finally ask me, I would say, ‘All I can say is that when Flix says I love you, Orka says I know.’ … They’re the cutest.”

Orka and Flix are non-human, but fans assumed that they are homosexual. In an episode titled Dangerous Business, in the first season of “Star Wars Resistance“, there was a moment perceived to reveal the pair’s proclivities. 

The show is now in its second and final season on October 6, after getting nominated for an Emmy last year for outstanding children’s program.

This isn’t the first time an animated series highlighted LGBTQIA people/relationships; arguably even more progressive than mainstream Hollywood fare.

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In August, the new Aquaman, Kaldur, in the animated “Young Justice: Outsiders”, DC Universe’s animated show about teenage superheroes, was revealed to be LGBTQIA.

And in 2018, “Steven Universe”, a series from Cartoon Network, showcased a lesbian marriage proposal between two out queer characters in a special July 4 episode.

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Travel

Surrounded by art

Heading to Niagara Falls in NY in the US? The waterfalls may be the main attraction;buut there’s more to see in Niagara Falls than the body of water. Go IG crazy with a quick visit at Art Alley NF.

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When heading to Niagara Falls in the state of New York in the US, the three waterfalls at the southern end of Niagara Gorge (between the Ontario, Canada and, yes, the US state of New York) may be the main attraction. This isn’t exactly surprising; heck, everyone who saw 1980’s Superman (before he got grumpy and too dark – even if he stayed yummy – with DC’s re-imagining of the alien boy scout) will want to see the… grandeur of the location. For that matter, Hollywood has repeatedly “told” us (via the likes of 2003’s Bruce Almighty, 2014’s Tammy, 2016’s After the Sun Fell, and 2016’s The American Side) that it’s a must-visit.

When you get there, though, it is but… a body of water.

Sure, it is grand. Perhaps made even grander by the power of illumination, with the waterfalls enveloped in various colors when the sun sets. But truth be told, there’s more to see in Niagara Falls than just the body of water.

Case in point: Art Alley NF.

Located a few minutes from Niagara Falls State Park, Art Alley NF is a public mural project located at 425 Third Street in Niagara Falls, NY.

Credit for its development goes to Seth Piccirillo, the city’s community development director, and Rob Lynch, one of Niagara Falls High School’s art teachers. The two established the roadside inlet in 2016 to house 19 murals from local artists.

Think of San Francisco’s Clarion Alley, and you’d get the idea of what this is. Sans the angst, political activism, et cetera…

The location used to be a vacant lot blocked by a wall. It was blasted down by the city’s Department of Community Development to make way for a walkway lined with the murals.

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Street art enthusiasts ought to like this; or at least IG aficionados.

Though I say that again, when in Niagara Falls, NY in the US, don’t just stick to the body of water (you can check this in a just a day); instead, be surrounded by art with a quick visit to Art Alley NF.

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Health & Wellness

Improved support after self-harm needed to reduce suicide risk

To reduce the high risk of suicide after hospital attendance for self-harm, improved clinical management is needed for all patients – including comprehensive assessment of the patients’ mental state, needs, and risks, as well as implementation of risk reduction strategies, including safety planning.

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Risk of suicide following hospital presentation for self-harm is very high immediately following hospital discharge, emphasising the need for provision of early follow-up care and attention to risk reduction strategies

To reduce the high risk of suicide after hospital attendance for self-harm, improved clinical management is needed for all patients – including comprehensive assessment of the patients’ mental state, needs, and risks, as well as implementation of risk reduction strategies, including safety planning.

The results are from an observational study spanning 16 years and including almost 50,000 people from five English hospitals, published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal.

“The peak in risk of suicide which follows immediately after discharge from hospital underscores the need for provision of early and effective follow-up care. Presentation to hospital for self-harm offers an opportunity for intervention, yet people in are often discharged from hospital having not received a formal assessment of their problems and needs, and without specific aftercare arrangements. As specified in national guidance, a comprehensive assessment of the patients’ mental state, needs, and risks is essential to devise an effective plan for their follow-up care,” says study author Dr. Galit Geulayov, Centre for Suicide Research, Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, UK.

It has been estimated that every year there are approximately 200,000 presentations to emergency departments in hospitals across England following acts of non-fatal self-harm. Self-harm is associated with increased mortality, especially by suicide. Approximately 50% of individuals who die by suicide have a history of self-harm, with hospital presentation for self-harm often occurring shortly before suicide.

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The new study compared the risk of suicide following hospital presentation for self-harm according to patient characteristics, method of self-harm, and socioeconomic deprivation. It also estimated the incidence of suicide by time after hospital attendance, adjusting for gender, age, previous self-harm, and psychiatric treatment.

The study included 49,783 people aged over 15 years who presented to hospital after non-fatal self-harm a total of 90,614 times between 2000-2013. The authors followed these patients for 16 years (until the end of 2015), and the study included five hospitals (one in Oxford, three in Manchester and one in Derby).

Within the 16 year follow up, 703 out of 49,783 people died by suicide – with the incidence of suicide being 163 per 100,000 people per year.

Around a third of these deaths occurred within a year of the patient attending hospital for non-fatal self-harm (36%, 252/703 deaths), and the study confirmed the high risk of suicide in the first year after presentation to hospital for self-harm (the incidence of suicide in the year following discharge from hospital was 511 suicides per 100,000 people per year – 55.5 times higher than that of the general population).

The authors found that risk was particularly elevated in the first month (the incidence of suicide in the month following discharge from hospital was 1,787 per 100,000 people per year – close to 200 times higher than in the general population) – with 74 out of 703 people in the study dying by suicide within a month.

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The authors note that men were more likely to die by suicide following hospital presentation of self-harm than women, people who attended hospital more than once for non-fatal self-harm were more likely to die by suicide than those with a single presentation, and age was associated with risk (with risk increasing 3% with each year of age).

In addition, those who lived in less deprived areas had a higher risk of death by suicide than those who lived in the most deprived areas, but this contrasts with a large body of evidence and might be explained by higher rates of psychiatric disorders in this group in this study – more research is needed. The authors also note that some forms of self-harm were more strongly linked to subsequent suicide, but advise against including detail of this kind in media reporting.

Suicide is a big issue in the LGBTQIA community. In 2018, for instance, a study found that a total of 37% of trans respondents reported having seriously considered suicide during the past 12 months and 32% had ever attempted a suicide. Offensive treatment during the past three months and lifetime exposure to trans-related violence were significantly associated with suicidality.

A study published in LGBT Health in 2016, meanwhile, emphasized the importance of strengthening family support and acceptance as part of a positive intervention.

The authors of this newer study note that holistic assessment of risk factors is required, and warn that no single characteristic will help predict later suicide.

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“While awareness of characteristics which increase the risk of subsequent suicide can assist as part of this assessment, previous studies indicate that individual factors related to self-harm are a poor means to evaluate the risk of future suicide. These factors need to be considered together, followed by risk reduction strategies, including safety planning, for all patients,” says Professor Hawton, Centre for Suicide Research, Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, UK.

The authors note that their study focuses on three cities in England and the findings may not necessarily apply to the whole of the country.

Writing in a linked comment, Dr. Annette Erlangsen, Danish Research Institute for Suicide Prevention, Denmark, notes that there is a range of treatment options available following presentation of self-harm in emergency departments (including referrals to psychiatric wards after psychosocial assessments, outpatient treatment for patients not under immediate risk of self-harming, and – in some countries – specialized suicide prevention clinics) but many countries send patients home with a referral to their GP or do not refer at all.

She says: “The bottom line is–while the body of evidence of effective intervention is growing, we need to help people who present with self-harm. Operating in such a scenario is challenging but the numbers are clear; we need to ensure that patients receive support immediately when presenting and implement a continuation of care after discharge.”

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Health & Wellness

Trouble sleeping? Insomnia symptoms linked to increased risk of stroke, heart attack

The results suggest that if we can target people who are having trouble sleeping with behavioral therapies, it’s possible that we could reduce the number of cases of stroke, heart attack and other diseases later down the line.

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People who have trouble sleeping may be more likely to have a stroke, heart attack or other cerebrovascular or cardiovascular diseases, according to a study published in the November 6, 2019, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

“These results suggest that if we can target people who are having trouble sleeping with behavioral therapies, it’s possible that we could reduce the number of cases of stroke, heart attack and other diseases later down the line,” said study author Liming Li, MD, of Peking University in Beijing, China.

The study involved 487,200 people in China with an average age of 51. Participants had no history of stroke or heart disease at the beginning of the study.

Participants were asked if they had any of three symptoms of insomnia at least three days per week: trouble falling asleep or staying asleep; waking up too early in the morning; or trouble staying focused during the day due to poor sleep. A total of 11 percent of the people had difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep; 10 percent reported waking up too early; and 2 percent had trouble staying focused during the day due to poor sleep. The researchers did not determine if the people met the full definition of insomnia.

The people were then followed for an average of about 10 years. During that time, there were 130,032 cases of stroke, heart attack and other similar diseases.

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People who had all three symptoms of insomnia were 18 percent more likely to develop these diseases than people who did not have any symptoms. The researchers adjusted for other factors that could affect the risk of stroke or heart disease including alcohol use, smoking, and level of physical activity.

People who had trouble falling asleep or staying asleep were 9 percent more likely to develop stroke or heart disease than people who did not have this trouble. Of the 55,127 people who had this symptom, 17,650, or 32 percent, had a stroke or heart disease, compared to 112,382, or 26 percent, of the 432,073 people who did not have this symptom of insomnia.

People who woke up too early in the morning and could not get back to sleep were 7 percent more likely to develop these diseases than people who did not have that problem. And people who reported that they had trouble staying focused during the day due to poor sleep were 13 percent more likely to develop these diseases than people who did not have that symptom.

“The link between insomnia symptoms and these diseases was even stronger in younger adults and people who did not have high blood pressure at the start of the study, so future research should look especially at early detection and interventions aimed at these groups,” Li said.

Li noted that the study does not show cause and effect between the insomnia symptoms and stroke and heart disease. It only shows an association.

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A limitation of the study was that people reported their own symptoms of insomnia, so the information may not have been accurate.

Also, the researchers did not ask participants about having sleep that was not refreshing; this is another common symptom of insomnia.

The question that needs to be asked: How is this relevant particularly to the LGBTQIA community?

Sleep may be fundamental to health, but a study found that lesbian, gay and bisexual adults reported more sleep problems than their heterosexual counterparts. This suggests that sleep difficulties may underlie a number of mental and physical health problems experienced by sexual minorities.

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

How to obtain a leadership role in law enforcement

There are steps you can take to obtain a leadership role in law enforcement and, in turn, find yourself soaring to new heights in your career. It’ll take hard work and dedication on your part to achieve the results you desire, but if you keep pushing forward and refuse to give up then you should feel confident that all your efforts will eventually pay off.

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Photo by skeeze from Pixabay.com

You may be enjoying your time as a police officer but a little part of you could be longing to get a bit more out of your career over the long-term. One way to do so is to show and demonstrate to your boss and colleagues that you’re a strong leader.

There are steps you can take to obtain a leadership role in law enforcement and, in turn, find yourself soaring to new heights in your career. It’ll take hard work and dedication on your part to achieve the results you desire, but if you keep pushing forward and refuse to give up then you should feel confident that all your efforts will eventually pay off. 

Get A Higher Education

One way to obtain a leadership role in law enforcement is to venture into higher education and gain a degree. Use your new knowledge to showcase reasons as to why you’re someone who should be promoted into a higher-level position and take on more responsibility. Look into registering for an online police program that will help you land a job such as being Chief of Police or a Detective. You’ll gain information in these courses that will be invaluable to your future and that will help you to progress into a better leader at work. You’ll find you have more confidence in yourself and your abilities when you further your education, which will allow you to step up and be a leader at work. 

Track Your Performance

You have to look out for yourself and know your worth in any profession. Therefore, make it clear to others what you’re capable of by tracking your performance and noting what you bring to the table. Doing so shows that you’re someone who’s able to take charge and take control of your career path. Bring your notes to your performance review meetings with your boss and go over exactly what actions you’ve taken over the years that clearly show you’re a leader in your industry. For instance, maybe you’re someone who’s good at delegating, is honest and ethical, and has the ability to motivate your peers. These are the types of actions your superiors want to know about and see from you. 

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Always be Networking

Another way to obtain a leadership role in law enforcement is to network with your peers and the people in your community. Take on additional responsibilities in conjunction with your job duties and use it as a way to meet new people and have others get to know you better. Let it be known to those above you that you’re interested in developing your skills further and ultimately being in a leadership role. Networking is a great way to strengthen your law enforcement connections, exchange fresh ideas, and advance your career. You never know who you’ll meet or have a conversation with who’ll recognize your talents and be able to help propel your career in the right direction. 

Monitor Your Wellbeing

You’re going to struggle to perform to the best of your ability if your health is suffering and you aren’t taking care of yourself. You’ll have a better chance at achieving a leadership role in law enforcement when you’re proactive about monitoring your wellbeing and practicing good health habits. For example, get plenty of sleep, eat well and exercise regularly so you feel energetic and are in a good mood at work. Your peers are going to look up to you and will want to work with someone who knows the importance of being well. It’s especially important that you’re in good health when working in law enforcement. You need to be in the best mental and physical condition possible so you can protect the community. 

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Prove Yourself Each Day

What you do each day matters a great deal when it comes to furthering and advancing your career in law enforcement. Show that you’re a strong leader by proving yourself each day to your colleagues and bosses. Leaders avoid complaining and are quick to find solutions to problems instead of being negative and pessimistic about a situation. Let each new day be a chance for you to improve your performance and outshine your colleagues. 

Focus on what you can do in your role and what you have control over to help you get ahead. Be a good leader by staying positive, open-minded and working hard to gain new skills. Become the expert others choose to turn to when they’re feeling lost or have questions. Let each new task be a chance for you to improve from the time prior and to demonstrate that you’re a quick and adaptable learner. 

Minimize Mistakes

The truth is that the more mistakes you make the more others are going to second guess your abilities. Therefore, work hard to minimize your mistakes at work if you want to obtain a leadership role in law enforcement. The best way to do this is to document what didn’t go well and how you’re going to change your approach in the future. This will prevent you from committing the same blunders or errors time and time again. If and when you do mess up, be honest about it and speak up so others know you’re taking full accountability for your actions. 

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Give your full attention to what you’re doing and avoid distractions at all costs to show you’re focused and serious about your career. Don’t be afraid to ask questions when you’re confused about a particular matter so that you can better perform your job duties. 

Conclusion

Being a police officer is a noble job and you should be proud of all that you’re doing for others and your community. Having the desire to be in a leadership role within law enforcement is a great goal to pursue. While challenging yourself can be hard work and a bit demanding at times, it’s also what’s going to make you shine and stand out from the rest. Put these tips into action and it shouldn’t be long before you’re getting the recognition you deserve at work and are able to successfully lead those around you.  

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