Webinar presenter Sara Weston answered a number of your questions after her webinar, The Power of Your Passion: Lessons for Dispatch and Criminal Justice Professionals. Here are just a few of her responses.
Audience Question: Is it possible to lose passion once the challenge is gone from a job and how do I regain it?
Sara Weston: Yes, that happens. It happens a lot. Actually, that’s the main reason that we lose passion. And it really depends on where you’re at with your job. So, I’ll talk about a couple of things. One is taking on a new project within that job if that’s possible for you. So, what I did is looked into starting that Facebook group. I was like, oh, let me examine something that’s important to me, that’s related to this job, and go for it and see where that takes me. So, if you can look at your job. And is there anything in it that youth think could be done better? Even if you know the challenge isn’t there anymore? Can you create a challenge for yourself? Is there a deficiency somewhere that you think you can help? Is there mentorship? I know in 911 mentorship is a difficult thing to come by because centers are so small, and you have to kind of be connected to people outside of your center for mentorship. So, you can get a mentor or a mentee. Sometimes, I hate to tell you to quit your job. Looking around at other jobs will either, spark something else in you and maybe it’s time to move on. Or you might get out there and be like, “Oh, I really do like it. The things that I thought weren’t challenging, maybe I can re-arrange. Maybe I can cross-train, pick up other duties, volunteer.” That kind of stuff. I know it’s just hard, and a lot of times you can go find some new training. So, say you want to learn a new skill related to your job that maybe is challenging. There is a ton of free and low-cost training on the internet. Whatever your interests may be, even if it doesn’t have anything to do with your job. It might spark something that leads you down a new path slowly, but surely. I think they call that quiet quitting nowadays. But looking around, getting yourself trained in something new, or maybe you can go to your employer, and talk to them. I mean, that’s not always an option. I understand that. But it is your supervisor, your boss, somebody that you can say, “Hey, I lost my spark. It’s not really challenging for me. Like, can we come up with something together that I can do?” I think just realizing that you’re not being challenged and that you don’t like, it is step one. And there are options out there that you can take. I hope that gave you some ideas. But I think the hard part is, it’s really up to you, it’s really up to you to figure out where you are, how you’re feeling, and figure something out for yourself. Really do that, an examination, and go find the resources that you need. I started with Googling how to start a non-profit. I’m not even kidding. But it led me down the right path. So, taking that first small step into the next challenging thing.
Audience Question: What did you do to overcome the fear and the unknowns when pursuing your passion?
Sara Weston: So, it’s very scary, to the point where there are some tears, and some deep thoughts. But really, what I did was find that small group, that support system. It was so vital. That group I talked about when I said yes to lunch. And I said yes to the leadership retreat. That, for me, was the best thing I could do because they held me accountable. Right? I think, a lot of times, we get scared, we back down, like, “Oh, I can’t do it, I’ll back down.” They wouldn’t let me, I mean, they didn’t physically force me to do it. But they reminded me of my why. They reminded me, like “Remember Sara, you said this. And now you’re going back, and we just want to see you thrive.” So, finding an accountability partner, I guess you could say mine was a group, is extremely helpful. Somebody who will push you and then also break you down into just the smallest steps possible. Because I think we do that, you kind of dip your toe and you’re like, “Oh, that wasn’t so bad. I’ll do the next scary thing, and I’ll do the next scary thing.” And at this point, I’ve done so many scary things that I still get scared all the time. But I know I can do them, right? So, like at this point, I don’t even know what you could tell me that I wouldn’t at least try, you know? So, it takes practice, and that mental strength of, “I’m going to feel this fear, and I’m going to do it anyway.” You’re never not going to be scared, but the fear isn’t there to stop you. The fear is telling you something. the fear is telling you, like, “Oh, I’m doing something new.” So, I kind of retrained my brain that fear isn’t something to be avoided, it’s something to be sought out. And it’s hard, but we can do hard things.
Host: Sarah, you know, I just wanted to second what you said. When I started a Justice Clearinghouse a little over eight years ago. I got to tell you, I found the most important thing is to just get started, is just to do it. Yeah. Our first webinar had three whole attendees. We figured out the mistakes, and it took a little bit of time and a lot of humility, but yeah, we eventually found our groove, and I’m so thankful obviously for that, we accomplish that, and it was because the speakers, like you and our audience.
Sara Weston: Wouldn’t you agree? You have to be bad at something first.
Host: And I’m bad at a lot of things when I first start out.
Sara Weston: Like if you went back and watch some of my first webinars or my first video, you’d be like, well, what is happening with this person?
Audience Question: I’ve always described working in public safety communications like this. You read the first chapter of a book, dozens, or even hundreds of times a day. I found that once I explained to my leadership team that I needed closure for some of these calls that my passion returned, it was the not knowing what happened that was fighting against me. Love your thoughts on that.
Sara Weston: Yeah. Oh my gosh, so, so good. Actually, have a virtual workshop coming up where one of the speakers is talking about just that, the closure conundrum, it’s what it’s called. That is a legit like a mental health detriment is the lack of closure that you all experience, especially in 911 because a lot of times police fire EMS they don’t know how it ends, right? So, that is something that psychologists are starting to study in 911 as a matter of fact, because it can be so damaging. Our brains most often fill in the worst-case scenario, right? So, you get a call and you’re just going to assume “That person didn’t make it,“ or “I could have done something better.” I think that’s a big thing too. I could have done something better when you don’t even know, you don’t even know what happened. An example of that is there are some 911 centers right now that have video capabilities. And one piece of feedback we got is, there was a house fire, and the family passed away and the dispatcher was able to see that when the call came in, that house was gone. Like, it was up in flames, and it wasn’t anything that she did or didn’t do that led back to that outcome. So, I think there are tools coming, help coming on the way for that kind of thing. But if you can be involved in the debriefing, so this goes for all of you, if you’re police and fire, and you have these debriefing meetings, invite your dispatchers. You just have no idea the weight that can take. Even if it wasn’t a good outcome which a lot of debriefs have. But just talking it through and allowing them to process it like, “Did I do something wrong?” Or “Did I do everything okay and this is just what happened.” Being vocal about that if you’re a dispatcher and advocating for yourself is so important. Nobody knows what that’s like except for you. People may not even understand that it’s a thing if you don’t speak up. So, I’m really proud of you for speaking up. A lot of times leadership hasn’t answered 911 calls depending on your center and how it’s structured. So, I really, really would encourage everyone to speak up, because one thing that happens, like, in our Facebook group, someone will make a comment like that, right? Like, oh, I know what you just said, and then there’ll be 50 comments. Oh, me too, me too, I go through that too. I go back to, what did you do? What did you do? So, speaking up, not only helps you, but it’s going to help the people around you. So, yeah, keep going with that. And you’re not alone. I’m validating you and telling you you’re not alone.