Identity: The Choice of What to Be & See

 The Calm Before the Storm at the 2016 Michigan Dept. of Corrections Annual Conference

Who will you choose to be? 

What will you choose to see? 

These are the questions that I asked the directors, wardens and other leaders at the 2016 Michigan Department of Corrections Annual Conference.

Will we choose the path of being an Ethical Protector? Are we clear on where our "Moral Compass" points? Can we see the Life Value inside of each person we meet, beyond their behaviors, relative beliefs and values? We are all protectors, we just have to make sure we are protecting the right things! ISIS, drug dealers and other criminals are protecting something too. It's just the wrong things! 

The picture at the top of this page is of the empty conference room before everyone arrived earlier today. There where just under 300 leaders from the Michigan Dept. of Corrections met from all over the upper and lower peninsula of the state. They get together every year at this annual conference to discuss the newest training, to recognize top performers, to reconnect, bond and exchange best practices in the field.

I was privileged to be brought in to be their keynote speaker kicking off their 3 day event. Given the opportunity, I laid it on the line, opened myself up and spoke from my heart regarding my solo work as well as my work with Resolution Group International (RGI) and our work out on the East Coast specifically with Camden County PD.

I began my 1 1/2 hour presentation (yep, you read that right, I had the stage for an hour and a half, not like these Ted Talk sissies who only talk for 18 minutes! ;-] ) by telling the story of my brother and I. I'll be honest, I still feel apprehensive telling that story because how personal it is to me.  However, I tell it because I think it is important to share my history of where it began for me regarding being a protector. I'll admit, replaying the details of that day as a kid standing up to my brother is a raw vulnerable experience for me. I find it a bit embarrassing still. I want it to be a much more heroic story like being courageous in a war, or overcoming a terrible disease or heroically saving someone in the face of danger, but it isn't any of that, it is just about a boy standing up to his older brother. Regardless, it's my story and the reason why I do what I do. 

I go on to tell Robert Humphrey's tale of human equality in his Hunting Story and show a short video clip of how a correctional officer from one of the most dangerous prisons in the world (South Africa's Pollsmoore Prison) applies this Ethical Protector concept in what he calls "dynamic safety." He finds the power of relationships and separating inmates Life Value from their behavior to make him more successful and gives him a better life. 

I illustrated that we are human beings so, we needed an integrated approach to training and strategy when it came to conflict management and leadership. A model that included ethical clarity, verbal communications, and physical skills. I went on to demonstrate the idea of "tactical space" both physically and verbally and how it can be used to optimize performance during a situation. 

After the physical demo, I describe what was going on in Camden County Police Department and how RGI trained their officers and mentors to help them develop a clearer ethical protector culture. 

Finally, I finished my presentation with a personal story of my friend Mike Benson and his incredible journey of overcoming adversity and becoming More Than a Conqueror

In the hour and a half presentation I tied in the themes of:

We are all protectors... Make sure we are protecting the right things.
See Conflict as an Opportunity
Embracing the Universal Life Value
Working Toward Most Good / Least Harm
Lead Through Inspiration

Of course I concluded my time with Robert Humphrey's Warrior Creed:

Where ever I go everyone is a little safer because I am there.
Where ever I am anyone in need has a friend.
When ever I return home everyone is happy that I am there.

~It's a better life.

Thank you, MDOC, it was my pleasure to speak at your 2016 conference. I hope that some seeds were planted and my intentions were well received. 

All the best,


  1. Are you willing to share your interpretation of how they reacted to the "Ethical Protector" concept? Were they receptive or offer good discussion? thanks.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Thanks for your comment Josh. I have only receive a little feedback so far. My contact is supposed to be getting me the surveys. He did say that he had two supervisors approach him and tell him that they thought my presentation was awesome.

      I had a half dozen or so attendees pull me aside after my presentation at the event to tell me that although my presentation wasn't what they were expecting, they were inspired by it.

      Sometimes the seeds that are planted take a little time to grow. 4 years ago I spoke at the Job Corps National Safety Conference; one of the facility directors who heard me just hired me to work with his facility this month. So, it took them 4 years to decide to learn more on how to apply the perspective.

      Caledonia Public School administrator took one of my courses, 3 years later he referred one of his teachers to hire me for a week long leadership/conflict management course for their students.

      It's different for everyone, not everyone "gets it" or agrees with the perspective. You can't sell it, I can only be authentic and inspire those who are in a place to hear what is being said regarding: Clarifying the Life Value and developing the skills and confidence to adapt those tools to your life and career.

      Thanks again for your comment!

      All the best,


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Are people from Crete Creteans??

What's Your Rosebud?

Attracting An Assault?!