When you can tap into your purpose, you will find that you can do just about anything and change anything. You will find your voice and find your place in your center. That is the point when 911 is no longer just a job or career to you, it is your calling and your purpose! Finding your place in your center and taking ownership of your organization’s culture can begin with you calling for ways to improve morale, or proposing initiatives to recognize your team members more, or implementing team-building activities, or creating ways to help newer employees feel a stronger sense of belonging. Championing for better training in your agency can look like pushing for more opportunities for employees to attend conferences and workshops or lobbying to bring in guest instructors or host trainings or leading the charge in writing lesson plans or creating in-house courses. Leadership can happen informally and at any level or rank too. It can mean advocating for the needs of your shift to the supervisors or admin, or laying the groundwork for a peer support team, or coordinating a health and wellness committee at your center. Personally, I made the choice a few years ago to tap into my purpose and my passion to start using my talents for good. I was going to prove my worthiness and my value to myself by demonstrating what I had to offer to this industry.
Stepping Into the Public Eye
I began seeking out opportunities to strengthen myself as a trainer and further develop my confidence in instructing and public speaking. I created an hour-long lesson plan and PowerPoint for my first-ever presentation. I pitched my presentation to a “Call for Papers” for a popular virtual conference for 911 telecommunicators and was beyond pleased to be accepted. That conference was “Dare to Be Great 3” (hosted and produced by Within The Trenches founder Ricardo Martinez) and my original presentation was, “10 Things Your 911 Caller Wishes You Understood.” I began writing guest blogs on important topics that were relevant to our industry, such as overcoming bias in the workplace, enhancing your customer service skills with callers, and reclaiming your joy and passion in 911. I sought out opportunities to speak on these same topics on many podcasts as well and I accepted invitations to appear as part of other virtual and in-person conferences (regionally and nationally). At my center, I participated in more community events and assisted on Any chance I had to have a recruit sit and observe with me on the floor, I took it. I also decided that rather than wait for anyone to invest in my professional growth, I would take steps towards investing in my own development through training. Over the year that followed, I applied for continuing education scholarships to gain new certifications, attend conferences, and enroll in courses to advance my telecommunications skills. Education that I could bring back to my agency and apply towards bettering myself for the citizens I serve as well as for the staff I serve alongside of.
Invest in Yourself
CTO positions ultimately did open again and this time I arrived at my interview confident in my skills and assured of what I brought to the table. They say that you should dress for the job you want. Well, consider this: sometimes before you ever get a position, a title, or a seat at the table, you need to project the right image for the job or role that you want. If you know your purpose, live your purpose! Create your own opportunities and build your own doors to walk through. You are the best investment you will ever make and the secret to building your brand is to bet on yourself, always. You will be amazed by what happens when you reframe your attitude to one of proactiveness in writing your own destiny and paving your path to greatness. Do you see yourself as a trainer or instructor? Then how are you turning even the smallest opportunities into teaching moments? Are you volunteering to offer mentorship to new trainees and recruits, or how are you contributing to making the work environment a more welcoming and hospitable one for recruits? Do you ever create quizzes for trainees or develop helpful training aids for them to help guide them in this new career? Do you see yourself as a supervisor, operations manager, or future Director? How are you demonstrating right now that you can manage yourself and effectively coordinate your own professional development before you even begin to strive for a position in managing others and overseeing their career development? How are you showing your capacity to lead and influence others right now, as a call taker, dispatcher, or CTO, regardless of your years of experience?
Believe in Yourself
No one owes it to you to just hand you a position or a title if you do not believe in yourself enough to work for what you want. The title may come after all, but you owe it to yourself to give yourself every chance to succeed and thrive with or without a title. In the end, I enjoyed proving that I was a capable trainer and instructor and building on my job knowledge, and I stopped working to earn a title and started working to prove something to myself. I believe that we all bear a little light within ourselves, and in the right environments, and around the right people, that light will burn its absolute brightest. Harnessing the power of knowing your purpose and turning your passion into tangible work ethic is a far bigger feat than simply earning a neat title below your name. It is finding the right rooms to fill with your light because it is is never too small to make a difference. So, stop wishing and hoping and wondering about all that you could do if you only were in this position or that position….and do something about your work environment and the culture now with what you have and where you are. You are more than any position, just like you are more than just a body filling a seat and holding up a headset, you are truly what makes or breaks your 911 center. Let your light shine!