A young recruit and an aging dame were once marching cadence.
I've been an adjunct instructor at a DPS training academy for more years than I care to see in print. Because I train on the legal subjects rather than mats and bats I used to think it would serve my purposes in class to prove myself outside of class.
Accordingly, I'd drag my "seasoned" body out of bed at zero dark thirty and join a much younger group of recruits on their physical training run. Then I'd spend the day helping them discover the not-so-bright lines of the law that govern their conduct about which the Supreme Court often disagrees 5 to 4.
Years ago, on two such runs, cadence was lead by a young, all bone-muscle-and-sinew, ex-Army Ranger.
Cadence has a two-fold purpose.
- It is designed in its physical incantation to regulate the respiration of hearts and lungs in rigorous exercise.
- And in its message part, to ignite teamwork and camaraderie.
Before I share the ex-Army Ranger's cadence,
WARNING: The following contains adult themes of sex and violence.
For two mornings I ran and sounded off after the ex-Army Ranger recruit:
When the girls want excitement and danger,
Dream all night of sex with a Ranger.
A Ranger's what Granny wanted to be,
But you can't be a Ranger if you squat when you pee.
If I die in guts and blood,
Bury me with a six pack of Bud.
Tell my son I did my best,
Pin my Ranger wings on his chest.
Mysteriously, I of the Granny and girl-dreaming-of-sex-with-a-Ranger gender was uninfused with team spirit. As was every female recruit both of them. But I was lit up with thinking.
I could have gotten my shorts in a twist, taken offense, even made some kind of complaint. Instead, I decided to do two things:
- I gave that young ex-Army Ranger who had put his life on the line for me and my freedom the benefit of the doubt.
- I asked, "What's the lesson here for me?"
The lessons in leadership
I decided the lesson was to figure out how to connect with those recruits in a way that didn't alienate them but instead opened their hearts and minds to some new visions of teamwork and camaraderie. Ulysses S. Grant said,
"Leading is easy; persuading others to follow is the hard part."
I wanted enthusiastic, committed followers. (Note for what follows: I let the recruits know my first day of instruction that I was a Marine Corps brat. Thereafter, it was "ooo-rah" versus "hoo-ah.")
The third morning I stepped out of formation.
"Sir, permission to lead cadence, Sir."
"Granted," the Corporal replied.
As we started off double-time, I called out,
I'm an Amazon with wild cat blood,
I nursed on whiskey you can keep your Bud.
My sex drive is rollin' thunder,
I don't peak at nineteen and then go under.
When I was a girl my Granny told me,
Girl ain't nothin' you can't be.
I'm not the fastest I'm not the strongest.
Heart determines who lasts the longest.
I got a heart as big as outdoors,
Take what Sarge dishes out and ask for more.
I got a heart that knows no end,
Call on me when you need a friend.
I may need you to get over the wall,
'Cuz it's all for one and one for all.
We're all on the hero's quest,
Gonna help each other be our best.
As the last male voice died, I waited in a silence punctured only by heavy footfalls and heavier breathing. Then there rose a deep bass, testosterone-laced, forty voiced reply, "Ooo-rah! Ma'am. Ooo-rah!" And I rejoiced lifted by an esprit de corps.
Every man, and woman, can lead
The next day one of the female recruits gave me a cadence she'd written to honor her Mom, a police officer. The team sounded off loudly and proudly. The voices rang as one.
I don't run at 0430 with the recruits anymore. Having gone from "seasoned" to "mature," I no longer feel the need to prove myself to a bunch of youngsters who "make way" for me and do a push up for every second they're late to my class.
But the lessons that ex-Army Ranger taught me live on:
- Give people the benefit of the doubt. Don't be quick to assume the worst. Don't join The Society of the Perpetually Offended. They've got enough members.
- When you're faced with a challenge, don't ask, "Why me?" That won't get you any useful answers. Instead, ask, "What's the lesson here for me? That can lead to all kinds of useful information.
One more lesson
If you're in a position of trying to persuade recruits and officers to follow, write them a cadence. Invite them to write their own. Then sound off. Creating something new that gets shared by the group, being part of the creation and the experience of sharing it both can ignite an esprit de corps.
Share your cadences
Each branch of the United States Armed Forces has a long history of cadences. Try finding a single one on the internet specific to policing. I couldn't. But when I searched, I found a lot of officers are looking for cadences that speak to the hearts, minds and bodies of our nation's law enforcement warriors. Law enforcement officers are the peacemakers here at home.
SO IT'S TIME TO "SOUND OFF." Reach down into your heart, mind and body and send me some cop cadences. Post them here, or send them to me at email@example.com. Better yet, send me a video of you, or a group of recruits or cops, doing the cadence.
This could be BIG, folks. I see in our future:
- An American Cop Idol Cadence Contest where contestants take no attitude from Simon Cowell.
- A recording contract with a full orchestra and backup dancers.
- Letterman and the Top Ten Cop Cadences.
- An invitation to perform at the White House.
And BIGGER I see a chance for us to experience and share the unique esprit de corps of the brothers and sisters of the shield. It's your time to inspire.