I have learned many things from what I would refer to as “mentors” during my many jobs and life in general.
My first real job was at a restaurant. I started at 16 and was promoted to night manager at 17 by the manager, Jose. To calm my concerns of unworthiness, Jose gave me this advice:
- If you are correct 51% of the time, you are right the majority of the time, and the more decisions you make the better you get at them. Never be afraid of making decisions.
- If you assume the leadership role, people will naturally follow.
I was a professional musician for three years. The leader of the band, Bill, gave me these bits of wisdom:
- If you can whistle in tune, you can sing in tune.
- Everybody that sings along to the radio is singing slightly out of tune, because if they were singing in tune, they would not hear themselves because of the harmonics of tone.
- Any band that has a female lead singer turns into her backup band.
- You never perfect a song in rehearsal, only through performance.
While working many jobs in retail, several wealthy people would say:
- What’s the difference between a retail establishment and a museum? There is nothing for sale in a museum. If you are not willing to beat your competitor with aggressive pricing, you have adopted a museum mentality.
- If an inventory item has not sold in six months, take it off your inventory.
- In retail, your obligation is to separate the customer from their money. Make money when you can, and a reduced price is better than a stick in the eye.
While in police work, fellow officers and supervisors gave me this life-saving advice:
- Before you enter a residence to search, always yell-out, “Police, police!” and never assume the occupants inside know you are the police and not an intruder.
- When facing an imminent threat of certain death, never hesitate to act due to the extreme possibility of criminal charges, loss of employment or personal property and the disintegration of your family. Better to be tried by 12 than carried by 6.
- Never relinquish control of the scene to another person unless they are more qualified than you. Not more educated, not more politically connected, not more financially superior … more qualified.
- Do not cry when you are shot. Don’t let common emotions prevent you from completing the mission. There will be plenty of time to cry when the job is done.
- Fear or respect = compliance. Lack of compliance moves directly to Plan B which is more painful and lethal than Plan A. Both plans are decided by the suspect based on their willingness to comply.
- Kindness = weakness on the street.
- Be good to the good people, bad to the bad people, and don’t play Billy Badass with everyone.
- Win every physical confrontation and every conversation. Failure to win is awarded the second-place trophy of death. Remember, you don’t need anyone’s permission to do your job.
And my life long advisor, Dad, gave me the following words to live by:
- Once a quitter, always a quitter. (I hated that one every football season.)
- If you loan people money, never expect to get it back.
Anything he did not know was because he "missed that day at school." I kid with him about missing so much school.
My own advice to anyone is:
- Always leave people owing you, not you owing them.
- Life is short. Finance your fun.
- Always assume the gun is loaded, it’s more likely incompetence than conspiracy, and all phone conversations are bugged.
W.J. Butcher is a Coweta County resident and retired 26-year veteran of the Atlanta Police Department. Send comments, kudos, and criticism to: email@example.com .