Plan, Achieve, and Succeed
Wednesday, February 1, 2023
by: Darren Sieger, MS, CJM

Section: President's Commentary

In the last edition of the American Jails Magazine, I challenged you to take a self-inventory and consider where do you want to be in five years. The focus was on you and the steps required to accomplish your professional goals. Additionally, the narrative was directed at your organizational leadership and the critical responsibility they hold in supporting an environment of proficiency enhancement, leadership development, and team building. Often, your career goals are attained through participation in these activities and demonstration of positive results. Though you would think this should be enough, positive growth usually includes one or several mentors who pass on their wisdom and knowledge through their actions, talks, and sharing of mistakes. Hold on, you’re not there yet! The organization will also demand a tremendous amount of dedication, loyalty, hard work, and your time. Regardless of your aspirations, the pathway will be difficult and equally rewarding.

You are in a people business and how we treat ourselves, each other, and the detainees will be a significant part of your legacy. Keep in mind the golden rules; be your best, do the right thing, and treat others how you want 
to be treated. Include into the equation the qualities of ambition, commitment, and strong work ethic and you will propel to the top of the list. All elements are required for success.

An area our industry is focusing a significant amount of attention and resources is employee wellness. Agencies have realized the key to hire and retain staff must include programs and benefits which take care of you and your family. I strongly encourage you to take advantage of what your department provides, including nutrition programs, group and individual exercise initiatives, and emotional well-being offerings. While you dedicate your time and energy to accomplishing your professional goals, don’t forget your family and self-care.

The next question is, how will you successfully balance your personal life and career? Historically, this is not taught, you just figure it out. Failure to stay cognitively aware of the work-life balance can have devastating consequences. Developing boundaries will help you maintain your employment, family, and emotional health. Equally important is the willingness to seek help when you are in distress. For a variety of reasons, those in our profession tend to overlook mental health and substance abuse resources. This is a big mistake. We are all human and need help at some point in our lives. Please seek out professional assistance if you are in crisis or reach out to your support system. There are confidential resources available to you.

This is a very honorable profession which can be extremely rewarding. The choice is yours to decide your career path; select wisely. Accept all training opportunities to develop your skills and proficiency. Actively seek additional responsibilities to assist your supervisor and team. Proactively register for leadership and certification programs offered within your department and those by national professional organizations such as the American Jail Association. Seize promotional processes when they arise. Follow the golden rules when on and off duty. Develop a strong support system, remain self-aware of your emotion health, and employ a positive work-family balance. Your family, organization, and I believe in you! Believe in yourself and know that anything is possible if you commit to it.

Wishing you the best in all your endeavors. Be safe!

AJA President
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