Beyond the Badge

Michael Laidler talks about how to achieve greatness beyond the badge.


Michael Laidler is an experienced law enforcement officer and a lieutenant with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, but when you meet him, he’s not LT or Lieutenant. He’s Michael Laidler, Lieutenant. Along the way, he has realized that it’s incredibly important to remind himself that law enforcement has a role in his life, but it is not his entire life. He believes that everyone in law enforcement needs to put themselves and then their families as a priority. He started speaking on this topic and wrote a book to help officers and others transform fatigue into fulfillment through greatness beyond the badge.

As a nine-year-old who watched the OJ Simpson trial, Michael Laidler decided he wanted to be a homicide detective. At 19, he was sponsored by an agency in Tallahassee, Florida, to start his law enforcement career. As he progressed in his career, Michael became a lieutenant and quickly realized that he needed to be a better communicator to be successful in his role while leading others. In February of 2016, he joined Toastmasters, which is a public speaking educational organization that gave him his start in public speaking, where he designed a presentation called The Invisible Law Enforcement Officer. This presentation eventually turned into Michael’s book, Greatness Beyond the Badge, where he discusses failure and teaches others how to transform fatigue into fulfillment and achieve greatness beyond the badge.

The Book

Michael wrote Greatness Beyond the Badge: The three key principles to Self-Awareness, because he wanted any law enforcement officer, family member, or anybody who supports law enforcement to realize that there’s something past and beyond the career. There are three critical principles of achieving greatness: Knowing yourself, Reducing dissonance, and The path to greatness.

Knowing yourself

We all fail every day at different things.  The key to understanding failure is self-awareness, defining who you are, and understanding that you can grow from failure. Without recognizing the failures in your past, you can’t define who you are. Failures happen, but there are lessons to learn, grow from, and move on. Michael discusses how the failures of his divorce and growing up without his father brought him to the mindset that failing his son was not an option.  

“Failing is a part of who we are, but it can’t be who we’re going to be.” 

Setting Goals

Part of moving past failure is establishing and setting SMART goals. They have to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound of something that you’re aiming for. Having specific goals helps push people past failures and motivates them to strive for something greater.

Selfie Mirror Method

To establish greatness beyond the badge, identify yourself as a person before you identify as your title. Using your title first lends to the belief that you are the organization and not a person. Use your name and say it out loud. Pull out your cell phone like you are taking a selfie, look at yourself, and say your name and then your title. Grow into the mindset that whether you retire, resign, or get fired.  You will leave your organization at some point.  Your occupation is what you do and not who you are.

Reducing dissonance

Michael states that we must reduce dissonance and create a harmonious balance between work and life. In the therapy room, cognitive dissonance is when we are being forced to do something against our beliefs, struggling between the two choices, and having to really push through to get to the task.  It’s the tension between two unsuitable choices.  We can get stuck here and have resentment.

Michael suggests that to reduce dissonance, you must change the priority.  Move from putting the organization first to yourself. We all know there will be situations which you cannot do this AND, you can be selfish.  Be selfish about your growth.  Build the foundation you need for yourself and your life.  Michael believes that if you’re not growing every day, spending time on yourself, doing self-care, or self-development, you’re not going to be able to be the best version of yourself.  He also believes that you will not be able to grow and lead others because you cannot lead somebody somewhere where you have not been.  This doesn’t mean that you don’t spend time with your family or you don’t go to work, but when it comes to shifting that priority, start with yourself, then your family, and your organization.

The path to greatness

The path to greatness uses the 24-hour formula, which is about time management. It’s about controlling your time and not letting it control you. It’s easy to get away from what we need to do daily for ourselves. Elon Musk, Tom Brady, and Dak Prescott with the Cowboys are all successful and they have not created more time in the day! They haven’t reinvented the wheel; they prioritize their time. If they have 24 hours a day and they’re highly successful in their profession, why can’t we use the same 24 hours and maximize life? Plan out your day, hour by hour, in 60-minute increments. Be intentional about how you plan your time, and try to allot 10% of the day to be focused on self-development. If 10% of your day isn’t available for intentional learning, start somewhere, even if it is as little as five minutes.

Greatness beyond the badge is about understanding that there is greatness in the career but also outside of whatever uniform, badge, or connection to the job you have.  Be intentional and purposeful with your time and focus 10% of your day on self-growth. At the end of the day, you have to be there for yourself, your family, and then the organization. Your organization will run without you, but your family are the ones who are counting on you to be the best version of yourself. Achieve greatness beyond the badge.

Michael Laidler is a former police officer and border patrol agent. He’s currently employed with the Federal Prison and has worked in multiple specialized units, including canine. He is a professional speaker and author of Beyond the Badge.

[email protected] Greatness Beyond the Badge: The Three Key Principles for Self-Awareness eBook : Laidler, Michael: Kindle Store


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Beyond the Badge

Michael Laidler talks about how to achieve greatness beyond the badge.