Check Your Lens

Posted on October 6, 2023

A hand holds a pair of sunglasses with heart-shaped lenses up on a beach to show a sunset through the lenses.

Today’s Morning Buzz is brought to you by Cassie Johnson, Police Operational Support Director for the Scottsdale Police Department. Follow Cassie on LinkedIn, Threads (kinda, @sonoransunsets), and still somehow on X.

What I’m Watching: Darkest Hour

What I’m Reading: Lady Clementine by Marie Benedict (there is a Churchill theme)

What I’m Following: All of the ICMA content from my Pocket Friends.

I’m a firm believer in congruency with one’s values in their work. I’ve literally lectured on the topic in the classroom and may have stood on a soap box once or twice in a passionate conversation. My connection to the values of ELGL is a reason why I’ve loved championing this organization to anyone who will listen and was excited to join the board earlier this year. There is one particular value that I try to root myself in on a daily basis. 


Encouraging joy in public service; making authentic connections to strengthen ourselves and our communities.

But that doesn’t mean that every day is sunshine and rainbows, especially in our line of work in service to others. We may experience a case of the Mondays and spilled coffee, tense interactions with customers, disagreements with our peers, or tragedies alongside our community. In the face of those tragedies, we are also called upon to step up and respond. We are trusted to bring back a sense of comfort and some sense of normalcy while also processing the impact those events have on us as humans.

As public servants and leaders in our community, it can often feel like we must always be happy; always be positive. But that isn’t realistic, and we will have to sit in the suck sometimes. And let’s be honest with ourselves, we can sometimes choose to wallow in that suck. 


But we know that isn’t helpful. And it’s not productive. The people we serve and those we work with don’t need that from us. And most importantly, but sometimes forgotten, WE deserve better for ourselves. Remember joy?!

I’m no stranger to the overwhelming feeling of the suck that tries to pull that joy right out of me. And so, when a challenging moment is particularly strong, I know that I have a few options: 

  1. Acknowledge it. Sit in it. Let it have its time and place (depending on what the instigating factor is). And then move forward. 
  2. Let it fester and eat away at me, as I let my joy be stolen away. 
  3. Identify it and choose to change my lens. 

Those might all seem the same, but they each have small differences. For instance, the first scenario isn’t stealing joy from me, it just simply “is.” Acknowledge it. Accept it. Move on. That’s probably the most ideal, and sometimes that is enough. 

But then those moments arise when I have a strong passion for something in the situation. That tends to land my reaction more in scenario two. It can feel like a doom-scroll of the mind where I just sit in it for far too long. But what happens to me when I get stuck there? Life feels heavier, the days feel longer, I get angry or anxious, I feel less impactful in my job, and I feel generally run down. 


Who is that serving? Not me, not the team around me, and certainly not our community that we serve. It’s okay to feel. It’s okay to feel strongly and passionately. And it’s okay to sit in the suck sometimes to have a real learning experience. But it’s also important to pull ourselves out of that suck and go back to finding joy. We can’t control the world around us, but we can try to control how we respond to it.

So, when I feel myself living in scenario two, I always try to shift into scenario three and change my lens. While that may seem trite, it works! Seeing it from the other side; walking a mile in their shoes; realizing you can’t change it, but you can find the positive. For example, say you’re in a meeting where there are comments that seem negative towards a project you’ve been involved in. You could take it personally and begin to circle down that rabbit hole. But you recognize that you too have experienced frustration in the process. Instead of feeling like others are stating that you did something wrong in the project, identify it. Try seeing it as an affirmation that you are on the same page. Others are seeing the things that you have recognized, and you are on the right path. Then your role is to take that affirmation and find solutions. It’s the lens by which you see the situation that makes the difference. 

We recently rolled out new Foundational Behaviors (I mentioned them in my last blog post), but one behavior that I find especially impactful in light of finding joy is to “make each day meaningful” and we define it as:

“While our passion for excellence is real, remember that the world has bigger problems than the daily challenges that make up our work. Stuff happens. Keep perspective. Don’t take things personally or take yourself too seriously. Laugh every day and be grateful.”

For me, it’s a reminder to not allow things to steal my joy. Change the lens and the find the light. 


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