Illuminate – December 2018


By Michael Nila

We teach Blue Courage around the country — we’re teaching line level officers. We often hear, from their perspective, some of the horror stories about leadership; about how they’re led. We hear of some of our failures, our challenges that make it difficult for them to do their job. Because of the feedback we have received over the years, Dr. Hector Garcia and I chose to put our heads and our hearts together and create a new course called Heart-Focused Leadership to discuss and educate on how we should learn to lead more effectively in this challenging environment of today.

We usually start with a short exercise: we ask them to close their eyes and point to themselves with their strong hand. We then instruct them to open their eyes and look at where they are pointing. Do you think that they point to their head? Just like about 99% of human beings, when asked to point to themselves they point to their heart.  Instinctively, when we say point to yourself, we don’t think of ourselves as our heads. We think of ourselves as our heart. Some of the things that we’ve learned from the scientist and doctors of the HeartMath Institute, who spent five years researching PTSD, stress prevention, peak performance, how we perform our best under adverse conditions; they are making the case for the heart mind connection even to the point that we’re now learning that the heart has its own heart-brain. We know that the heart sends far more information to the brain than the brain ever sends back to the heart. However, for thousands of years in the history of mankind, we always believed that the mind — the brain — was the seat of our soul. Now we’re beginning to turn that up on its head, and understand the power inherently that exists in our heart to drive everything else. Even the energy that can be measured coming off of a human being — human beings are nothing more than just a big human body of energy. The energy coming off of the human brain can only be measured up to three inches away. That’s the power of the brain, three inches. But the energy coming from the heart can be measured up to three to seven feet away and as HeartMath Institute said that we really believe that energy from the heart can literally be sent out into the universe. So when a collective nation, an organization, a continent begins to feel the same thing, it has immense power to move the universe.

The heart is our emotional center. We are feeling human beings before we are thinking human beings. We like to think of ourselves as rational, sentient human beings. However, it is emotion that often drives everything we do. If you doubt that, have you ever let something come out of your mouth that, if given a microsecond to think about it, you would never have said it? All of us have had those moments, because in that moment we were acting on emotion as emotional human beings rather than thinking human beings. And of course, all of us have done things that if we had a fraction of a second to think about it, we would never, ever do it. Have you sent an email where the minute you hit the send button said, “Oh, can I get it back?” We’re acting emotionally — the heart is our actual emotional center. However, our entire society, how we lead our organization’s, how we teach our children how we conduct our training education for police officers is far more intellectually centered than it is about speaking to the heart.

Mark Crowley has written a wonderful book called “Leading from the Heart.” He is speaking across the world attempting to wake people up to how we need to get more into our people’s hearts if we want to enhance engagement. This is what he says: “The decision to be engaged is made in workers’ hearts, not their minds.” Leaders exist for one reason and that’s to enhance the engagement, productivity, and contribution of their people. If you study this issue of engagement, pay attention to Gallop who are the best in the world at researching employee engagement. Their studies will tell you that even though we’ve been focusing on leadership development, developing high performance teams and emotional intelligence for the last twenty-five years, the employee engagement across the planet has not inched up one iota. Nothing has really changed despite all this emphasis on leadership, which tells us we’re obviously not doing something right. Crowley continues: “We now know that feelings and emotions drive human behavior — what people care most about and commit themselves to in their lives.” Consequently, how leaders and organizations make people feel in their jobs had the greatest impact on their performance.

Simon Sinek’s take on leadership is how people feel you is how they’re going to respond to you, and how they’re going to translate that into the workplace. Google is doing research on how many times certain words are used in society. One of the things they found is that the use of words related to things like ethics, integrity, and feelings have declined greatly. Compassion, for example, has dropped 56%, thankfulness has dropped 49%. Courage and words like bravery, which are all about being sourced in the heart, have fallen over 66%. So even in our language, people are beginning to speak the language of the head, not the heart. How we speak flows from how we think and how we think always reflects how we feel. We know that human behavior is driven by our feelings and our thoughts, and that translates into behavior — behavior translates into results.

The best of leaders are the leaders who are willing to take the risk and be the most humanly vulnerable. Not an easy thing for a lot of us in this business, but that’s what drives the feeling, the emotion, the passion, the productivity, the challenge of the people that we lead. They want to see us as human, not as brilliant. I have learned that this is the only path — there’s no shortcut. There’s no easy fix. There is no inoculation. There’s no one book, no one class. But it starts with leading from the heart and creating the right heart-set. When you do that, 90% of your leadership challenge is done.

In short and in its simplicity, heart-focused leadership is leadership that inspires; it’s leadership that feeds emotion, lifts spirits, purpose and why driven, protects and nurtures those that it serves, and it’s also incredibly rare. Leadership is hard — that’s why so few people actually engaged in the best of leadership. Take your left hand, put it over your heart. Take your right hand, put that over your left hand. Just close your eyes and just for a moment, sit in stillness in silence. No thoughts, just simply breath and feel your hands on your heart. When we’re able to shut out the noise — quiet the sixty to eighty thousand thoughts that we have every single day in our head from the moment we are born, and we know that 90% of those thoughts are the same thought you had yesterday, same thoughts you’re going to have tomorrow — but when we can quiet it and simply feel and sit in stillness and silence in the moment, then we allow ourselves to activate the power of our heart. 

The Reflection Corner

Thought provoking questions to spark conversations!

Do you practice Heart-Focused Leadership consistently?

A Holiday Video for You

From all of us at Blue Courage, we wish you and your loved ones a warm, safe, and loving holiday season! We look forward to all the amazing, heroic work ahead of you in 2019!

Feeding the Mind

Recommended Reading


The Nobility of Policing

BY Michael J. Nila, forwarded by Stephen R. Covey

This inspirational book takes a look into the lives of law enforcement professionals: the challenges, the nobility, and the contribution of America’s guardians. This book is about the profession of policing and the men and women who safeguard our freedoms. In doing so, they honor the Nobility of Policing. The book also comes with an inspirational video reinforcing the themes taught.

Why you should read this book:

  • It is an inspirational masterpiece, written to influence not just policing, but anyone in the law enforcement/public safety profession. The lessons and teachings of this book can translate across the field.
  • This book is filled with stories and quotes that will remind you of your purpose and mission.
  • It is a short read that keeps you captivated and provides motivation throughout each page.
  • The contents will make you proud to be in this profession.

To purchase this book, click here.

Inspiring Awareness

Each month, we will present information and recommendations that could effectively enhance your way of thinking, behaving, and feeling.


Santa Claus was originally a monk named St. Nicholas. He was born in Turkey and admired for his piety and kindness. It’s said that he traveled the countryside giving away his inherited wealth to help the needy and the sick. He soon became known as a protector of children and sailors. St Nicholas is technically celebrated on December 6th – the anniversary of his death. It is considered very lucky to make a large purchase or to get married on December 6th!

Christmas Trivia:

  • The name Santa Claus evolved from Nick’s Dutch nickname Sinter Klaas – a shortened form of Sint-Nikolaas. 
  • The images of Santa Claus came about in 1804 born out of New York’s Historical Society.
  • Stores began advertising Christmas shopping in 1820 – by the 1840’s, newspapers started a separate section for holiday advertising.
  • On January 1st, 1881 Harpers Weekly dropped the Thomas Nast’s famous picture of Santa with the big belly, red suit, arm full of toys, and a pipe.
  • It is a myth that Coca Cola designed Santa’s red suit – as a bishop, St. Nick wore red robes; he first appeared in Coke advertisements in 1920.
  • Rudolph and the other reindeer are most likely all female….male reindeer shed their antlers in the winter! Can you name all 9 reindeer?
  • Pope Julius I established December 25th the day to celebrate the birth of Jesus as a way to Christianize a pagan midwinter celebration – over time, St. Nicholas’ feast day became associated with Christmas and the connection was established.

Have a very Magical and Merry Christmas!


Our Illuminate issues will be put on a brief hold and will commence in the near future. Keep and eye out for them again!

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