Ethical Edge

By Russell Williams

Ethical Edge

Making Memories

The Ethical Edge
The Art of Integrity
Making Memories

Chief of Police, City of Irvine

“Life can only be understood backwards;
but it must be lived forwards.”
Soren Kierkegaard

In 2004 I had the good fortune to be appointed Chief of Police for the City of Irvine. This incredible opportunity fulfilled a long-term ambition and personal goal.  Upon assuming the role of Chief of Police, I was instantly thrust into a position filled with increased responsibility, influence and never-ending leadership challenges. I wholeheartedly embraced the chance to work with extraordinary people and serve in a beautiful community. I immediately enjoyed the stimulation and found the work to be very rewarding. With a 24 hour a day 7 days a week workforce and opportunities to interact with the community during nights and weekends, I soon found myself working long hours.  Like many who have chosen a career in public service, my job does not seem like “work.”   It became easy to live my work around the clock.

Early in my tenure I found myself working more closely than anticipated with our local Fire Chief, Matt Vadala. Matt was an experienced firefighter and leader who had dedicated his life to public service. As I forged a collaborative friendship with Matt, I continually encountered a man of incredible integrity, faith and character. As our partnership flourished I learned he had been married many years and had two young adult children.

Weekly, I came to look forward to our meetings and learned much from Matt including leadership skills and qualities. Consistently each time we met, Matt would always ask about my family. He learned that my wife and I had been married for ten years and had two youngsters, a boy and a girl.

One day I clearly remember Matt telling me he thought I was doing a good job as the new police chief and that my hard work seemed to be paying off. But then he asked me how much time I was spending with my young family. He shared with me how our rewarding careers in public service could potentially put our lives out of balance. Over the course of many months, Matt talked with me about the importance of making memories with my family. He told me that kids grow up fast and that you only get one “season” with them in your home. Matt encouraged me to work hard at my job, but to be intentional in carving out time for my family. He challenged me to enjoy weekends with them and to plan for and execute memorable vacations.

Matt taught me I had to lead and serve my family just like I tried to lead and serve my Department.  Nine years later, I still struggle balancing the time between the job I love and the family I love.  While Matt has been retired for several years now, he still keeps me accountable to my family during breakfast conversations over oatmeal and coffee and an occasional text messages asking if I’m making memories I’m working on it!

What a great gift from a special friend.  Everyone should have a Matt to help them move into action.
This week’s article was contributed by Police Chief David Maggard

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