In a recent newsletter from The Daily Coach – Notes of An Elder they shared what they called “The Magic Question” That question was, “What is it that I don’t know, that I need to know, to become valuable and stay relevant?” The challenge here is that you don’t know what you don’t know. The key then is to open your eyes, your ears and your mind and you will start to get clues.
Read broadly, listen to a range of podcasts and audio books. Pay attention to ideas, principles, concepts, and research that makes you pause and go, “Huh. That is interesting. I didn’t know that. I wonder how I could apply that to my training?” Make a point of going to conferences like ILEETA and attending a wide range of classes. Engage in deeper discussions with instructors and fellow participants about the ideas that make you pause and spark the desire to learn more about. Ask for recommendations for reading or resources to further your knowledge, then follow up on the recommendations.
When you hear people talk about principles and concepts related to making learning stick such as effortful retrieval, spaced practice, desirable difficulties, and interleaving are you interested enough to do a deeper dive and learn more? This might mean reading books like Make it Stick and How We Learn, or it might mean attending a presentation on the topic at the ILEETA conference, listening to Excellence in Training Academyinterviews on the topic. It might mean seeking out someone who understands these principles and concepts and ask them if they would help you work through understanding the concepts and the potential applications for training.
When you hear people talk about theories and concepts such as dynamical systems theory, the constraints led approach, non-linear pedagogy, the challenge point framework, ecological dynamics, challenge versus threat states, focus of attention, human error, human factors, mental skills training, Performance Enhancement Imagery, and professional judgement and decision making are you curious enough to explore some or all of these topics to gain a better understanding of what they are and what the applications to training might be?
“Once you stop learning, you start dying.”
Being a an aggressively average trainer is hard work. There is always more to learn. Every book you read or listen to leads to more books. Every class you teach provides opportunities to learn and improve. Every conversation with a fellow forward-thinking trainer leads to more information to dive deeper into. Every research paper leads to more research papers. Every worthwhile conference, course or workshop leaves you with more questions. Figuring out the real-world applications to police training for the volumes of research is challenging and requires deep thought, reflection, and the courage to run experiments.
This is not about jumping on the bandwagon for every theory or model you hear about or read about. It is not about throwing out everything you have done in the past. It is not about “burning the boats” and going all in on any one model or theory. It is about continually looking for small actionable steps to improve your training. It is about striving for small incremental improvements in your knowledge, skills, and craft. It is about continuing to ask the question, “Where might the smallest change make the biggest difference?” and then acting on the answer.
I realize that for many of you training is a peripheral duty and not your full-time assignment. If that is your reality, then implement the principle of spaced practice and do a little a lot. Commit just 1% of ever day (14 minutes and 24 seconds) to professional growth and development; you might be surprised how much you learn and grow.
For those of you who are full time trainers I know many of you are extremely busy between in-service training, recruit training and all the other constant demands that come with being a full-time trainer and so may feel you have limited time to commit to study and professional development. If that is your reality, then implement the principle of spaced practice and do a little a lot. Commit just 1% of ever day (14 minutes and 24 seconds) to professional growth and development and you might be surprised how much you learn and grow.
You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to have all the answers. You do have to keep learning, keep growing, keep running experiments and keep striving to be relevant and provide value to those who attend your training. Sometimes you hit the mark, sometimes you miss the mark. Keep striving. Keep learning. Keep growing.
Winning Mind Training – Providing practical training to law enforcement professionals in the areas of instructor development, Performance Enhancement Imagery, leadership and mindset.