The following is an excerpt from a recent newsletter by Lou Tice of The Pacific Institute:
“Do you know what Scotomas are? Everyone has them and they can keep you from seeing the opportunities all around you.”
“So what, exactly, is a “Scotoma?” It’s what doctors call the defect that blocks sight in one part of our visual field. It’s also a term I use to describe our occasional failure to see what’s right in front of us because we build our own Scotoma, or mental blind spot, to it.”
“You see for the most part, we see what we expect to see or what we look for, not what is really there. What we expect to see is determined by our beliefs about reality.”
“We can choose to expand our consciousness, remove our blind spots, and adopt beliefs that will help us grow instead of clinging to expectations and attitudes that keep us suspicious and small. By the simple act of making this choice, we actually start the wheels of a better future turning.”
As I read it I began to think about how we as trainers develop and suffer from Scotomas. Those blind spots in our own training that we are unable to see. This is often because we are too close to the issues. We often are involved in the development of the training program so we become emotionally invested in it. The up side of that emotional investment is the passion and conviction we bring to our training. The downside is the blind spots that result in training gaps we have previously explored and will continue to explore in future e-mails.
The question then is how to we identify current blind spots, and avoid blind spots in the future? Here are some thoughts:
- Ask you officers what they believe is missing from your training programs or could be done to improve the programs. This is where you need to set aside your ego and listen to what they have to say.
- Pay attention to consistent issues that arise in scenarios. If the same less desirable behaviors continue to surface maybe it is the training and not the officer.
- Get someone from another area of your department’s training section to come in and audit your training. Encourage them to ask questions. The questions often reveal those blind spots and gaps.
- Have someone from outside to come in and audit your training. Sometimes they are able to clearly see issues that are in your blind spot.
- Be your own devils advocate. Challenge each trainer in your agency to find one training gap or blind spot. Beware the tendency to say “There are no gaps in our program.” and move on. Every program has gaps, the challenge is to find them.