It is easy to become overwhelmed with the constant demands to change, improve and “reform” police training and the vast amount of information and research available on the most effective methods and philosophies for training, teaching, and coaching. In the face of all that it is challenging to decide where to start, and as a result we sometimes just do nothing and leave things as there are.
There are two quotes I share with trainers in my Excellence in Training workshops and courses that I believe may be helpful. The first is from Maya Angelou and it is, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better.” I believe this quote contains three challenges to us as trainers:
- Always do the best you can.
- Stay curious and always be learning.
- When you discover actionable information that can enhance your training, act.
The second quote is a question, which comes from Robert Cooper PhD, “Where might the smallest change make the biggest difference?” This challenges us to pause, reflect, and imagine what small change we can make that would provide the biggest return on investment. This is not change for the sake of change; these are small, well thought out and impactful changes. Consider the interconnected nature of all elements of training and how one well thought out small change can positively impact multiple areas. Why small changes? Because they are easier to make, and they do not require us to go through multiple layers of bureaucracy for approval. We can make a small change, then assess and iterate as often as necessary, make another small change and continue with this journey of small, incremental, and impactful changes. Eventually you will have made significant change because of a series of small steps.
“Change is not a bolt of lightning that arrives with a zap. It is a bridge built brick by brick, every day, with sweat and humility and slips. It is hard work, and slow work, but it can be thrilling to watch it take shape.”
Creating lasting, meaningful change is hard work. It requires dedication and patience because it is often slow work. It requires that you show up every day and do the hard work. It requires that you ignore the skeptics and cynics who suggest it will not make a difference because “nothing every changes around here”. It requires the humility and vulnerability to admit there may be a better way and at times admit, “I used to believe X, but as a result of extensive reading, study, exploration and experimentation I now believe Y.” It requires the understanding that some changes will work out and some will not. That is ok, provided you learn from both your successes and failures.
For this journey of continuous improvement to be sustainable you need to be willing to embrace The Infinite Mindset and The Infinite Game. Two key elements of this are:
- Continually seek to grow the tribe of trainers committed to change and improvement. You can do this by yourself for a while, but you are going to need others to get on board and commit to helping build the bridge of change.
- Be intentional and deliberate about continually training and mentoring your replacement(s). At some point you will move on from training or move on from your agency.
This is not about giving in to the screamers and yellers and the special interest groups who are always demanding change without any evidence or legitimate plan. This is about you, about all of us as training professionals, continually seeking small, meaningful ways to improve the design, delivery, and content of our training to best prepare the heroic men and women of the policing profession for the challenges they face daily. That change may also require a shift in the overall philosophy or culture of the training academy and cadre. We cannot keep hiding behind “That is the way we have always done it here.”, or “This way of training is tradition here.” Well intended traditions may no longer be serving your agency, the profession or the men and women you have the privilege and responsibility to train, teach, coach and mentor.
What are you going to do today to start to build the bridge of change in your training?
Winning Mind Training – Providing practical training to law enforcement professionals in the areas of instructor development, Performance Enhancement Imagery, leadership and mindset.