Do what you can, when you can, with what you have, within your circles and the boxes you must function in.
If you have attended my Excellence in Training Course you know that I am not a fan of the philosophy of “Thinking Outside the Box.” I think we live in a box world, especially as trainers. Policy is a box. The laws are a box. Budgets are a box. A syllabus is a box. There are boxes created by governing and regulatory bodies such as state POST Boards. Other boxes are created by command staff and curriculum designers. You are given a set amount of time, to teach a certain amount of material, to a group of participants. Those are all boxes. You have certain facilities that are available to you, a specific number of instructors, and a certain amount of equipment. Those are all boxes. You can say that you want more time, more instructors, more resources, fewer participants, and more and better facilities, but you likely will be told to get it done with what you have.
So, it is not about thinking outside the box, rather it is about figuring out how to function at the highest level in the box world you live it. That often means getting rid of a bunch of the old stuff in the box and making sure what is in there is the most recent, relevant, practical, and effective content and delivery possible.
So, what do you do when you see changes that need to be made? Start by reflecting on the three circles:
- Circle of Control. This is the smallest of the three and is all about you.
- Circle of Influence. This is larger than the Circle of Control and is about your influence within training and the agency.
- Circle of Concern. This is the largest of the three circles and encompasses all the concerns you have, some of which are outside of your control and influence.
Make a list of all the things under your control and continue to remind yourself to control the controllable. Once you do that then you can reflect on your Circle of Influence within the agency, and specifically within the training realm.
Next ask yourself, “Where might the smallest change make the biggest difference?” Small changes are easier to make as they do not require going through all the levels of bureaucracy to implement them. Remember that there are two parts to the question. The first is “the smallest change” and the second is “that will make the biggest difference”. The second part is about making changes that will give you the biggest return on investment.
Once you have answered the above question then take action. Use your Circles of Control and Influence to implement that small change. Be patient as implementing meaningful change can take time. See this as a continual work in progress and be sure to assess the effects of the change and iterate as needed. Then repeat the cycle.
Some of the most meaningful changes I have seen have come from people at the foundational level of organization. You have more influence than you might realize. You will also start to grow the tribe along the way as you are likely not the only one to see what needs to be changed and improved.
Do what you can, when you can, with what you have, within your circles of Control and Influence and within the boxes you must function in. Be prepared to play the long game, The Infinite Game. This is a journey of continual growth and improvement. There will be times that suck, struggles, setbacks, successes, and failures. Focus on Life’s Most Powerful Question – What’s Important Now? and remember to Embrace the Struggle, Embrace the Suck, Look for the Learning, Look for the Good and Dare to Be Great.
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