The following excerpt from one of James Clear’s 3-2-1 Thursday newsletters has an important message for all trainers:
“The longer you’re a teacher, the less you remember what it is like to be a student.
The longer you’re a doctor, the less you remember what it is like to be a patient.
The longer you’re a coach, the less you remember what it is like to be a player.
Change positions. A new perspective can improve your old methods.”
Have you forgotten what it is like to be a new student, a new white belt, a novice shooter, or a new recruit?
When was the last time you were a student? When was the last time you attended a class where you were a complete novice? When was the last time you attended a course that you had limited interest in and limited knowledge of the subject? For many of us it has probably been a while.
Trainers often migrate to areas of instruction where they have a high level of skill, experience, knowledge, and interest. After years of practice the fundamentals have become habitual and feel and look “natural”. It is at that point where some stop training and pushing themselves and simply settle for skill maintenance.
It can be easy to forget what it was like to be new and to struggle to learn a skill. That struggle however, is good. For learning to take place there has to be some struggle and some friction.
If you realize you have forgotten what it is like to be a student, then seek out opportunities to put yourself in the position of being a novice again. Get a duty belt where all the equipment is on the opposite side of your body and make sure the holsters for your pistol and CEW are different from the ones you normally use. Take a ballroom dance class or some other physical skills class where you have no prior training or experience. If you have never laced on a pair of skates, then find somewhere you can learn ice skating. If you have never picked up a golf club before then go take golf lessons. Take a class to learn a new language or to play an instrument. The point is to put yourself in a position to remember what it feels like to be a new student. It can be a humbling experience and hopefully instill some empathy and compassion for some of your students who are struggling.
If you are willing to put in the time and effort with the new skill, embrace sucking at it for a while, and embrace the struggle you can experience neuroplasticity and learn a new skill, and it might just make you a better instructor.
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