In one of his recent 3–2-1 Thursday Newsletters James Clear shared the following excerpt from mathematician and computer scientist Seymour Papert on how our beliefs shape our actions and why we must try to learn new things:
“An unknown but certainly significant proportion of the population has almost completely given up on learning. These people seldom, if ever engage in deliberate learning and see themselves as neither competent at it nor likely to enjoy it. The social and personal cost is enormous.
Although negative self-images can be overcome, in the life of an individual they are extremely robust and powerfully self-reinforcing. Deficiency becomes identity: “I can’t learn French, I don’t have an ear for languages;” “I could never be a businessman, I don’t have a head for figures;”…
If people believe firmly enough that they cannot do math, they will usually succeed in preventing themselves from doing whatever they recognize as math. The consequences of such self-sabotage is personal failure, and each failure reinforces the original belief. And such beliefs may be most insidious when held not only by individuals, but by our entire culture.”Seymour Papert, Mindstorms
Several things struck me related to training and trainers as I read this.
- As a trainer you must avoid falling into the category of people who have completely given up on learning. If you find yourself in this group, then take action to change that mindset or get out of training.
- You have people in your agency who have fallen into that category for a variety of reasons. You need to make training fun and engaging and strive to reignite their desire to learn.
- As trainers we all have negative self-images and limiting beliefs about ourselves. They can be overcome if you are willing to do the work.
- The participants in your training all have negative self-images and limiting beliefs about themselves. Previous teachers, coaches and trainers likely played a role in developing and enforcing those negative and limiting self-beliefs and self-images.
- Your job as a trainer is to help the participants in your training understand that we all have those negative and limiting beliefs and negative self-images. Once you acknowledge that it is a natural and normal part of being human, then give them the tools and strategies to allow them to do the work to change them and enhance their performance.
This is why providing mental skills training early and often is so critical. Mental skills training provides options and strategies that allow people to pick and choose, mix and match, and run personal experiments to determine which tools, or combination of tools, works best for them in various situations.
These mental skills include:
- Understanding and embracing a Growth Mindset,
- self-talk and mind chatter,
- goal setting and the importance of process / action goals,
- arousal regulation.
One of the many elements of training that makes it so challenging is the human element. Trainers are human, the men and women attending training are human, and humans are arguable the most complex animals on the planet. Humans all have flaws and biases. Humans have a lifetime of experiences and programming. Humans have negative self-images and limiting beliefs. Humans also all have the capacity to grow and change. Our brains are malleable, and we are capable of neuroplasticity for our entire lives.
Keep learning. Keep growing. Keep striving to inform, educate and equip the men and women you train with the knowledge and skills to help them learn and grow.
Winning Mind Training – Providing practical training to law enforcement professionals in the areas of instructor development, Performance Enhancement Imagery, leadership and mindset.