“In most of psychology, researchers describe what is. Often they do this with great acumen and creativity. But knowing what is and knowing what can be are not the same thing. My interest, for as long as I can remember, is in what can be, and in learning what subtle changes might make that happen. My research has shown how using a different word, offering a small choice, or making a subtle change in the physical environment can improve our health and well-being.
Small changes can make large differences, so we should open ourselves to the impossible and embrace the psychology of possibility. The psychology of possibility first requires that we begin with the assumption that we do not know what we can do or become. Rather than starting from the status quo, it argues for a starting point of what we would like to be. From that beginning, we can ask how we might reach that goal and make progress toward it. It’s a subtle change in thinking, although not difficult to make once we realize how stuck we are in culture, language, and modes of thought that limit our potential.”
Ellen Langer addresses The Psychology of Possibility from a health and wellness perspective. What if we used it from a training perspective? Instead of getting locked in to ‘What Is’, what if we started to talk about ‘What Can Be’? What if we stopped coming up with all the reasons it won’t work, we could never do that, they will never approve that, our officers will never buy into that and shifted the conversation to, “What if we could do it? What would it look like? What would be the first step to achieving that?”
It is too easy to get locked into our current reality and live in the world of “what is”. Even more dangerous is living in the world of “what was” and always talking about, “When I went through training…”
Nobody gives a crap what it was like when you went through training. What they care about is what are you going to do to help them learn what you are teaching and develop the competence and confidence to help them do the tasks they are required to perform on the street at the highest level. Accomplishing that requires that you continually embrace the Psychology of Possibility and a ‘What Can Be’ mindset.
Start by determining where you want to go (What can be.). Then determine where you are (What is). Then get to work to developing and implementing a strategic plan on how to close that gap.
If you are happy with What Is, and not interested in What Can Be, then it is time to move on to another assignment and get out of training.
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