Dan Dworkis MD PhD, an emergency room physician, author of The Emergency Mind and host of the Emergency Mind Podcast talks about four key elements to performing at the highest level on a continual basis.
Prepare – Perform – Recover – Evolve
Take a few minutes to reflect on these four elements and ask yourself, “Which of these am I neglecting? How many of these are we neglecting as an organization?”
Prepare is about ongoing training and learning. How often are you training your mind, body, and craft? You may work our regularly, although too many in the profession do not, but what about training mind and craft? What rituals do you have to ensure you are continually learning and continually practicing the skills needed for you to perform at the highest level as a law enforcement professional and as a trainer? What about your people? How often do they get training? Is it once a year in a block format, or is your agency micro dosing training in small daily chunks at roll call and in other formats? When they do show up for annual in-service is it the same thing every year? Is it ‘check the box’ training or is it high quality, engaging training designed and delivered to enhance learning, retention, recall and application of the material being taught? What about preparing the mind for where the body may have to go? How much time in your training is devoted to teaching mental skills?
Perform is the element you and your people do all the time. The question you need to ask is, “If I am neglecting Preparation and / or Recovery am I (are we) Evolving and actually performing at my / our highest level?
Recovery is an element the too often gets neglected. Recovery is about sleep quality and duration, it is about nutrition, it is about stress management practices, and about having rituals to transition to the other roles you fulfill in life such as husband / wife / partner, son / daughter, sister / brother, and mother / father. It is about disconnecting from work when you are not at work. This can be challenging for SWAT personnel, negotiators, peer support personnel and others who are on call. But what about when you are not on call? How often do you talk about recovery during your training? What have you done to educate your people about the importance of sleep, the stages of sleep and the cost of sleep deprivation.? Have you reached out to sleep and circadian rhythm specialists to get information on how your people can best manage the circadian rhythm disruptions of shiftwork? Does your agency have a system to allow on duty restorative rest naps? Recovery can also be micro recovery between calls using breathing to down regulate the stress from a call. Recovery also involves seeking help when you are struggling after a call. This can be peer to peer or with a mental health professional. As a profession we need to appreciate the importance of recovery rituals.
The way you Evolve is through continual reflection, dialogue, discussion, and review. This is why debriefings and after-action reviews are so critical. Are your frontline supervisors trained in how to effectively conduct debriefs and after-action reviews? Do you conduct debriefs regularly following training to continually improve the training you are delivering? We need to continually evolve our preparation and recovery to enhance our performance.
Spend some time in reflection to see where you need to improve in the Prepare – Perform – Recover – Evolve process.
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