One of the frustrating parts of my job is having to deal with egos. There are some pretty thin skinned folks within this industry and feelings can get hurt pretty easily.
I fall back to how I look at training, what goes through my mind when I am a student. It is pretty much the same, albeit maybe not as aggressive if I were learning something different like dancing, but as it relates to my profession it is pretty simple. I walk up to the instructor cadre and introduce myself, I close by confirming to each of them their job. Their job is to increase my lethality on the battlefield. It’s as simple as that, there are no egos to bruise, there is just peak performance to achieve. I learned this years ago as a young frogman and it has served me well to this day. I would ask that each student consider doing the same. This shift in mindset is critical to your survival for one, but it relieves you of all the stress associated with performance. I don’t care if I’m making mistakes, I care that I am learning and the mistakes are decreasing while performance is increasing.
Tripping over yourself
At this last class I had one student who got really wrapped around the axle. His performance at the closer ranges was meeting the standards, but at the extended ranges he was struggling, disqualifying on more than one occasion. Rather than look at it as software problem, he tackled it as a hardware and started doing all sorts of things to his gear. His attempts at correcting only made matters worse, now he was compounding errors on top of one another. Like I mentioned, it is frustrating to watch and as the old saying goes you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.
Eventually I got tired of the lack luster performance, he had demonstrated better performance in the past. For some reason he had been lulled that some other technique was superior and refused to give up on it until literally he was struggling enough that it took just a little push to get him back on course. Ok, I’ll admit my push is your standard counciling session where I don’t care about your feelings, I care about your performance. I don’t care if you look good doing it, I care whether you can hit on command consistently. I don’t care if it is what all the “tacti-cool” kids are doing, I care whether you are going to have superior skill on the battlefield.
Stop living the lie
After his counciling session, he got his mind right and while he did tweak his gear a little, I believe it had more to do with applying what we had been teaching for the past 2.5 days. Coming in the afternoon of day three is hard to make up your scores, it’s even hard to achieve the repetitions, but I believe the point was driven home and the improvement in his performance showed at the end. It is a shame it took so long, but this is not too uncommon. That is the beautiful thing about standards, they are not going to lie. You can either meet them or you can’t. I see folks trying to take shortcuts, but truthfully there is just good old fashion hard work. Hard work and solid instruction.
It’s easy to practice the wrong thing until you are really good, it is much harder to change that habit. Let performance be your guide, you can’t be wrong then.
It is easier to prevent bad habits than to correct them. Benjamin Franklin, Founding Father