“Monday morning quarterbacking.” Sometimes it’s a Bad Thing, but…sometimes not? Maybe it’s incumbent on you to do so? Well, that’s what today’s guest author (and longtime B-B-C reader) thinks. Seems to us that a lot of what he says here could apply to LEOs, the military, hell firefighters and others. How about you? Mad Duo
Get Over Yourself-Act Like a Professional
It makes me angry when I hear a law enforcement firearms instructor say, “You weren’t there, you can’t say anything”, “Don’t Monday morning quarterback”, or “What you did was right and you can’t change it, so don’t question it or wonder what you could have done differently”.
I am not judging. I was not there. Neither was the press, a judge, or a jury of your peers. But I have knowledge. I have training. I have insight. I possess expertise. I can form an opinion and provide a critique. I will not judge. The media, judges, jurors, do not possess expertise. They do judge. There is a distinct difference.
So quit it. Get over yourself. Stop making excuses. You want to be treated as an adult? As a professional? Start acting like one. Professionals understand they will make mistakes. Adults understand that mistakes are enablers of success. “To err is human, to forgive is divine” (Alexander Pope), and that’s absolutely correct. Make mistakes. Not intentionally, but in the pursuit of becoming better. Learn from your mistakes, learn how to improve upon your past performance and be a better person. After all, that’s what professionals do.
Professional oversight is necessary. It allows us to prove our individual performance, look for flaws in our training, and share the shortcomings of training or performance with the collective. Why? Because knowledge is power. It doesn’t get much worse than knowing your training methods, tactics, etc., are inadequate, and then doing a) nothing, or b) something, but not sharing what you’ve learned with your personnel so they are better able to perform in a similar situation.
It’s about education, the sharing of knowledge to evaluate and encourage more capable performance in others. It’s NOT about personal feelings or judgment. Professionals are able to accept input, feedback, constructive criticism – call it what you want – from others and not take it personally. Professionals understand that failure is an opportunity for improvement, and that the ability to share knowledge is not only a part of a wonderful two-way exchange, but better enables other’s ability to succeed. Professionals understand that neither personal feelings nor judgment have a place in the analysis of an individual’s performance when attempting to foster improvement.
In this process, an individual’s performance and training are being called into question, not their character. Did they perform well? If so, why? Could they have done better? If so, how? If the individual failed, what caused the failure? Was it a lack of understanding? A lack of proper instruction or adequate instructional time? Did they perform according to the training they were provided? If so, did their performance validate the training they received? Should training methods be altered? Notice something about these questions – none are aimed at the individual’s character. All questions are aimed at their performance within the context of the particular incident and the specific facts and circumstances known to them at that time.
We continue to perpetuate a flawed approach with each generation of law enforcement officers. When these people are the most impressionable, they are taught that their actions and decisions should not be questioned by their peers; that they are incapable of improvement. Have you ever heard something along the lines of “Your performance is your performance, it was right for the time because you did it, so don’t let anyone question you, because they weren’t there”? We’re taught that we should not learn from our or others’ mistakes or even talk about them, as that is too judgmental. This practice engenders mindlessness, disconnection, and helplessness.
As an instructor, you have a tremendous amount of responsibility to your trainees, your in-service personnel, their families, and the community you serve. It is easy to get caught up in self-validation and the continuation of programs and curriculum simply because that’s what you were taught, or what you are comfortable teaching. It is also easy to justify your teachings or by failing to probe for weaknesses.
It is time to stop stunting our potential with the “you weren’t there and can’t judge” mindset. Instead we must elevate openness, not only with our students and curriculum, but with ourselves. In doing so, we can effectively communicate actions to our students in a way that they understand, which helps them perform effectively, subconsciously, and on demand.
About the Author: Alan Lambertson is a 10-year veteran peace officer of a busy California department. He has worked patrol, as an FTO (Field Training Officer), an FBI certified firearms and EVOC instructor, departmental armorer and is currently assigned to the agency’s EOD unit.