Some training isn’t getting taught. And it’s arguably as important, if not more important, than some that is.
In this job, we are constantly challenged by events. Some we choose (e.g. university, our profession, our partners), and some we don’t (e.g. incidents, complaints, the Lockdown, accidents, disappointments). In his book ‘TimePower’, author and expert Charles R. Hobbs analysed the ‘Event-Response’ options and concluded that there were five scenarios. They were:
- Events we think we can control, and we can.
- Events we think we can’t control – and we can’t.
- Events we think we can control – but we can’t.
- Events we think we can’t control – but we can.
- Events we think we can control – but we don’t.
We need not explore the first two – they are events which training or experience has told us we need give no further consideration. We know what to do, or know we are wasting time trying to do anything. Our response to such events is routine, it’s going with the flow.
The third is funny to watch – when someone tries to control something they can’t. I recall trying to watch a police colleague trying to hold down a car that was trying to drive off. Ambitious. (Also funny because I’d tried the same thing some 7 years earlier.)
The last two need some consideration. They are different, but perhaps simultaneously the same.
Events we think we can’t control, but we can; and events we think we can control, but we don’t.
Both represent lost opportunities. In another sense, they are also examples of poor training and education. Not necessarily formal education, but perhaps the kind of education that is so frequently missing – personal development training. The kind of training that empowers people. (Or, to use the modern buzzword – Leadership.)
In the first case, it enables people to explore new ways of doing what needs to be done. It acknowledges resourcefulness of the individual or the team. It communicates to people, “There is a problem, and it seems insurmountable. But you’ve faced similar challenges before and you overcame those. Why not apply the same level of initiative to what faces you today?”
In the latter case it motivates them to do what otherwise they may want to avoid. It reminds people of Albert E. Gray’s tenet, “The successful person has the habit of doing the things failures don’t like to do. They don’t like doing them either necessarily. But their disliking is subordinated to the strength of their purpose.” It says, “You not only can do it – you MUST do it.” Speaker Tony Robbins put it another way. He said,
“If you can’t, you must. And if you must – you can.”
Some professionals decry the personal development industry, and I found in the police force that the confidence that policing requires often undermined my efforts to educate colleagues on that very subject. Which is a shame, because such input solves many of the problems faced by officers and staff these days, even if it simply reminds them that they do have the capability and capacity to cope – instead of the constant input on ‘mental health awareness’ that seems, inadvertently and with positive intent, to actually empower the feelings of helplessness. I am convinced that if you tell people often enough that ‘work creates stress’, then it inevitably creates the very stress you’re trying to avoid.
(I am equally convinced that an example of this is the constant delivery of the message to school students that ‘exams are stressful’. Well, call me old-fashioned, but if the teaching’s up to it, exams should be easy. At GCSE and A Level they’re just regurgitation of facts and thinking processes that teachers should have taught their students. You had two years!)
The delivery of personal development training, and in my specific case, time management training, are the cures to many of the challenges faced by policing colleagues today – in many ways and in many scenarios.
I therefore call upon senior leaders to recognise that what they have demonstrated naturally, some need to be taught. And the consequences of that training would massively and positively improve policing.
Over to you, Boss.