Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Who is Responsible for Your Training?

Pic is from a recent MCOLES approved training I conducted with a group of officers from police departments throughout West Michigan.

The other day I was having a conversation with another instructor regarding his disappointment with his students performance at their pre-test. He was beating himself up feeling that he had somehow short changed his students. He felt that their poor performance was his fault. He thought that maybe he wasn't going hard enough on them or maybe he did something that didn't motivate them to perform better. Now, I know this instructor well enough to have a good idea how much he is dedicated to his students success. Now don't get me wrong I have had my fair share of instructors that either didn't care, were inept or were just plain horrible teachers. Let me tell you this instructor is none of these. I have a good idea that he is a great instructor and bends over backwards to try to give each of his students access to as much information and insight as he can, yet he still gets frustrated with how little some of the students seem to care. He truly wants the best for them and is willing to sacrifice much to give them what he feels they need. So what's the problem? Why does he feel so frustrated?
Like this sincere instructor, I too have felt this way and sometimes still do. I must sometimes be reminded that we are all responsible for our own training. Most of the people that I train are there because they want to be, not because they HAVE to be. They can leave whenever they want. They can choose to take training as seriously as they want. They can practice on their own as much as they think they need. It is my job to create an environment that is conducive for learning. To share openly and honestly. To be as accessible as much as reasonably possible. To make the learning process as effective as I can. To communicate as clearly as I am able to. But despite all of this the student is still responsible for their own training. Ultimately when it boils down to it it's our own rear end that we are saving if the shit hits the fan in the field or on the street. As Royce Gracie once said about having a black belt, "Your belt protects about 2 inches of your ass, the rest of it is up to you." I couldn't agree more! It's difficult to be a life guard when you can't swim!
This doesn't mean that I am not going to continue to strive to be the best instructor that I can. What it does mean is that I will not deny the other person their journey either, nor will I worry about it. It doesn't do me any good, heck, it doesn't do the student any good either. Granted, sometimes I loose sight of this and get frustrated like everyone else, I just try to refocus and put things back into perspective. I will always be there to help and go above and beyond for the people I train with, but ultimately it is still up to them to train, to work, to embrace, to adapt, to develop... to KEEP GOING! It always has been this way.
Recently I was taking a sociology class and I was having a difficult time. I didn't agree with the way that the instructor held us responsible for his inability to properly schedule his time. He fell behind in his curriculum which ended up with the class having a few major papers due at the same time as the mid-term exam. He was asking for too much. His teaching methods were abysmal. It wasn't fair. I thought that I should catch on to the material faster than I was. The reality was this; if I didn't step up on my own I would not get the grade that I wanted. I discussed this with the professor and he agreed that he should have scheduled his time differently, but ultimately the requirements were not going to change, so if I wanted to get the grade I was after, I would have to bust some butt and deal with it. So I burned the midnight oil and worked through things to get what I believed I deserved. I was responsible for my training even when... especially when the instructor was falling short. Now, I am not encouraging all of you instructors out there to fail at doing a good job teaching, rather I am challenging all of us students out there to be responsible for our own training especially when things become challenging.
Keep going,


  1. You are easily among the best instructors I have ever encountered, both in and out of the military.

    It has been quite impressive to see the dedication you continue to put into your own continuing development. Thanks for all the freely shared insights and contacts along the path.

    Carry on brother,

  2. It's that non-attachment thingy :-) Teachers have to do the best we can, but in the end, the student will decide. Taken to extremes, here's a good article from Asher Bey: http://guruhandbook.com/2007/02/27/the-rope-part-two/