Training: Repetition is the mother of learning

Anything worthwhile is worth working at

In last month’s issue of Leadership eNews, I gave three basic tips to make training more valuable. First, don’t use PowerPoint as a teleprompter. Second, be clear about the theme or the takeaway of the training. And third, use varied teaching modes since people learn in a variety of ways.

These are quick, relatively easy changes that can transform a training from a waste of time into a life-changing experience. “Life changing” sounds pretty dramatic, I know, but the fact is training can change (and save) lives.

After that article posted, I received an email from a reader who made a great point that I fully subscribe to. He said,

“It appears that few in the [law enforcement] arena follow the lessons learned in their initial training. To me, in order to be a success at what one does, practice is mandatory. Responses to conflict must be an unconscious reaction. To put it in a nutshell, to be a success in anything. Practice becomes part of one’s life. I have experienced this when training defensive tactics. Many believe they know the drill and soon become statistics.”

As he suggested, getting good at anything requires practice; it must become part of one’s life.

We can see that in everything we do:

How many times have we corrected and instructed our children only once, and they understood and made the change immediately and flawlessly? Never. We have to keep practicing at being good parents and they have to keep practicing to get it right.  

How many times have you gone out to the firing range, expecting to hit the center perfectly every time and never return to the range? Never. We have to keep practicing.

How many times have we heard lectures at the academy and remembered those lessons for the next twenty or thirty years, applying them as intended out on the streets, with probationers, or in the confines of jail or prison? Never.

The point the reader was making is that training has to be an ongoing process. That’s one reason my life skills classes at Harris County Sheriff’s Academy are a six-month series – so that officers have a chance to continue to cement the lessons to be learned and apply them at work and home week after week, month after month.

Anything worthwhile is worth working at. If you want to improve your skills, it requires a plan of practice, adjustment, and more practice. And it doesn’t matter what the skill is.

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