Gratitude to Guro Mike O’Melia, of the Sayoc Clan, Minneapolis Tribe
I devote about 98% of my training development and training time to the nurturance of superior instructors in performance enhancement under extreme stress. Most of them come from Tier One units and high end law enforcement. Among the attributes they share is humility, humor, a devotion to service, and a willingness to challenge their previous thinking and training.
That’s easier said than done.
Many of those who identify as “Instructor” have a significant ego investment in that title and what that means to them. A recurring flaw I see is their unwillingness to “not look good” doing something. Understandable concern when you are responsible for teaching life-saving skills, especially if you are expected to demonstrate said skills. That’s important for your credibility before your audience.
However, if you never risk looking foolish, or being a beginner, or being not-perfect, you run the risk of an emotional and mental (spiritual, if you are so inclined) stunting that will inhibit your performance as an accelerated learning coach. Behavioral flexibility is an overlooked attribute in the superior instructor. The very best of them go from stern task master to supportive coach to ball-busting Elder Dude in the space of a few minutes.
I encourage my instructors to go outside their box. If you’re a firearms instructor, take a knife class. Or a swing-dancing class. Hot-yoga. Ballet. One of the most humbling experiences in my life was trying to keep up with a professional ballet company’s morning class. I was sidelined in fifteen minutes. For military and .gov instructors, I’ve sent them to acting classes, medical hypnosis, yoga, meditation, dance classes. And then I want them to bring those novice experiences back to their classroom. Being a novice while you are an expert in another field, related or not, helps you be a better instructor.
While I’m not a novice when it comes to blade work, I am to the nuances of the Sayoc system. Thanks to the skill of Guro Mike I was able to apply my practices and learn a complicated training pattern in less than 45 minutes. Not pretty, especially to a master Sayoc instructor, but guess what?
It helps me be a better instructor of instructors.
Guro Mike was once upon a time my student. And now I’m his.
That’s the Cycle of Life. Remembering that will make you a better instructor.
Leave your ego at the door and remember to have fun.
The amazing prima ballerina Dame Margot Fonteyn dropped this wisdom:
“The one important thing I have learned over the years is the difference between taking one’s work seriously and taking one’s self seriously. The first is imperative and the second is disastrous.”
When you are in the business of saving lives, and saving lives via training, take your work seriously. But never take yourself seriously while doing it. Your ego will kill your effectiveness as an instructor and, possibly, one of your students.
Be better than that.