By definition, overconfidence leads to risky behavior and inadequate preparation. – Seth Godin
Overconfidence, perhaps another way of describing complacency, is something that all trainers should guard against. Not only for themselves, but also for those whom they train.
Personally, trainers must be careful of overconfidence in a couple of ways. First, we must be sure that we are not overconfident in our material. We fail to update class material because we think it’s already good enough. “Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” It sure is easier for me if all I have to do is bring out the same material I taught last year. But things change. Advances are made, laws change. Do not become overconfident in your material.
We also have to ensure that we do not become overconfident in our tactics. Tactics can be improved upon. Technology can sometimes render some tactics obsolete. We should continually be seeking to improve the quality of the tactics that are taught so that our people have the best possible chance of handling a situation.
Instructors must also take care that they are not creating an overconfidence in any one particular tool. That’s why we have toolbelts – so that we can have several tools available to us. We can, however, cultivate an overconfidence in a tool. I remember when my agency first got Tasers. They were fantastic! They seemed to be the answer to just about everything. As a result, the use of pepper spray and the number of times people went “hands-on” nearly dropped to zero. We were forced to adjust our training so that our folks knew that sometimes other options were appropriate.
We must guard against personal overconfidence. We must challenge those we train to avoid overconfidence. Each of us should ask ourselves these questions every single day. “How do I know what I think I know? Why do I do what I do? Why do I believe what I believe?”