The Compounding Effect
Financial experts all agree – the sooner you begin saving for your retirement, the better off you are. It is mind boggling the power of making regular deposits early in our adult lives can have on our retirement funds. And it’s all because of the power of compound interest – earning interest on interest earned. But the compounding effect isn’t just for finances, it can greatly enhance our skills and abilities if we are intentional in our efforts.
We’ve said it before and it bears saying again, the folks in law enforcement are a unique breed. Those in blue (and brown and green) show up day after day understanding that they are likely to face dangerous, tragic, or just downright scary situations. Yet they continue to show up time and again and put forth incredible effort in all that they do.
But, even with all the good work that is done and all the skill and knowledge that each of these professionals possess, is there room for improvement? Of course, there is. Everyone (hopefully) believes that they can improve their abilities. Too many folks, though, rely solely on agency-provided training (think annual training) for skill and knowledge improvement. This, quite frankly, isn’t enough. We can’t think of any agency that is in a position to provide every member with all the training that they need or think that they need.
In his book, Atomic Habits, James Clear provides this insight. If a person intentionally seeks to improve their skills and abilities by just 1% each day the results at the end of the year are astounding. The daily improvements likely aren’t noticeable but the cumulative effect certainly is. In fact, if the 1% daily improvement is achieved the person will be 37 times better at the end of the year. Wow! That is astounding!
How does one go about achieving a 1% improvement each day? It requires two (2) primary components – discipline and intentionality. Doing something on a daily basis requires discipline – a discipline that many in society struggle to show. No “cheat days,” no “days off.” Daily – not the whole day – but something each day that leads to improvement. It also requires intentionality. Haphazard efforts produce haphazard and random results. This type of undertaking requires planning, detailed planning, but is incredibly effective and rewarding.
On an agency level, seeking to provide a plan to improve personnel by 1% daily also requires discipline and intentional planning. But it can be done. Gordon Graham’s concept of everyday is a training day is a good place to start. Also, there has been some astonishing research done over the past few years on microlearning (which deserves its own article) that lends itself well to this plan. A minimal time investment can yield incredible results for the agency as a whole.
Much is written about continual improvement. Yet, most effort in this area is directed towards processes. Processes should be addressed and improved but at least the same amount of energy and effort should be focused on continually improving those within the agency. The earlier it begins, the more effective and powerful the compounding effect is.