Simply put, the hardest task you must master is sticking to your training regimen as a team over time. It’s easy when you’ve first formed your NPT and the members are excited about all the neat things you’re learning and doing. But like champagne left open without a cork, after a time, it becomes flat. This will occur after all the ‘whiz-bang’ training is complete, and you’ve been through every tactical, survival, combatatives, intelligence, communications, casualty care, land navigation, marksmanship, and any other class you can think of, the ‘bubbles’ start to evaporate, and the hard part of being consistent and getting your NPT together on a routine schedule and practicing everything you’ve learned starts.
Then, after a time, the skills your team is practicing together will seem to become so easy that you and your team will start to believe you can do it in your sleep. And that’s when boredom will set in, and as a NPT is comprised of ‘regular folks’, thoughts of, “I can be doing other stuff now, I’ve got this down,” will start to surface. Once that occurs, watch closely, because you’ll see evidence of the other ‘more important’ things take precedence over training together. I’m not talking about slipping a training day due to a family event, unusual work requirement or other exigency; but the slipping of training from, say, one day a month to one day a quarter to twice a year or less. Or, once roles are assigned in the NPT, the members focus so diligently on that role that team practice of the basics takes a distant second in importance.
It’s a difficult problem to overcome, but it’s important, because the apathy that breeds from believing mastery is the end of the training journey leads to atrophy in the skills in question. Remember, every NPT skill you learn is perishable: If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. At the minimum, you’ll slip from “Willing and Able” to “Able and Unwilling” or less on the task maturity continuum.
As time goes on, if you’re not careful, you’ll see your NPT start to dissolve. Excuse/Reason after excuse/reason why various members won’t be able to make a training day; fill in the blank as to what it might be. When you start see that, it’s your ‘detonation is imminent’ warning.
What to do? Again, simply put, keep at it. Keep scheduling and conducting your NPT training. Even if it’s just you. Stay consistent over the long term. Stay loyal to your cause, which was and is: Master the skills to protect your family and NPA.
Remember you’re in this for the long haul. Remind your team: The. Long. Haul. There’s not going to be time for an intense 4 day refresher when things go South, no matter how intense. Think of how sore you might be if you stopped your PT for 3 months and decided to get back where you were and your first PT session was the same intensity level as a few months back when you were in shape. Imagine how sore and unable to move you’d be. Same goes for your NPT skills. Bruce Lee is attributed to have said:
Remember this: Being good at something comes from doing the same thing the same way every time you do it, and it should be done often. The skills you master are perishable. Your excellence in what you can do will be judged on the day you are required to protect your ‘precious cargo.’
Parting thought, because it fits more than just PT: