"Good Enough" and The Will to Win

June 16, 2016

"Good Enough" and The Will to Win

This article was originally written for policeone.com.

How many times have you either said or heard the phrase “good enough”? Over the years, I have heard this phrase uttered by countless people in regards to their skill level, knowledge, or level of preparation. Yet, when I test them in meaningful ways, they can’t perform up to their own expectations.

I believe the phrase “good enough” is the highest form of complacency. Are you really good enough? Can you certify that:

  • You are prepared to win, armed only with the tools on your belt or within immediate reach and prior preparation, against a terrorist or terrorists.
  • You are prepared to win and have the tools at your IMMEDIATE disposal to use against one or more criminals who break into your home and are willing to commit crimes against you or your family.
  • You are prepared to win against a stronger opponent in a physical conflict because of your superior skill, knowledge, and appropriate tools.
  • You are prepared to win against an active shooter, nutcase, psychopath, hardened career-criminal, or gangbangers who may come at you four or five guys at a time.
  • You know how to fight from your home, your vehicle, on your feet, on your back, on the move in crowded urban or remote rural settings, day or night, with or without a light.

Without being extremely well trained, tested, and having your performance validated on a regular basis so that you have a true sense of what you can do under real-world conditions, you really don’t know where you are at in terms of skill and ability. That is why there is no such thing as “good enough.”


Most law enforcement agencies and personnel, as well as military and civilians, have a tendency to stay in their own world and measure skill and training levels within their own organization or against a few outside organizations of similar mission type. They generally set their own standards, many of which reflect convenience rather than real-world performance.

They hide what they do from the general public and will not test themselves in front of or against others where they have a chance of looking bad or performing poorly. They perceive themselves to be highly trained and fail to allow for objective testing and validation. We call this mindset “institutionalization,” where people live within a particular framework of thinking and operating and exclude or disregard others who are not from their organization or occupation.

Cops are not the only ones with this dangerous mindset. I have seen many competition shooters with the same affliction, confusing skill with an understanding of gunfight tactics and the mindset needed to fight for your life. Don’t get me wrong, I love competitive shooting but it is only part of an effective system of training for the gunfight.

The danger of living within this mindset is that you start to think of yourself as being superior to others. The reality is that there is a large number of individuals who are as good, or better than you, when it comes to skills and abilities. Many are better prepared to win and practice far more than most cops–they simply don’t choose to be cops or military personnel as an occupation.

When I ask a law enforcement officer or SWAT team member what percentage of the best in the world he believes himself to be in terms of shooting skill, what I generally hear is “Oh… probably 75 to 85 percent or so.” When I ask if they feel they are well trained and prepared they almost always respond in the affirmative.

Unfortunately the average police officer, with notable exceptions, is far closer to a 40 to 55 percent performance level, based on testing that I have conducted over the years. When tested in FOF and tactical shooting environments, hit probability is poor to mediocre, response time lags, and performance is way below where they think of themselves as being. Yet, many officers think of themselves as being “advanced” in terms of training and experience.

“Feel Good” Training

Training that has no stringent testing procedures or validation process against a high standard of performance is designed as an information-only course of instruction. It may make you feel good but it doesn’t really test your skills and let you see where you actually are in terms of skill level.

Unless you have been measured against a meaningful standard, under duress, with meaningful consequences, in conditions that represent what you might actually face, you really don’t know where your skills and capabilities lie.

This is how cops and others get killed. They think that since they have several years of experience, serve on a SWAT team, or have been to a few schools that they are going to “out tactical” the other guy based on their superior training and experience.

Then they don’t train for weeks or months on end, don’t practice and live by the training they have received, don’t set meaningful standards and commit to them, don’t make the time to prepare mentally and physically, and don’t make a commitment to being the best they can be, each and every day. In other words, they coast. Yet, they continue to utter those fateful words.... ”good enough”

Prepare to Win

Paul “Bear” Bryant said that “it’s not the will to win that matters… everyone has that. It is the will to prepare to win that matters.” If you are ready to leave behind “feel good” training and have the will to prepare to win, here is what I would recommend for you:

  • Determine your actual skill level. When you can perform as good as or better than those around you, it is time to get out of the pond and find bigger fish.
  • Make training fun. Find ways to enjoy shooting while challenging yourself.
  • Competitive shooting or competitive martial arts such as MMA is an excellent way to train yourself to perform under pressure.
  • Stop making excuses when you don’t do as well as you would like. Stay objective and learn from your mistakes.
  • Find ways to challenge and test yourself.
  • Keep a journal of your skill level and training that you have done. Make a habit of keeping it updated.
  • Set meaningful performance goals with measurable objectives.
  • Make training a daily and weekly habit. Both physical and mental training benefit the most from daily application.
  • Stop looking for something for nothing. Get off the internet forums and start going out and attending real training.
  • Attend training outside your agency or area. Better yet, go out of state and immerse yourself for a week in a training environment.
  • Train with the best. The best in the world go to the best shooters and trainers in the world to get better. This process is followed by all the top military and law enforcement teams (Delta force, Navy Seals, etc.)
  • Pay for your own training, ammunition, and travel costs associated with training. Don’t wait for your department to send you. Learned helplessness is a victim mentality. Besides, you can write it off on your taxes.

It is time to change from the mindset of “good enough” to the commitment to “be the best I can be.” Don’t accept less than your best effort when you train. Live your training on the street, carry your tools with you, and respect your opponents.

Those who prepare the most, win most of the time.

Ron Avery

Co-Founder, Tactical Performance Center

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