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Pretending is Practising

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When the New Zealand Police reacted swiftly to last month’s terror attack in Christchurch, many of those officers came directly from a training session where they discussed active-shooter scenarios.

The training session was not a field-exercise. Officers did not run around a mock-building using flash-bangs and blank rounds. The training was more of gathering police or enforcement officials to discuss tactics and learn from one another.

In essence, it was pretend.

Pretend is a gross over-simplification. Yet I imagine their conversations went something along the lines of, “Pretend this happens…what should we do?”

Or, “In this pretend scenario…let’s discuss actions and implications…”

Within moments of receiving an emergency call-out, officers applied their “pretending” into a real-life situation.

A day of “pretend” was actually a day of practice.

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Pretending is Practising

I want to emphasize Pretending IS Practising.

When we gather a group of leaders to discuss conflict resolution or team leadership or role-play a customer service situation - our pretending is practicing.

When we use virtual reality to help customers pretend they’re using our products - their pretending is practising.

There is untold learning value in role-play. There is untold educational gain from picturing yourself applying training material.

Never underestimate the value of learning and “pretend.”


I am grateful to the New Zealand Police for their quick response.

I applaud their commitment to training. Their pretend practise saved lives.


What do you need to practise this week?

And what pretend situation can you utilise to practise your skills?