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Old January 17, 2008, 06:21 PM   #1
Covert Mission
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Egomaniacal instructors

Well, I don't visit here often anymore, after being a regular for years. Here's a question to rattle the cage though, and stimulate some discussion:

Why does it seem like more than a few "name" instructors have inordinately large, or even massive, egos? (And no, I won't name names...they or the readers may know who I am talking about, and I am not here to "call out" any one individual). This observation is based both on personal experiences and numerous firsthand accounts from highly trusted sources, some of them very capable mil and LE vets and trainers themselves, who have remained humble. And yes, I took Psych 101, so I know that a healthy ego is important. Not talking about that.

Some of the Egos of whom I speak have respectable and in some cases remarkable credentials from past (or current) lives as active duty military or LE, including special operations and SWAT. That’s excellent…bravo. Giving credit where it's due, I commend you and thank you for your public service and service to country. You are the ones George Orwell referred to as (in paraphrase), the "rough men doing violence on our behalf so that we may sleep peacefully in our beds.” That said, there are tens of thousands of other mil and LE veterans who also were/are excellent in their respective, also very important, roles.

That experience and those credentials doesn't make you a God though, except maybe in your own mind, or the ultimate word on anything, imo. No one trainer is The Oracle of Tactical Truth to whom I will pay obeisance. If you are good or excellent in your post-SF/SWAT/LE role as a trainer, and can share that experience in an effective, powerful , respectful way without condescending to, belittling, or otherwise denigrating your students (or other good and proven instructors) or without otherwise being an arse, I will come to learn from you gratefully and part with my hard earned dollars and precious time.

I know and have trained with several "name" instructors who have had excellent, distinguished LE or Mil careers and now train us, Joe Lunchbox and Jane Minivan. They are humble, self-deprecating, appreciative, courteous and professional, though maybe not household names because they don't self-promote obsessively. One of these shakes his head upon hearing some of the horror stories about these egomaniacal trainers, peers in nearly every way except for attitude (and who may even lack something in teaching ability or personal skill, though they probably wouldn’t admit it). The opinion of this one is: "It's ridiculous and silly. Who needs to act that way? These guys put their pants on one leg at a time, I've done the same stuff in my past life, and until they can demonstrate their water walking, I'm not in awe." Maybe the problem is that they believe their own PR, which might be autobiographical and even embellished at times.

One source reported a story of a "big name" trainer (who was renting this instructor's home range for the weekend) who said loudly and with disgust within earshot of the resident ROs and others (and this after volunteering himself to help afterward to clean up the range and his own class’s mess himself), "I didn't know I was coming here to be a range n*gger." Exact quote. The range’s owner, who was amazed, was chastised later by a third, outside instructor (who had apparently heard a complaint from the “star”) for letting the "star" clean up after himself, by saying essentially "Don't you know who this guy is?" This "star" is a well known trainer and author who is published and touted in the gun rags and is a so-called guru in the tactical teaching and defensive pistol community. Another self-impressed trainer, on another day, said to my friend's RO who was standing close by respectfully listening to the Ego talk, "Get the f*ck away from my stuff." Sounds more like cliche movie stars behaving badly.

I believe, and sociologists support the theory, that we are living in an age of rampant and increasing narcissism and egotism. It makes life very unpleasant to deal with people like this. (As an aside, in my earlier 1st career I was acknowledged for a time as being near top of my profession on a national level but didn’t I consider that, or myself, as being any more special than anyone else who did their job well and worked hard (like my favorite plumber), something I always respect. Especially talented people who remain humble.

In that career I met people from all walks of life who were respected and recognized for being very talented, among the best at what they did. Some were celebrities and quite a few were actually truly famous. Some were nice people, many were not (usually the temporarily or newly famous were not, and the longtime famous were nicer). I don’t have the time of day for the jerks, beyond what I must tolerate for some required purpose, and even less if I am paying for their services. This old adage is true, I think: You can tell the character of a person by how they treat the waiter (or cab driver, or bodyguard, or clerk, or…). Certainly you can tell by how they treat their paying customers, and worthy colleagues.

Get over yourselves, egomaniacs.

Last edited by Covert Mission; January 18, 2008 at 01:52 AM.
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Old January 17, 2008, 07:19 PM   #2
Erik
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One way I attempt to seperate the crowd is looking for statements to the effect that they are teaching "A way, not THE way."

And there's no excuse for the behavior you cited.
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Old January 17, 2008, 07:22 PM   #3
Avenger11
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And the purpose of this thread is WHAT??
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Old January 17, 2008, 07:41 PM   #4
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This purpose is this, if I have to explain:

Caveat emptor...buyer beware. Most of us have both limited time and training dollars, and it is very frustrating to spend them on someone who proves to be an unpleasant egomaniac, even if their instruction is adequate. It certainly dampens my enthusiasm.

Fortunately, we have the web (errornet, disinformation cowpath, whatever other nicknames it may have earned through its known pitfalls) as a way to try and research and hopefully validate that a chosen instructor has a good rep, is professional and knowledgeable AND a good teacher, and would be worth one's time and money.

In addition, maybe instructors who have developed an earned rep regarding their ego problem will read this or posts like it and reflect on adjustments they may need to make in their "program". Many of them are skilled and talented, and could otherwise provide a positive experience. That may be wishful thinking; I know, I was married to a highly narcissistic person who still is, in spite of being called out for it! It's a pathology.

On the other hand, some people like being abused or condescended to (to be near The Master), and are even willing to pay for it. I call that masochism! YMMV

Erik: I agree..there is always more than one good way.
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Old January 17, 2008, 08:45 PM   #5
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It has been my experience, having been both inside and outside the training instructor environment, that those who have the most "ego" are actually those who have the LEAST verified experience. "Warriors" who have never been in military uniform, much less a war. "Gunfight Survivors" who count shooting dogs as a gunfight, and have never fought a BG one on one. LE "trainers" who never worked for an agency larger than 10 officers, yet push ther LE experience. Those instructors really have only one thing to sell, that image they have cultivated.

My $.02.
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Old January 17, 2008, 09:05 PM   #6
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David: I agree that there may be a good number of those out there. That's even worse! HBTHDT (haven't been there, haven't done that, but will fake it).

I still contend--in fact know--that some of those to whom I refer HAVE been there and done it, which is wonderful but doesn't justify being arrogant and/or obnoxious. I prefer the real deal "quiet professional" who doesn't have to blow their own horn all the time. I heard that Jim Cirillo, RIP, was one like that, or that's what I recall reading anyway.

Humility seems in short supply in the world at large, so if it's short in the small tactical orbit, I guess it's no surprise.

ps: I have enjoyed many of your posts in the past, fwiw
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Old January 17, 2008, 09:12 PM   #7
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Quote:
I still contend--in fact know--that some of those to whom I refer HAVE been there and done it, which is wonderful but doesn't justify being arrogant and/or obnoxious.
Yes, you are right, there are those out there that have BTDT and have the ego problem. Perhaps they haven't BT as much or DT as much as the quiet pros??
Quote:
I heard that Jim Cirillo, RIP, was one like that, or that's what I recall reading anyway.
Yes. I only met Jim a couple of times, but he was a very quiet, confident man.
Quote:
ps: I have enjoyed many of your posts in the past, fwiw
Thank you! That is something always nice to know.
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Old January 18, 2008, 08:19 AM   #8
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I took psych 101 too, and am with the O.P. on this one. The B@S@$$ mindset may be appropriate for military training, but even there it ain't needed in all cases. Case in point our Company Commander in NRTC Orlando. A real bad man, hardly ever raised his voice and only launched into the tough guy tirades for comic relief.

Only ran across a few spec ops types in the Navy, quiet men they were. Worked with two high speed low drag types in private security, once again, quiet humble souls.

Actually only ever knew two loudmouths who could back it up. One a force recon Gunny who was just that way, another a cab driver in Atlantic City. Both acted like total posers, yet both were verifiable warriors.

Maybe some instructors think it is expected of them. The problem for me is, as soon as the act comes out I discount the actor. Not always the right thing to do but usually is.
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Old January 18, 2008, 08:47 AM   #9
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Firearms Trainer Egos

We need to try NOT to reject VALID information just because it's delivered by someone with less than an ideal personality. I think we can all see the truth in the old adage, "it AIN'T brag IF you can back it up!"

I've seen Jim Cirillo and his son, "Little Jim", a former police officer who frequently accompanied his dad when he took his shooting classes on the road, parody a certain other "name" trainer for being too pompous, but when it came down to whether or not this particular individual knew what he was talking about, they both agreed that he, indeed, DID!
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Old January 18, 2008, 11:26 AM   #10
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I don't know why an instructor would act that way. I just know I don't ever want to receive instruction from an ego-maniac.

Could those of you who have taken classes from a non-ego-maniac, would you kindly post the names of the good non-psycho intructors, so that we know this info for the future?
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Old January 18, 2008, 11:46 AM   #11
Covert Mission
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Captain38:

You liked Cirillo I take it. I wish I'd had the chance to learn from him.

I think it's appropriate to politely disagree (or agree to disagree) with another instructors point of view, or maybe even to call BS if you honestly believe it's dangerous or incompetent and can articulate why, and remain professional doing so. You can also "damn someone with faint (or no) praise."

I appreciate those who have BTDT...I love hearing and learning from those great war stories. I just don't like them with too heavy a dose of pomposity or ego. That's just me.

Here's an EM from a friend who read this post. He's an ex-Marine, a firearms trainer too, and a good guy:

"Hey, Ego Maniacal Tactical Training (EMTT) - is a fact of life in the firearms training business. One needs a healthy ego but too much of it sprayed on your students and ROs is unprofessional. I have seen it and survived it. I have also seen one egomaniac back down when faced with the prospect of a bad course review or students walking out on his class. I knew Jim Cirillo briefly in the mid 90's. He was a down-to-earth guy for all his experience...BTW, this ego thing extends into other fields of endeavor. I've seen and been in non-firearms classes where the instructor's arrogance far outweighed his/her ability to teach. In one case it was so bad that only three out of a class of 16 showed up the second day."

Last edited by Covert Mission; January 18, 2008 at 02:23 PM.
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Old January 18, 2008, 06:17 PM   #12
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Some instructers are full of crap and try to cover it up with swagger.

Some have alot of knowledge but a lousy instructional technique.

Some are just egomaniacs in general and that's completely independent of their experience or qualifications

I will say this though. When you are in charge of a training evolution with potentially life threatenin consequences and your students' previous training and discipline levels are an unkown factor, maintaining complete control over the environment can prevent a tragedy. People can be really stupid, and assuming that they know what they are doing can cause fatal accidents. I've seen students do really retarded things and relaxing control of the environment is a bad idea until you know the level of professionalism of the students.
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Old January 18, 2008, 07:23 PM   #13
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Covert,
Sounds like you wouldn't be happy with any instructor, because you already know it all! Ego is not a bad thing if you recall the Freudian teachings in Psychology 101. Ego to me means pride and self confidence in your command of a given subject. When it becomes arrogant, self-serving, and condescending, then it shows insecurity and immaturity on the part of the instructor or the student. I have alot of respect for those that are willing to put in the time and effort to impart their knowledge to others. Have little respect for those that just want to whine!
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Old January 18, 2008, 08:35 PM   #14
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Avenger: That's funny!

How did you possibly infer that from my post? I'm talking about instructors' attitude and professionalism. I never referred once to the quantity or type of instruction I've had, which is more than a little, with more than a few instructors. In spite of that training, I have tons to learn and old stuff to re-learn and practice.

Ex: I just did a training module with SIMS the other day, doing building clearing with my agency's LT in charge of the tac team. Team movement, bad guy role players shooting back, hostages etc. Totally an eye opener, and it made me realize what I didn't know or don't know well (even though I'd done numerous non-SIMS drills like it), so that at least now I know more of what I don't know. I have lots more to learn, always.

As my former sensei used to say in class--he was a (8th Dan?) shihan jujutsu man-- "Sometimes a teacher, always a student."

Everyone needs a healthy ego to survive and excel. Too much is, well...too much!

Last edited by Covert Mission; January 19, 2008 at 06:22 PM.
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Old January 18, 2008, 09:20 PM   #15
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One of my favorite quotes from my father, a war veteran; "self praise stinks".
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Old January 18, 2008, 09:31 PM   #16
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Quote:
Why does it seem like more than a few "name" instructors have inordinately large, or even massive, egos? (And no, I won't name names...they or the readers may know who I am talking about, and I am not here to "call out" any one individual). This observation is based both on personal experiences and numerous firsthand accounts from highly trusted sources, some of them very capable mil and LE vets and trainers themselves, who have remained humble. And yes, I took Psych 101, so I know that a healthy ego is important. Not talking about that.
Interesting thread. One of the things I have noticed is that most of the instructors that I have had for "defense" or "combat" shooting have usually included somewhere in their introduction that they are _________ (various descriptors, but "egomaniacal" covers it pretty well. Then they usually justify their position by saying something like it is common in the gun instruction profession. In every case but one, the instructor's egomaniacal description has been spot on. In the one case where it wasn't the guy wasn't actually egomaniacal at all. I think he just said it so that he would sound like all the other instructors.

I really love it when instructors go into detail how their instruction is superior to X schools/instructors, or their techniques or tactics are superior. As it turns out for the traditional schools, they teach about 90% the same stuff with variations on emphasis of key points. The 10% difference is in the verbal perspectives and subtle differences. Of course, this doesn't apply to the specialty style schools that do point shooting, central axis relock, and bend over and fire between your legs ninja tactics.

One instructor, when he was about to run down one of his competion, would start of his monologue on the competition with, "Well God bless so and so. You know he would tell you...." The opening of "God bless" basically meant that was his was of being politically correct and not openly calling the other instructor an idiot, moron, or incompetent. However, the point was clear anyway.

Covert, since you are a former sensei, you might appreciate this. One instructor I had talked about all of his training with several dojos and how he had developed an almost 6th sense to know what was going on around him. Talking about development of supernatural powers is pretty egomaniacal in my book. He even claimed to have something of "field" around him in which he could sense field disruptions...which explained his 6th sense. So I walked up behind him several times in class and stood within inches of him until his 6th sense would kick in, which was usually when he would accidentally bump into me or somebody would point at me or speak to me. With all that 6th sense, he never understood he was being called out on his claims.

Along similar lines, I have enjoyed toying with instructors who claim to be in condition yellow 100% of the time and how they maintain constant situational awareness. Talk about your egomaniacs. This one particular instructor had about 8 of us on the firing line and giving us firing commads and then chewed us out when none of us realized that he had become a threat because he had drawn a knife. We weren't aware and we needed to be shown our incompetence. I don't know about you, but I never considered my instructors as a threat, but several times over the two days, when he would be chatting with a student, I would stand behind him with a drawn knife until somebody, usually the person he was speaking with, would point out that I was behind him. This guy didn't like me when the class was done, but for the stupid stunt he pulled and for which he yelled at us, I just figured I needed to learn how a real professional maintains condition yellow total situational awareness all the time. What I learned was that it was a slow process and that it involves having somebody else tell you what is going on behind you.

I have spent a lot of money with egomaniacal instructors and after a few classes under my belt, their posturing has started to seem very childish to me and I have no problem with trying to validate their amazing claims. Its my money being spent.
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Old January 18, 2008, 10:03 PM   #17
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I could probably count all the egomaniac instructors I have ever met on one hand. I would need a pretty good sized notebook to write out the names of all the good-natured, friendly, funny, highly talented instructors I have met.

I don't even have a clue who you could be talking about. The chumps usually don't last long as instructors except in some police departments that don't have the manpower or cash to train or hire a new one, and even then it's pretty rare to run across a real rube.
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Old January 19, 2008, 11:38 AM   #18
Covert Mission
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DoubleNaught: good thoughts, imo.

OldBill: They are out there in good numbers, I believe, but more importantly, some of the most notable big egos are also big names in the firearms training business...you draw your own conclusions as to which came first.

This egomaniac is everywhere around us, I believe. I just point it out here specifically relevant to firearms training, which can be expensive. I want to spend my money with the right people. FWIW.
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Old January 19, 2008, 05:11 PM   #19
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Instead of naming the ones with the ego problems, how about a list of those who are down to earth in this thread?
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Old January 19, 2008, 05:38 PM   #20
Covert Mission
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Good idea. I will put one forth; in my own experience a very professional, talented instructor and a gentleman: Pat Goodale, of Practical Firearms Training http://www.pgpft.com

with this disclaimer: I have worked with Pat as an RO, and as his employee in another venture. I built and maintain his website. We are friends also, in no small part because I respect him and how he does business and treats people, both on and off the range. His instruction is excellent, and I get no money for endorsing him. I wouldn't endorse him otherwise...I'm not a paid lobbyist.

Last edited by Covert Mission; January 19, 2008 at 06:19 PM.
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Old January 19, 2008, 05:57 PM   #21
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I would love to hear praise for "the real deal" instructors!
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Old January 19, 2008, 06:02 PM   #22
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Egomaniacal probably isn't the best word to describe those whom you are talking about. Condescending or rude perhaps. One can be an egomaniac or even an egotist without being rude or condescending to students or others. To achieve a high level of success requires a strong ego and sense of self-confidence. It is a fine line between confidence and arrogance and it usually isn't the possessor who decides what side of the line he falls on. That doesn't excuse rude behavior however.

In my experience, it is former LE and Military who are the worst. They tend to teach like they are teaching a class of recruits. That is precisely the reason our company got the contract to teach at Bass Pro Shops. They didn't want that type of atmosphere.

Oddly enough, the best shooters in the world usually put on the best classes (whether they have the fanciest facility or not) and can outshoot all of the so called "tactical" instructors.

The type of incidents you describe are just plain poor manners and lack of professionalism.
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Old January 19, 2008, 10:33 PM   #23
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How about this thought. Those who know something can teach it. Those who don't know and can't teach yell at their students for not learning.

FWIW, I believe ex-military instructors are dangerous, whether teaching police or civilian firearms classes. Bless the military, and I support our troops, but they acquire a "them and us" mindset, where everyone not in "our" uniform is a target to be shot. If they can't leave that behind, their ideas and their training will be very bad for a cop or an armed civilian.

Jim
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Old January 19, 2008, 11:27 PM   #24
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Well, having met some of the 'big name' IPSC shooters/celebrities at Second Chance, only two(other than Dick Davis) stand out as the least bit friendly or classy. Ayoob is one. Miculek the other. Not one of the rest of them would even talk to the other shooters.
Mr. Ayoob sat down with myself and my buddy one afternoon and attempted to start a conversation. We were kind of shocked/awed and didn't say a word. My much belated apologies to Mr. Ayoob.
The next year, my buddy beat Mr. Miculek in a man on man shoot off(long before he set the records). Mr. Miculek had his hand out in congratulations before my buddy knew he had won.
"...acquire a "them and us" mindset..." So do cops. Mind you, up here at least, most cops can't shoot worth beans. Most don't shoot for recreation and they don't want to.
Teaching anything technical requires a great deal of patience. It's very easy to forget that your students don't know the terminology or that they're there to learn it. Any instructor who yells and hollers shouldn't be teaching anybody, anything. Especially to neophytes.
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Old January 19, 2008, 11:46 PM   #25
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Well, having met some of the 'big name' IPSC shooters/celebrities at Second Chance, only two(other than Dick Davis) stand out as the least bit friendly or classy.
Having shot with them for years, I'd have to disagree. Most of them are friendly and classsy. Leatham, Enos, Shaw, Jarrett, McCormick, Koenig, Burner, Miculek are all first class individuals. Can't say the same for some of the new shooters and not for some of the "Tactical" crowd either.
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