Think; part two

In part one we talked about approaching self protection with thoughtfulness and a realistic mindset based on probabilities/possibilities. Part one covered the proactive aspects of this thing we do, in this post I’d like to talk about the reactive aspects. Whether it’s a natural disaster or a violent criminal assault we will be reacting to the circumstances we find ourselves in, this post is about stacking the odds in our favor.

If we think about the way things work in a crisis we usually find some form of the following; Situation dictates strategy which dictates tactics. Tactics help us select tools. Problems seem to arise when we get these things out of order and try to force things to work. We have to keep in mind that for the most part we react to the circumstance. Yes I know reaction is less than optimal but if we were able to avoid the situation completely we wouldn’t need tactics, or tools. We also have to acknowledge that sometimes despite our best efforts some things in life are unavoidable.

Let’s think back to probabilities and look at something I call the “what-if” game. Some call it crisis rehearsal. In a nutshell what I want to do is examine my day to day activities and ask myself; what if? An example might be our daily commute. Most of us drive to and from work as well as use a vehicle to run any errands. While driving run scenarios in your head. What if a tire blows out? What if the driver in front of me suddenly brakes? What if someone steps off the sidewalk in front of me? Or what if something simple like the car in front of me at a stoplight stalls or experiences mechanical failure? These are scenarios we should have thought through multiple times and have established standard responses. The first time my tire blows out while driving 70mph on the expressway is not the first time I should have thought about what I’m going to do to safely slow and move my car out of the traffic lane without wiping out and/or causing an accident.

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Let’s look at another example. While you are at work or going about your day, do you know more than one exit from any building you are in? We know how we entered the building so that is one exit point, but do we know of another exit should the main entry/exit be obstructed? The first thing we should do upon entering a space is look for another way out of said space. If it’s a multiple story building elevators don’t count we need to know where the stairwells are located. You might ask what I’m concerned about? Why do I need to know multiple exits? A simple reason would be natural disasters happen. Earthquakes, fires, storms, even a vehicle accident in which a vehicle, (or several), get pushed into the building are all things that occur regularly. Knowing how to exit the building from somewhere other than where a vehicle is now parked is always a plus. Think about what happens during a fire alarm, whether it is a real fire or someone just pulled the fire alarm as a prank. People rush to the the main entrance, which is now clogged with people. Knowing an alternative exit or two will be valuable in those moments. Having rehearsed this in our head via the “what if” game prior to an actual incident will help us respond quickly as we already have a plan now it’s just a matter of working that plan, and being adaptable enough to adjust our approach on the fly until we resolve the situation and are no longer in danger. An additional benefit of playing the “what if” game frequently is we become more adept at planning on the fly should our presets fail.

Our backup plan needs a backup plan and the best way to figure all that out is to “what if” our daily activities. We should think about everything we do until we reach a point where we have thought about everything that can happen and have a plan in place. Apply this same process to everything you do. People might say we are over-thinking things, making it too complicated. I disagree. We have to analyze the situation so we know what are our best options strategically and tactically. The time to do this analysis is not after we are in the middle of the situation. Only by thinking about everything we might face can we come up with responses that can then be rehearsed mentally and, if possible physically multiple times until they become automatic. Like anything it’s a lot of work in the beginning but over time it becomes second nature and a part of our everyday consciousness. Some folks might say, this is no way to live, all keyed up and dialed in constantly. On the contrary, I live in a fairly laid back state of mind because I’ve already done the work. I know exactly what I will do if or when A, B, or C happens as well as knowing what I will do if my initial planned response fails. There is a difference between living in fear or worry and being prepared. I prefer to be prepared. In part three of this series we will talk about out thinking another person. This presents some unique challenges as we are now dealing with malevolent intent.

Do no harm, do know harm. Be dangerous.