Think NegativeĀ 

As much as we might not want to do it, thinking about every possible negative outcome could be one of the most positive things we can do in this endeavor. Thinking about the firestarter that won’t fire start, the shotgun that goes click when we need a bang, or the right cross that lands perfectly on our opponent’s chin with no visible affect are not pleasant thoughts. However, having contingency plan upon contingency plan requires us to think of every possible negative, and plan a response. This form of mental gaming sets us up for a positive outcome as we’ve already considered every failure point. We can’t be surprised by something we’ve already planned to address should it show up. In this endeavor failing to plan is almost a guaranteed plan to fail. If it can go wrong it will. Mental gaming, the ‘what if’ game, allows to go through a process of mental rehearsal. There are many studies that show mental rehearsal decreases reaction time, and in this game time equals life so we’ll take all the time we can get. The only cost involved in mental rehearsal is time, and the payoff is eliminating failure so it’s to our benefit in every way to use the power of negative thinking.

“It turns out that the mental load of management is primarily around experiencing failure.
Actual failure, sure, but mostly potential failure. Imagining failure in advance. All the current things that could go wrong. And more important, the things you’re not doing that will be obvious oversights later. Our brains work overtime to cycle through these, to learn to see around corners, to have the guts to delegate without doing the work ourselves (even though that creates more imagined points of failure). Scan, touch, consider, analyze, repeat.” – Seth Godin

Top self protection trainer Mick Coup has talked and written quite a bit about the power of negative thinking. The book; “The Positive Power of Negative Thinkingā€ by Julie Norem dives into this subject as well. I would highly recommend reading everything you can find by Mick, and Julie on this topic. Playing the ‘what if’ game is crucial to predicting, preparing for and/or preventing problems long before they become an issue. It would appear we should spend some time thinking negative to guarantee ourselves a positive outcome.

Why Am I Working Out On The Range??

A few years ago a friend and I attended a very high energy, fun, and challenging shooting course. During the course we essentially did a CrossFit lite workout while shooting drills during each block of instruction. This was done in the form of various bodyweight exercises, sandbags, tire flips, sprints, and buddy carries which preceded each course of fire. I had a blast. Sitting in the car during the ride home I felt like I had been through fight prep workout. I was sore, covered in dirt, sunburnt, and mentally drained. I looked at my friend, and said dude this was a great class. He said, “What did we learn? All I could think is why am I working out on the range? I have a gym membership. I run miles every week. I came here to learn how to shoot better. All we did was workout, in between shooting. I didn’t really learn anything.”

At the time I chalked it up to him being a little salty because during one exercise he was having a hard time getting his hits. When he asked the instructor what he was doing wrong the instructor said, “watch your front sight. Sights and trigger man, that’s what you need to do.” My friend thought this was a less than stellar answer, and from that point forward he was just not into the class. Or so I thought. After some more conversation I realized he wasn’t butt hurt by the instructors lackluster coaching, he really wanted to know what I had learned? My response was that I can function well while in oxygen deficit, that if I execute my technique correctly I will still get my hits even if my arms, and/or legs have turned to mush. My biggest takeaway was to always trust my technique, the only times I struggled with making my hits was when I got ahead of myself, and didn’t focus on hitting my technical performance points. While he could see my points, he still thought he wasted his time at the class. I also could see his point which was; no amount of physical exhaustion would prepare one to perform optimally under duress. In his words, “it’s just not the same animal.”

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Burpees with a pullup at the top of the jump in between the course of fire? Sure, why not!

Fast forward a few years, and I’m talking to the same friend about a recent competition he participated in which involved a lot of running and gunning. He said, “I had a rough start but then I remembered your takeaway about trusting the technique, and focusing on the technique when you were tired. I started focusing on the front sight, trusting that it was where I needed it to be, and working the trigger. I did that, and ended up finishing in the top 5.” Sometimes when we take a class it might seem like we’re not getting much from the effort, and we might have to overcome a metric ton of internal resistance. We might even think this is a complete waste of our time and energy. However, sometimes we aren’t ready for the lesson yet. We need a little more experience, or the right circumstances to bring meaning, and value to the lessons we’re learning. Train and practice as often as you can, do the work, and trust the process. Educate yourself as much as possible through training and experience, which includes the classes or practices that feel like a waste. When the time is right, you’ll have the knowledge necessary to do what you need to do.