21 November 2016

Mental before physical

The other day I got a message from a buddy on Facebook.  He is a policeman in NJ and I worked with him when we were both Combat Skills instructors for the US Air Force Air Adviser Program at Ft Dix NJ.  He said he was contacting instructors across the country for advice on putting together a 40-hour control tactics instructor course.  I said I would think about it and get back to him, but in the meantime, I would suggest a block on mental and physical readiness.  He wrote back saying that most of the time people either have it or they don't.  That is often true, but it can be redefined.

Anyone including military, law enforcement, and the Citizenry who by profession or just choice chooses to prepare for interpersonal violence that they know not the time and place of must develop proper mindset. Many incorrectly believe that the fighting mindset is the foundation of that mindset.

In law enforcement, we talk about going making sure you go home at the end of your shift.  That is important, but it is more important for every person to arrive home at the end of their day as mentally, spiritually, and physically whole as possible.  It all comes down to longevity and balance.  If you make it home but are so wound up that you cannot enjoy your family and friends along with what you have worked for, why bother?

To stay mentally sharp and physically ready, you must adopt a when/then and not an if/then mindset.  You need to learn to use your intuition and past experiences to anticipate events and people's actions.  Find efficient and economical solutions to challenges you face every day from rude and passive aggressive coworkers to what time to go to the gym to be able to get on equipment you want when you want it.

In Steven Covey's best-selling book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, my favorite chapter is #3 "Putting first things first."  He discusses the four quadrants that I will bastardize here for my own purposes.

Quadrant 1- Crisis (both real and manufactured)
Quadrant 2- Handling things to prevent them from becoming a crisis.
Quadrant 3- Being interrupted by other people's manufactured crisis that takes you away from quadrant 2.  Basically distracted by others.
Quadrant 4- Time wasters such as TV and Facebook.

Almost all crises are manufactured by the action or inaction of an individual or group.  Sage advice says to change the things you can and recognize the things that you can't.  The same goes here.  Not only do I try to spend the majority of my time in quadrant 2, but I prefer to associate with others that do the same.  These people are seldom caught off guard or taken by surprise.  As mentioned, they use their intuition and experience to predict uses and already have strategies in place to deal with them.

The majority of our society not only lives in quadrant 1, but they are addicted to it.  There are things that they routinely face that they treat as if they have never experienced it before.   They respond with emotion, usually rooted in fear.  They become fixated and fail to see the options that surround them.  If this is the way they live their daily lives, how would you expect them to respond to something they have never encountered before?

Sometimes to teach someone something else that works for you, you have to step back and unravel why and how it works for you.  To me, every day starts off with me running back taking the ball.  The only thing I have my eye on in the end zone as I concentrate on holding on the ball.  Problems and challenges big and small are defenders trying to keep me from that end zone.  Some are big and slow and some are small and fast.  My head is on a swivel to keep me from being blindsided.  Some I can outrun,  some I just spin out of their grasp, and some I just rush through.  I do my best to stay in the middle of the field and not run or get knocked out of bounds.  If I do get tackled or blindsided, I do my best to keep my knees off the ground.  If the ball is fumbled, I do my best to recover it.  If I get tackled or lose the ball, I don't dwell on it because I will get the ball again tomorrow.  I don't let bad carries stack up on my mind because it would take my mind off the next carry.  You have got to be resilient and willing to take the ball.  The more you carry the ball the better you learn to anticipate and make choices based on intuition and build successful habits.

Personally, I am a very methodical person.  When I was doing drug interdiction on RT 40 in Maryland between Baltimore and Philly, I stopped lots of cars.  From choosing the location of the stop to the way I approached the car, I always did it the exact same way.  I was the one who set the tempo of the stop.  I created the lines and they were very narrow.  When a suspect crossed them in the smallest way, it set off my alarm bells.  The more familiarity you have with an environment or a practice, the faster you can identify things that are not right.  You have to be confident, calm, and ready to respond to what you are hearing, seeing, and feeling.

If your personality is one of turbulence and looks like stormy waters, how can you notice even if a boulder is dropped into it?  But if you are still and calm like a lake, even the smallest pebble creates massive ripples.  My Sensei called this "Calm in mind, swift in action".

Whether it is the police or the citizenry, we are obsessed with new toys and technology and ignore the cultivation of the greatest wonder the world has ever known, the human mind.  Without it, nothing is possible. With it, nothing is impossible.

All the physical skills in the world cannot make up for a poor mindset.  What should we look for in police and ourselves?  People naturally recognize challenges a mile away and immediately form nonphysical options.  This habit allows them to recognize when force is the only option and to not hesitate in its use.

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