note: This article was originally published in May 2017, then lost in the site crash. I thought it appropriate and timely to reconstruct it for re-publication now. I took the liberty of some limited editing to improve grammar, readability, spelling, and content.
Initiative ’17 –
Of course like anyone with an exaggerated view of who they are, I had to come up with a catchy name for the project I am going to share with you. I wanted to make it sound cool, meaningful, and something that would stick in your mind. I hope that Initiative ’17 is just that.
I had to consider where to start Initiative ’17. I could be like every other prepper website and start talking about food storage, the top 10 ways to dry venison, how to feed a family of 12 from a 5-gallon bucket garden, what is the best…AR-15 or AK-47, or a thousand other topics. But, I didn’t like any of those options. I wanted something better, something that was directly related to making a real impact in lives. So I felt “mentality” was the best place to start.
As I gathered my initial thoughts I quickly realized that I was outlining two distinct areas; 1) balance in your life right now, 2) balance in your life in a post-event situation. And that is exactly what I wanted to accomplish…an impact now that is useful and an impact when survival may be your #1 priority.
Having a proper mindset during emergencies, disasters, and grid-down can be a tough thing to do. We all want to be able to focus our attention, skills, knowledge, and training into fixing problems and saving the day. But, are we too focused on a single problem or a single task to the point of tunnel vision (i.e. exclusion of everything else)?
At the other end of the spectrum we have complacency. Have we seen this all before, “this looks like and matches what happened two years ago”, “this mimics a training scenario we went through last year”, or “this is just another power outage.” So with a complacent mindset we just simply go through the motions or attacking the apparent problem and ignore the important aspects of what is actually happening around us.
All of that leads to proposing the solution to the “complacency vs. tunnel vision” contradiction. But first, we have to truly understand what we in-fact are talking about regarding complacency and tunnel vision.
There are multiple definitions of complacency, none of which are particularly complete/appropriate for this application. For this conversation let’s go with, complacency is the “state of satisfaction while being unaware of actual dangers.” Applying that to our prepper situation is relatively easy…we’re just fine with not understanding the dangers involved in what is actually happening around us. Notice I use the term “not understanding.” I am not referring to a person ignoring what they do see around them, which would imply a sense of willfulness (albeit stupidity). The difference is “awareness.” Complacency means you are not aware of the dangers vs. ignoring the dangers you do perceive.
Seeing the dangers and choosing to ignore them, willfully not taking action, is just plain stupidity. When it comes to stupidity I lose patience with people and for the most part I feel they get what they deserve. Yes, I know…not a very charitable outlook…I am trying to change that. Unfortunately, those same people all too often spread the hazardous fallout to those around them…innocents. At that point they are guilty of malevolence as well as incompetence.
So exactly how can you spot complacency? Ah, that can be tougher than it might seem at first glance. Confidence, swagger, and self-assurance can all be danger signs of complacency. But, those same attributes can also be a manifestation of a good leader to a degree. So how can you tell the difference? Humility.
Humility is the ability and willingness to be taught. So a good leader can possess those same three attributes that I just mentioned but they will also be open to external input from the situation and/or from people around them. And no, the people around them giving that input don’t necessarily have to be experts to gain the required audience with said leader. Actually, some of the best leaders I’ve ever known were able to seek out and listen to the youngest, newest, least experienced folks in their organization…and at times learn from them.
So what about the more experienced and well trained people providing input to a leader as well? There shouldn’t be any barrier to that either; the leader must be accessible both physically and emotionally. However, I’ve seen the absolute worst case scenario – a crowd of experts all agreeing with one another…and with their leader. Yeah, commonly referred to as “group think.” Here you usually have a strong leader, maybe even a competent leader. Then that leader has folks around them who they depend on to know what is happening. However, those that should be working diligently finding flaws in the leader’s plan and thinking or solutions, will agree with –or at least not object to– whatever the leader is proposing. Those advisors will then intentionally or unintentionally form a group opinion that agrees with the leader’s proposal.
Any plan that has an initial unanimous voice is probably not a plan that has been well thought out, and that plan will normally have a low probability of success.
Overcoming Complacency –
Without continuing to bore you to tears…how do you avoid complacency and group think? Free yourself from bias. And I am talking about bias in all its forms. And how do you best relieve yourself of bias? Situational Awareness (SA).
SA is best explained as… the acquisition of, the processing of, a state of, and taking action on knowledge. That knowledge comes from the environment around you…and your awareness of it.
Tunnel Vision –
Wow! You say that sounds great…we can focus on doing one thing and doing it well. However, it never works out that way. Why? Because the environment that we work in, or will find ourselves in during an emergency, disaster or grid-down, is commonly dynamic and hugely multi-faceted.
By limiting our vision of all the activity taking place in our setting we lose perspective, we lose awareness…we become ignorant. And, that ignorance is a void/vacuum. Aristotle once said “nature abhors a vacuum.” The same can be applied to this situation…if we too highly focus on a single objective we leave a vacuum in the entire area outside of our immediate focus. Since nature will find a way to fill that vacuum, failure will creep in to fill that void, normally before we ever realize it.
As I mentioned, the environment in which we will operate will be dynamic and complex. By narrowly focusing our actions we intentionally or unintentionally disregard all other areas. And those other areas are not benign.
Example: we are so highly focused on acquiring water that we ignore the threat of violence. And as we overly focus on acquiring water, the pressing threat of violence is ignored…much to our detriment. But once again, we don’t operate in this environment as a single entity. Therefore, those that become the victims of our exclusionary vision may be our closest loved ones or fellow preppers.
Overcoming Tunnel Vision –
As it applies to our disaster-free current environment, how do we avoid tunnel vision? Balance.
Among the various definitions of balance is, “a means of judging or deciding.” Kind of like a cheat sheet if you will. A guide to assist us in making both judgements of the situation and deciding on how to act in response. Who could object to that!?!
In our situation we can view it in two ways; pre-event and post-event. Event being the initial second that some action has occurred or at least started.
Pre-event balance can be best described with a visual aid…
Post-event balance is similar, a visual aid is the best method to convey the concept…
If you are complacent you will not be able to make informed and timely decisions. If you have tunnel vision you will not be able to know what is happening around you other than what you are intensely focused on. That lack of knowledge from either will preclude you from being able to make timely and intelligent decisions. Both complacency and tunnel vision can kill you…or those around you.
If you can maintain reasonably decent Situational Awareness you have a great chance of understanding your environment and making decisions that will go a long ways towards survival, if not actual thriving. If you can balance your judgements and decisions both pre- and post-event then your actions will most likely be appropriate for the situation and you will be less likely to miss important events/activity around you. But, for that balance to be correct for any given situation, then the tool(s) you use as the basis of judgments and decisions must be high-quality. No, the tool(s) need not be perfect…just good enough.
You don’t need to be perfect during an emergency, disaster, or grid-down event…just good enough. To be “good enough” you have to avoid complacency and you have to avoid tunnel vision.
- Initiative ’17 – Part #1: Complacency vs. Tunnel Vision
- Initiative ’17 – Part #2: Training, Experience, Knowledge, and Wisdom
- Initiative ’17 – Part #3: Prepared to Lead
- Initiative ’17 – Part #4: Leader’s Intent
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