Initiative ’17 – Part #2: Training, Experience, Knowledge, and Wisdom

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.

This is the second article in a series called Initiative ’17, Part #1 appeared yesterday (click here to read it). This initiative is designed to provide you some of, what I consider to be, the most valuable information a prepper could learn. It includes the “mentality” of surviving emergencies, disasters, and grid-down events. Most of life’s challenges are mainly mental. If we have properly prepared our minds we can survive just about anything that life throws at us. Or, at the very least, make it just a little easier to deal with.

I can’t tell you, or even predict, what you might get out of this article…or the whole series. But, I believe there are some very valuable nuggets of knowledge laying around in every paragraph. I will leave it up to you which ones you seize and which ones you leave behind.

Not that many years ago I was in a heated discussion with an individual in the fire service. He was challenging a decision that was made. Rather than make a cohesive and informed argument against the decision he simply used the “I have almost 30 years’ experience and I know what I am talking about!” The problem is…the guy is a moron…his lack of competent decision making is well known. My response to him, in front of the group, “Yup, one year of screwing up, repeated 29 more times.”

Yeah, I can be the life of the party. But, the point I was making then, and the same I am making now, is that experience doesn’t equal competence. In actuality, experience at times can truly work against us being successful. Falling back on your experience alone can induce both complacency and tunnel vision. In can also drag us down into delusions of grandeur.

So what are we looking for?

We are looking for balance once again. We need all the pieces of this pie; training, experience, knowledge, and wisdom.

Years ago a highly respected SpecOps trainer said “Training matters!” and he has also maintained, “Training trumps gear.” Of course he was right on both accounts. And, I believe him to have nailed the #1 priority of all preppers. Without training no fancy gear or food storage will make a difference…a person will still be too stupid to survive. Yeah, kind of harsh, I know. But, I am right.

There are times when I hear that experience means more than training. Really? German soldiers were some of the most experienced men to ever enter the battle field in the 19th and 20th centuries. Yet, Germany was twice defeated…rather badly each time.  And a case could be made that they were some of the best trained soldiers in the world…and they still got beat. So then it boils down to knowledge and wisdom. In both of those areas the German leadership and their military really sucked! They lacked accurate knowledge of the capability of the USA and our ability to mobilize massive amounts of men and material. They also lacked the wisdom in going against virtually the rest of the world, including an emerging super-power.

So where is that balance I spoke of?

I am not 100% sure. The more I research it and then ponder it, I think that balance is different for each person. Each person is in a different place in their life, in a different prep situation, different prepper mission, etc. Hence, each person has their own balance of those four pie pieces. But, let’s not have that relatively minor point hold up the discussion of each piece.

Introduction –

For our conversation training is defined as “the process of acquiring knowledge and skills.”

Does that appear to be an oversimplification? Does it appear to be inaccurate? Why is “process” mentioned?

Defining training as a simple action is appropriate because it is simply an acquisition process. And the process does combine the acquisition of both knowledge and skills. Turn it around…without a valid and reliable process you can follow, how can you obtain quality knowledge and skills? By osmosis?

So let’s agree that…

Training is a process by which you obtain knowledge and skills.

That implies that training is important, virtually vital, as a prepper. Agreed? We will come back to that in a minute. Let’s move on to the next item…knowledge.

You want to have an interesting experience…go look up all the different definitions of “knowledge.” The various definitions are all over the place. None of them really meet what I think the definition should be in the context of this article. That being the case, I will make up my own definition that I believe is just a valid as any of the “official “versions.

Knowledge is the information that is gathered through training and/or experience.

My first mother-in-law, a truly wonderful and spiritual person, taught me one day a very valuable lesson. She told me “You can learn two things from every experience and person…what to do and what not to do.” I swear by that simple, but meaningful, statement! The point is, you can learn from anything and anybody…some of it good, some of it bad…but you can learn.

Next up is experience. Once again I find all the main stream definitions somewhat lacking in any meaningful context to prepping and this article. It is very frustrating to not find a single existing and appropriate definition. So here goes my version…

Experience is an event where actions reinforce what you know or expose what you don’t know.

In other words, experience can reinforce your knowledge or expose your lack thereof. But, then it can become a learning opportunity to acquire knowledge that you didn’t previously have. And just for clarification, I am not talking about good experiences or bad experiences. I am simply referring to all experiences.

Now let’s touch on wisdom.

The standard definitions really do a pretty decent job of defining wisdom, I was impressed. I liked several but I wanted to ensure that I related something plain, simple, accurate, and applicable to our discussion here. Here is the result… 

Wisdom is the ability to make good judgements.

What I noticed about that definition once I pondered it for a little while the term “good” which could be highly subjective. What might be good for one person, might be horrible for another. So that begs me to define good. And brother…do I really think I am capable of that!?!? But, I felt I had to define it anyway. So I decided to define the term “good” out there for you in light of prepping.

Good is; minimally, not harming a person that you are responsible for, and ultimately not violating any basic tenant of the Judeo-Christian value system.

But, a judgement is a judgement…and they will have to be made in any type of post-event relating to prepping.

Example: Is killing another person a good judgement call? No, not according to the Judea-Christian value system. However, there are instances where it is acceptable to take another person’s life. The right of self-defense is a God-given right (a.k.a. Unalienable Right). So a “good” judgement would be to use fatal force to stop a person from killing your family. A bad judgement would be to kill someone just because they approach your property and you don’t know why they are doing so.

So I don’t start to belabor the “good” point and get side tracked, let’s move on and work at seeing how training, experience, knowledge, and wisdom work together for the prepper.

Training & Knowledge –

What do you need training in?

I have no idea!

How’s that for a revelation?

But, you can answer that question because it applies to you, not me, not your neighbor, just you. Once again you have to establish some foundation before you can even pose that question. That foundation must be a way to prioritize what is really important and what is not. For that you must have a priority system of prepper needs. And that is an easy one.

There are a wide variety, almost an endless list, of emergencies, disasters and grid-down possibilities. But amazingly, they all fundamentally present virtually the same threats in relatively the same priority order:

  1. Violence
  2. Sickness/Injury
  3. Lack of, or Poor, Communication
  4. Lack of, or Poor, Organization
  5. Dehydration
  6. Hyper/Hypothermia (clothing & shelter)
  7. Starvation

Using the threats/risks in the priority order that they appear, answer the question…What area do you have the least knowledge in?

OK, great! Now go find some training in that area. Yes, it’s that simple. You can find that training on-line on a website such as this one or you can go take a tactical carbine course at the gun range or Frontsight in Nevada, or go take a wilderness first aid class at the local community college. But, take the training!

Caution: What is the quality level of the training you are planning on taking? Yeah, better ask yourself that question. There are a lot of so-called expert preppers out there. I’ve read many of their articles, taken some of their training. They are no experts! And the training they are giving through those articles are likely to get you killed. Whomever you take training from, make sure they are qualified to be providing that training. 

Experience –

It is hard, if not impossible, to gain much actual experience in emergencies, disasters, and grid-down events. Well, unless you are blessed to be in the emergency services profession. The better “in-person” training will give you scenarios to work out in real time. Another area is to volunteer whenever you can to provide service in emergency and disaster situations with a quality response organization.

You can also “war game” situations. In your mind develop a scenario such as a power outage. Now, go step-by-step in your mind what you would do. Once you have done that, write it down. Now that you’ve completed that, take your list and walk through it doing each step (as much as possible) just as you would in the actual event. Do the same thing with your family. Do it again with your prepper group.

While actual real-life experience may be hard to come by, thankfully, you can acquire experience in creative ways. The more you do this the better your mind will be able to handle the actual, or similar, event when it does occur.

Wisdom –

This is an almost impossible topic to give you information on or train you in. I firmly believe that “wisdom” is acquired over time, through experience, with a solid foundation of knowledge that has been acquired from high-quality sources. In some cases, such as the Ten Commandments, you can utilize this great guide. In other cases wisdom is an intangible that just has to be figured out one painful event at a time. But, one thing wisdom requires -in my opinion- is a set of principles that have proven to be reliable, fair and just.

In my mind that already exists, so I ask the question, “Why reinvent the wheel?”

I am speaking of the Judeo-Christian value system. Listen, when properly applied, it works. And it work every single time. It has proven to work for the last 2000 years. Yes, yes, there are plenty of examples where Christians and Jews have made horrific decisions that were anything but wise. However, when you look at those decisions and the outcomes you will clearly see they didn’t stick to the actual values themselves. They took on the mantle of those values but were almost universally narcissistic and making decisions for their own gain and profit.

Whatever your value system, ensure that is will allow you to learn and apply good judgements when emergencies, disasters, or grid down events occur.

Summary –

The best gear in the world won’t help you if you don’t know how to use it. When the horde is headed towards your house…your fancy tricked out AR-15 and 10,000 rounds of ammo won’t mean a thing unless you’ve acquired the knowledge and skills to employ the right tactics. When you are faced with a person that tried to steal your food will you know how to treat them? Wisdom better let you consider that maybe they are just trying to keep their wife and three kids from starving to death.

This isn’t a tough subject to figure out. You probably already know what you need training in, where your knowledge it lacking. Go fix it!

Gain experience, gain wisdom. When the times get really tough you are going to be faced with decisions that could easily overwhelm you. But, that doesn’t have to be the case…no, not at all. If you have taken the right training from the right people, gained experience through training and real-life, you should be able to survive. If you can throw wisdom into the mix you and your family can thrive!

The last element of this article is motivation. But, it doesn’t get its own section, just a simple short paragraph.

Motivation is something I can’t give you. Motivation is something you either have or you don’t. But, the good thing is, if you don’t have it, you can get it. Motivation can start as easily as looking up a class in your local area on first aid or tactical carbine, or read a couple good prepper articles online. Go have some fun with it, and then more motivation will come.

Prepping will not fail you! We can do this! We will do this!

Our families will survive and thrive because you can, and will, do your part!


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