On September 23, 2013, Nihom Thephakasyon, boarded a commuter train in San Francisco, drew a .45 caliber handgun and pointed it across the aisle. He continued to put the weapon away and pull it out several times. Lost in their smart phones, no one ever looked up until he shot Jason Valdez, a local college student, in the back.
It's hard to imagine anyone could be so disconnected from their surroundings, but even subtle distractions can lead to deadly results. Last year, police, military personnel, and members of the public were injured, even killed in ambushes and other surprise attacks. Many of the victims were trained – even highly trained, so situational awareness is a topic that warrants our attention. (This is Part II of our Bulletproofing Yourself series. If you haven't had a chance to read the initial post, just click here.)
Awareness is the foundation of self-protection. It's the number weapon in your arsenal that can keep you alive. If you’re not aware, it’s doubtful that you can respond in time when the attack comes.
There are 2 components to Awareness: Alertness and Presence. Alertness is the quality of nimbleness that allows you to respond to a situation with celerity. It helps you stay ahead of the enemy and keep the momentum in your favor. If you’ve ever experienced the feeling of being caught “flat-footed,” chances are you weren’t in a proper state of alertness.
You are hardwired to be alert. It’s not something you learn, it’s something you maintain. Nature has endowed us with our own survival instincts for preservation as other animals in the wild. The difference is that civilization and technology has left us more distracted, less reliant upon our instincts than we were in the past. The impulse is still there, just dormant.
The key to reviving your latent abilities lies in avoiding those factors that threaten to degrade them. It may come as a surprise, but the 3 greatest distractors that compete with your mind’s ability to stay sharp are:
In our next post, we will explain why these are the biggest mental distractors and how each of these elements hamper your ability to remain alert. The elements are a part of life. You can't avoid them indefinitely, so I'll share some tips on how to and manage them so you can stay in tune with your environment.
This training comes from the world of security and executive protection, but the principles are applicable if you’re a sniper, a cop out on patrol, or just a security-minded citizen on vacation with your family. The information may challenge the way you look at situational awareness, so look in your inbox for that.
Once we wrap up Alertness, we’ll tackle the second component of Awareness: Presence. You definitely don’t want to miss that one.
Until then, tell me what you think about the distractors I listed above. What do you think about the list? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think.