I was reading Kasey’s blog…… and as usual, it made perfect sense. Common sense coupled with good training will save lives. But nagging at the back of my mind was the fact that he was mainly talking about LE officers. I need to translate things down to a “civilian” point of view, even narrowing it more so to a “female civilian” point of view. This is not only my job but it could save my own life as well.
Being able to make the switch from calm to high levels of force, this is something I struggle with. I work as a health care physician. I am there to show compassion, to help people regain their health. We are very busy and I have a lot on my mind at all time during the day. I do not feel the need to always be in a high level of force state of mind. It feels like extra work at his point. Gentleness is more the key to my job. Let’s face it, the little old lady with a walker or the guy talking about his bowel movements, are not a big threat to my physical safety. So I get lazy, complacent and this makes it very difficult for me to switch mode in the blink of an eye. In the event of a stressful situation, we always revert to what we have trained to do. Muscle memory or more accurately neural pathways are not only a physical phenomenon but it is very much a mental one as well. If you have never practiced flipping that switch from low gear to high gear, how do you expect doing it under stress.
“We never rise to our expectations but always fall to the level of our training.”
This brought on a conversation with Kasey. It went like this:
Lise: so how do you get people to be able to make that switch quick enough to save their lives
Kasey : what switch?
Lise.: from nice to kill mode
Kasey : did you read the blog?
Kasey : you can't. That’s why you start in kill mode and switch to nice. I can be nice while I'm waiting for a reason to kill you. Does that make sense? Was that not clear in the blog?
Lise: no it's clear in the blog. I was translating to civilians... women.... I can’t walk around at my job in kill mode. In your line of work it's a given to do what you do
Kasey: sure you can. There is an old saying. Be nice, be polite, have a plan to kill everyone in the room
Kasey : here is you mission. If you choose to accept it.
· for the day, you are Sydney Bristow under cover at the clinic
· everyone you interact with is going to kill you if your cover is blown
· You have to maintain cover (be nice) at the same time assuming you will need to kill every one you encounter
Hmm…a challenge….sounds promising and interesting…. and fun…. I am game
So what would I need to do as Sydney Bristow. For those of you who have never seen Alias, Sydney Bristow is the name of the agent/ spy that stars in it. She is completely awesome. She always is on a dangerous mission and succeeding at it in most instances.
Good role model for someone who wants to learn the proper balance between nice, compassionate and killer mode. So how would Sydney Bristow or Nikkita or any good spy prepare herself to go to work undercover?
She would prepare herself well, do her homework. Spies do not like surprises. They want to be ready for any events, good or bad. Here is a to-do list, in no particular order:
1. Know what the pre-attack indicators look like, sound like. Here are a few
· Attacker moving in range, close enough to attack
· Won’t take “no” for an answer
· Change in breathing
· Reaching for a weapon
· Trying to isolate you
· Keep starring uncomfortably
· Clenching fists
2. Know your location. Always study the terrain where you will spend time
3. Know your exit routes. Where do you have to go to make a quick get away
4. Know where a potential trap is and what would be the best way to get out of it
5. Know where your “tools” are.
6. Be nice, do not antagonize a potential attacker/ customer
7. Always know who is around you. Learn to scan a crowd for inconsistencies
8. Don’t set yourself up to have your exit routes cut off
9. Don’t turn your back on people you are not 120% comfortable with
10. Dress and act the part so you don’t blow your cover
11. Look comfortable, confident but do not let your brain and eyes be comfortable. Don’t be lazy and complacent. Expect the best but be prepared for the worse.
12. Never get so engrossed in a task that you forget to pay attention to what’s going on around you
13. Suspect everyone
14. Always have a plan to control, kill or escape anyone in your vicinity
And let’s start our day, our mission. I got to the office early to get all my ducks in a row before anyone would show up. I did my rounds to secure my perimeter. But the day was up to a rough start… I was missing a piece of equipment that I sorely needed… the phone rang and it was my all-time un-favorite-whinny-demanding person to deal with (you know the kind, we all have one of those in our lives) and to top it off I had a pounding headache. Well that’s enough excuses … let’s make things work. While on the phone with my un-favorite person, someone walked in… I signaled them to relocate to an area where I could keep an eye on them and that would make it difficult for them to get to me at the same time… I like what I did there… After the phone call I was dealing with my patient in the back room and someone else came in. I paid attention; I cut the pie from a distance and went to see who it was. I contained her in a harmless area where I could see coming from a mile away. Good start. The rest of the day went pretty much like this. I made sure I walked behind people. I never left my back to the door. I forgot myself a few times, dealt with people without having a backup plan in case things went wrong. It is difficult to wash away years of habits, especially when you get very busy. That’s why I needed this exercise. And I need to keep it up for as many days as it will take to make this a permanent habit, a “I don’t have to think about it” thing.
It is a bit more challenging in a setting such as mine. I have to sometimes put myself purposely in a position where I was trapped, i.e. behind the front desk or in a corner or in a room with the only exit blocked. So now I KNOW I am in a bad position, I have to raise my level of awareness and be prepared to switch to a higher level of force. So I had to have a good plan to be able to move quickly, to use something or someone as a shield and to have a “weapon” nearby. Now I do carry a folder or 2 on me at all time, but if I did not, lots of things can be used as a weapon, a stapler hurts like the dickens when “applied” across the bridge of the nose. There were times I had to turn my back on some people, In those cases I tried to always put my back to the wall, and talk to people in a more sideways position so I could keep as many people as I could in my field of vision. Going outside to the car or to the mailbox, I was paying attention to any cars I was not familiar with. I knew what my options to run away were if I was chased.
Long day…. lots learned. Most important lesson learned is that I need to keep doing this exercise because it’s still way too easy for me to slip back into old habits. If I can do this while busy and experiencing a headache, I can excel at it when the circumstances are perfect. But we cannot choose when we get attacked. .. “Hey buddy, go steal someone else’s purse…. I don’t feel good today”… “I sprained an ankle and can hardly walk, you can’t rape me today. Come back next week when I feel better”. We have to be able to function no matter what.
But I am not going to lie… this was hard work for me. I had to constantly think. No slipping into that unconscious competence mind set because I do not have that mindset regarding my safety … yet…. I only have that unconscious competence when it comes to my daily job. So this was the pattern I found myself slipping back into.
So why did I need to do this exercise and make it work?… besides having a blast with it?…. What can I say….being a geek is fun ;-)
Let’s face it….I don’t think I will ever be attacked in my own office. So why?
First of all playing games is such an easier way to learn lessons. It is not only fun, it’s educational as well. Why do you think they use this with kids? It works! Just because you are grown up doesn’t mean you should stop learning this way… let’s face it … IT WORKS!!!
I am at the top of the predator’s victim profile list: female, small and older. I am the one most predators would want to choose to obtain what they are looking for, probably a monetary need. So I need to stack the odds in my favor. I need to remove myself from the list. Being in good physical condition will help. Being well trained will help. Being on guard, confident and well informed is also another great asset possibly more important than anything else. If I can get into this mind set into my office, a place where I would normally feel very safe, I can build this in to a habit. If I get used to being on my guard as soon as I am out of my secured home, I will make this into a habit. And when I am in a location or situation that requires more awareness, I will be able to do this instinctively. I need to project the “don’t mess with me” vibe as easily as I can put a smile on my face. Notice I said “don’t mess with me vibe” NOT “I am picking a fight vibe”…. Huge difference. If you are going to threatened people, you might just get threatened back…. Especially if you are a small size female.
I do not go out to bars much anymore but nowadays, parking lots at stores and malls are probably the most common place for women to get attacked (robbed, kidnapped). But if I have a habit of doing #1 to #14 routinely when I am out, I will have avoided 99% of the chances of being attacked.
So lesson learned: how does this applies to me as a civilian, living my day to day routine life? Again in no particular order:
1. Never get yourself in a situation where you will be in over your head… aka… if you have a cut and are bleeding DO NOT go swim in shark infested water. If you see someone coming toward you and you have a very uncomfortable spine tingling feeling like something is wrong, don’t just stand there telling yourself you are being silly. If whatever technique/trick you want to use would not work on an angry hungry bear, it will NOT work against a predator. This is a topic I cover in great length during my class. This could make a blog all by itself.
2. Know what the pre-attack indicators look like, sound like. This is huge!!! You need to be able to glance at people, locations and know if this is a “danger zone” or if this guy starring at you is about to pull a knife on you. If you have this down you will never be one of those airhead who walks between a mother bear and her cub and think she can punch just the bear in the nose and walk away unharmed.
3. Never get in a relaxed mode unless you have made your surroundings safe. Never assume they are safe. Make SURE they are
4. Do not go into the world with your eyes closed: know your location, know your exit routes, and know the potential pitfalls or traps, know what areas are going to be dangerous, what locations are a great place to get attacked. Again this is another topic that I cover at length.
5. Pay attention to whom and what is around you. NEVER ASSUME. Ted Bundy was a good looking guy seemingly very harmless… ask the 30 + women he killed if they thought he looked menacing. Oh no, you can’t,,, because they are all DEAD. Bundy was famous for sweet talking his way close enough to be able to kidnap and /or kill those women. They all assumed he was nice and harmless. They all missed some pre-attack indicators.
6. If you are running away, run away toward safety not away from danger. You may be getting your exit route cut off. Bad guys working in groups will purposely try to get you to do so.
7. Dress the part: if you are going anywhere violence can occur, do not get dress in a way that you can’t run or defend yourself. If you want to dress wearing a short skirt and spike heels, don’t go out to questionable locations/parties, don’t go out by yourself, don’t get drunk in public.
8. Act the part. If you act like you know what you are doing, if you are sending the “don’t mess with me” vibe, professionals will notice and leave you alone. That makes you “too expensive” to deal with. Criminal are cheapskates, they want to get away with as little damage and expense as possible (yet another topic I expound on quite a bit… it’s hard to write everything down in this blog… it would make a book)
9. Never get so engrossed in a task that you forget to pay attention to what’s going on around you. This is pretty self-explanatory. Criminals love to take advantage of people who are distracted: talking on their phone, listening to music with headphones on, reading, looking lost or distraught, day dreaming, crying, etc.
10. ALWAYS be prepared.
The moral of this story: it is much easier to defend yourself if you see an attack coming and are prepared. We can't walk around the world in a martial arts "ready stance" prepared to pounce at the slightest provocation. However, we can work on maintaining a mental "ready stance".
This is what Kasey was preaching, being at a mentally higher level force right off the get go to be prepared. You can always shift to low gear if need be. It’s easier to turn the switch off than on.
The objectives are not all that different for a spy than for a civilian. I am not saying you should be walking around thinking about killing everyone you come across. This exercise is designed to you get into a pattern that will help you first of all avoid a bad situation and if Murphy comes knocking, it will help you react quickly in the fastest and safest manner possible.
So those 10 points are YOUR mission, a mission to keep you safe… should you choose to accept it. Should you or any of your team be killed or captured, Life Assurance: Beyond Self-defense will deny any knowledge of you or this mission. This blog will self-destruct in