Mindset & Attitude: Getting Ahead
As many of us have experienced before, we have attempted to accomplish something in our lives &, whether we have succeeded or failed, realized that our mental involvement had quite a lot to do with the results. I have realized at times that my mind was “just not in it” or my mind was completely “consumed with it.” I’m sure we have all seen this in others at some point in time. Our mental involvement or “mindset” must be present & active before we set out to accomplish anything in our lives.
Before any action or movement is taken, a thought must first occur. This thought derives in our brain from our conscious or sub-conscious “mind”. Our conscious mind is what we are actively aware of at a certain time & is at the forefront of our thoughts. It almost seems that our sub-conscious mind lies dormant until it is needed, however it is extremely aware of what is going on!
Our sub-conscious lies in waiting to react and throw the necessary things forward to our conscious mind to then allow us to take the action that we think is appropriate. Unfortunately, our sub-conscious mind does not come with all of the necessary information we need for every situation. It is too bad we cannot just buy an information chip that we can plug into our brains & be ready for anything; kind of like the movie “The Matrix” where people are plugged in and downloaded with a program making them master martial artists & weapons experts in just a few seconds. We have not reached that level of technology yet but that does not mean that we cannot manually input the necessary information ourselves. This is where our learning & training comes into play.
Through learning & training we “download” our sub-conscious minds with the necessary information we would need to perform our jobs. The more information we put into it, the better. This is that mental “toolbox” we all have heard about numerous times. The tactics that we learn are the important “tools” we collect in relation to our line of work. Without the right tools, we’re forced to find something else that may or may not work thus taking more time causing us to lose critical seconds to react; “Boyd’s Cycle” or “O.O.D.A. Loop” is the perfect example of this, however this is a whole other article. This “toolbox” is beyond any capacity limit as it is “boundless”. The more information or tools we maintain & are able to access at the right time, the lesser reaction time. This elicits a sense of confidence & presence that we feel & exude to others around us.
Confidence is an “attitude” we need as police officers to maintain a sense of authority that makes us who we are. As we all know, our first level of force is our presence in the “police” uniform and/or vehicle that everyone “observes” as we arrive. Usually this presence takes care of approximately 9 out 10 of our problems but what about the one that it does not? Then we must revert to what we have learned & trained for thus far & take action. Are we ready? Have we equipped our mental toolbox adequately to overcome & survive the potentially dangerous situation?
In many tactical courses you will constantly hear the “action beats reaction” concept. We have been shown how difficult it is to react quickly enough to an action taken against us to gain the advantage. This can take place in many situations from hand-to-hand confrontations to armed encounters. We must not however, only rely on our physical abilities to overcome a dangerous situation. If we have prepared our minds to expect & recognize the events we face, we have already taken “action” & are ahead.
The attitude I mentioned earlier is the mindset that can make or break us. All too often, I have observed so many officers with the, “it’s not going to happen to me” mentality & therefore take unnecessary risks on the streets. Unnecessary risks such as; not wearing their ballistic vests, canceling cover prematurely, handcuffing prisoners in front or not searching them well enough before placing them into the car. I would be a hypocrite if I said that I have never taken any of the aforementioned risks at one point & time during my career &, as you can see, am luckily still here. I try to learn from my mistakes & those of others as I have seen those risks take a turn for the worst. I have realized that I no longer want to be “lucky” to have survived & want my survival to be on purpose. If we continue to think that it is not going to happen to us, we are already behind in the game of survival.
From the beginning of my career, the majority of my training consisted of “defensive” tactics. With defensive tactics come mostly retreating, reactionary movements. Now, I am by no means expressing that being defensive or retreating is not important & unnecessary for there is a time & place to do so. I think we all have a very good idea of this. But, what if we just changed our mentality to be more “offensive” than defensive? Rather than thinking “it’s not going to happen to me!” why not think, “ it can happen to me!” or even better, “it’s going to happen to me!” therefor expecting it. It’s just an altering of our state of mind that requires very little effort but much repetition & training. By thinking this way, we have already established a sense of control before things get out of control as we all have seen how quickly things can get there! Think of it in terms of becoming the hunter rather than the hunted.
If we can change our mentality to, “when it does happen to me”, our minds & bodies are prepared to take immediate action when the time comes with less surprise than expected. If that critical time never comes, then we have not lost anything & will have therefore made it home to our families’ on purpose & not luckily.