Random Thoughts About Systems and Personal Defense

The smart money bets on creating and maintaining systems and worrying less about setting and attaining goals. That’s an idea that was stolen from a famous cartoonist-turned-pundit. His idea is that goals can be self-limiting and can prevent you from seeing further opportunities when they arise.

There’s truth in that, but it’s also applies to those who are in the self-protection space.

A mundane example came about as I was leaving for a recent road trip. In the early morning darkness, I prepared to leave while my bride slept. Simply putting my gear on my belt as I threaded it through belt loops was a matter of seeing shapes and feeling what was which.

“Last off, first on.” A simple thing…slipping a flashlight pouch, a key strap, and other stuff on my belt was just a matter of reversing the order I’d used when slipping them off the belt the night before. I lay them out that way and my hand just goes to the item naturally based on wearing the same gear every day, without even having to see anything clearly.

How does that relate to safety? It’s like a flight crew’s checklist. That’s a smart idea to avoid missing potentially critical items. The checklist ensures we check the same important things in the same order, over and over. It’s something you do until you can’t get it wrong.

Operationally, going about your daily business, things are a little different. Pulling into a pit stop on the road, whether or not I’m getting fuel, I pull in nose-first at a gas pump facing the business. That’s something I learned from Craig Douglas. It gives me the chance to visually “frisk” the premises, looking for anything that’s out of place.

If I see something that looks like a problem — a disturbance or even a robbery — I can simply drive away. Some other place, some other time.

Where do you sit in a restaurant? It’s not simply a matter of ‘can you see the main entry door,’ it’s more a matter of ‘will you be looking?’ Do you have close access to an exit? Being able to leave quickly is always a good plan.

Having a system, a formatted response sequence, frees up your brain space for other issues.  Things like decision-making based on environmental variables, cover or concealment, other people in the area who could be put at risk, making force selections, escape and evasion, having the tools where you need them if they’re needed…all of that goes a long way toward ensuring safety and success.

In other words, have a plan (what some may call a system).

It would be really nice if we didn’t have to worry about potential problems, from medical emergencies to domestic disturbances or workplace violence and crime, but that’s not where we are. That’s also what the animal thinks at the watering hole in the early evening, but he’s still classified as food. Things haven’t really changed from that scenario no matter where you are on the food chain.

Be safe out there.

2 Responses

  1. Every night, when I do the final perimeter check before going to bed, my cat runs ahead of me, down the basement stairs and behind a clear tarp I hung from the ceiling to control the dust as I wire brush the cinderblick walls to remove old paint and prep them for waterproofing.

    Why does Pipsquirt run behind the tarp? I don’t know. Seems more of a habit than a purpose.

    But when I descend the stairs, it is a step in my system: check the perimeter. Doors locked, windows closed, shades down, light timers working.

    Purposeful, well-thought out, organized habits. Systems.

    Pipsquirt, well she’s just hoping she can find some big-game, like a beetle or the occasional cricket that finds its way in through the garage.

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