Mindset and decision-making (2016 Tactical Conference)

Mindset and decision-making are intimately related. One of the phrases we use for having made a decision is ‘I’ve made up my mind.’ While not a formal topic, the concept of mindset and decision-making was a clear subcurrent of thought at the 2016 Tactical Conference. While this wasn’t a formal topic, per se, it was a theme that ran through several presentations and side conversations. As my friend Mark Luell  put it, “This [my life and my family] is important to me and I won’t let you take it from me.”

An early conversation I had was about our Mindset as Americans. The focal point of our conversation was an article in The Atlantic Monthly.  The article described the difference between US soccer competition and soccer in the rest of the world. A key dissimilarity is that in the US, our children typically spend much more time playing and less time practicing individual skills. We’re eager to confront and control/dominate early as part of our culture in a way that is less common in the rest of the world. The common attitude of “I’ll shoot someone who’s in my house” is rooted in this piece of our American Mindset. Sometimes that works out, sometimes it doesn’t.

The article’s comment about developing individual decision-making skills resonated with me. I continue to be less sanguine that Force on Force training is the panacea it’s thought to be in the training industry. If we don’t teach people the process of decision-making and then just throw them in the deep end of the pool, how helpful is that in teaching them?

“The thing that makes elite players is decision making,” Lemov told me. “They need to integrate not just how to do something but whether, when, and why.” He sees parallels to the difficulty many American students have solving problems independently. “If you give [American] kids a math problem and tell them how to solve it,” he said, “they can usually do it. But if you give them a problem and it’s not clear how to solve it, they struggle.”

John Hearne’s presentation FBI Research: The Deadly Mix got me wondering if being a nice guy is just another form of trying to control the situation. Granted, it’s a different approach to control but maybe it’s just a matter of tone and style rather than substance.

Two of Tom Givens’ presentations had an undercurrent of decision-making. Deciding whether or not our personal protection equipment is ‘needed’ during the course of our daily lives is a serious choice. As Tom puts it, the only failures in his student incident database are the result of ‘forfeits,’ i.e., the victim was unarmed and therefore unable to resolve their problem. Being unarmed was a decision that didn’t work out well in those cases.

John Murphy  provided me a video I had previously seen that relates heavily to decision-making. The officer’s action in the video demonstrates the clarity of his decision and how unhesitatingly he applied it.

Those of us who have actively been at this for decades have a very clear idea of our options, their consequences, and how to appropriately apply those options. Choosing options and being clear in your own mind about when and where to apply them is a critical part of the personal protection process.

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5 responses

  1. […] Source: Mindset and decision-making (2016 Tactical Conference) […]

  2. Good points, Sir. It was good to see you this past weekend!

  3. I firmly believe that you can take the concept of dry-fire/practice beyond simply exercising the basics of grip, stance, sight alignment/picture, etc. and incorporate DMEs (as I believe you’ve suggested in your post. Practicing the fundamentals is just one component of a dry-training program. I would also suggest (and I believe we are on the same page) that force on force is a valid training technique, but it cannot be used to embed skills in the absence of understanding the why and when to take certain actions. DMEs, like dry-fire sessions don’t require huge amounts of time and resources. Most of the DME scenarios we create consist of a brief situational paragraph, an established time frame (usually less than a minute) to formulate a course of action, followed by a guided discussion run by the team sergeant.

    1. I agree with you 100%. Your comment about understanding the underlying decisions necessary to get something out of FoF is spot on.

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