Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Resilience Perscription

The Resilience Perscription

By Dr. Dennis Charney

 

1. Positive Attitude

• Optimism is strongly related to resilience.
• Optimism is in part genetic, but it can be learned (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy).
Neurobiological Mechanisms: Reward circuits, converse of learned helplessness

2. Cognitive Flexibility Through Cognitive Reappraisal

• Traumatic experiences can be re-evaluated by altering the event’s perceived value and meaningfulness.
• One can receive a benefit from stress and trauma: one can reframe, assimilate, accept and recover. These skills can be learned.
• Failure is an essential ingredient for growth.
 Neurobiological Mechanisms: Memory Reconsolidation, Cognitive Control of Emotion, Memory Suppression

3. Embrace a Personal Moral Compass

• Develop a set of core beliefs that very few things can shatter.
• For many, faith in conjunction with strong religious and/or spiritual beliefs is associated with resilience.
• Altruism has been strongly related to resilience. Survivor Mission.
Neurobiological Mechanisms: Neural Model of Human Morality, Altruism and Human Evolution

4. Find a Resilient Role Model

• Role models can be found in one’s own life.
• Imitation is a very powerful mode of learning.
Neurobiological Mechanisms: Neuronal Imprinting of Human Values
 

5. Face Your Fears

• Fear is normal and can be used as a guide; facing your fears can increase your self-esteem.
• Learn and practice skills necessary to move through the fear.
Neurobiological Mechanisms: Extinction, Stress Inoculation
 

6. Develop Active Coping Skills

• Resilient individuals use active, rather than passive, coping skills.
• Minimize appraisal of threat, create positive statements about oneself, seek support of others.
Neurobiological Mechanisms: Functional Neuroanatomy of Fear Mechanisms

7. Establish and Nurture a Supportive Social Network

• Very few can “go it alone”; humans need a safety net during times of stress.
• Considerable emotional strength accrues from close relationships with people and organizations.
Neurobiological Mechanisms: Cognitive Neuroscience of Human Social Behavior

8. Attend to Physical Well-Being

• Physical exercise has positive effects on physical hardiness, mood, and improves self-esteem.
Neurobiological Mechanisms: Effects on neurogenesis, cognition, regulation of emotion, immune function, etc.

General Principles
(we underestimate capacities of Mind, Brain, Body)

9. Train Regularly and Rigorously in Multiple Areas

• Change requires systematic and disciplined activity.
• Concentrate on training in multiple areas: emotional intelligence, moral integrity, physical endurance.

10. Recognize, Utilize and Foster Signature Strengths

• Learn to recognize your character strengths and engage them to deal with difficult and stressful situations

~ By Dr. Dennis Charney


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Will Smoot forwarded this to me and I thought some of you out there might benefit from it as well. 


Keep going!
~Craig

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Of Self & Others

 

It's a sunny Saturday afternoon, you sit down across from the salesman to buy a new car. The young salesman sits across from you with a salamander smile and says, "I'm so excited that you're here today! It's the end of the month and I need to get my sales quota."

He asks you a couple quick questions regarding your financial status, then slides over a sales form for a new top of the line luxury car and hands you a pen.

You're thinking... WTF?!?

How do you feel about this guy right now? How likely are you to buy from this joker? Whose needs is concerned about, his or yours?

How persuasive do you think he is going to be?

Yep, you guessed it, not very!

Meanwhile, somewhere across the city in a glass citadel, an employee for MassCorp sits in her cubicle working on a team project... only she's the sole person working on it. Her team members dumped all the work on her. Her phone rings, "Hey babe, you coming home for dinner?"

"No, I have to stay late again." she says, with some anxiousness.

"The kids are asking about you. You haven't seen them all week again and I miss you."

"I told you that I'd have to work hard to be considered for the partnership," she says a bit annoyed.

"I know, but when we decided to get back together we both agreed to do things differently this time," he said with an edge.

"Oh, it's not like you don't have some days where you have to stay late at your job," she quickly fires back.

"I'm not trying to start a fight. It's just we've fallen back into our same routine that we were in before. We barely see one another, the kids seem to only see us argue. I'm at my wits end and don't know exactly what to do."

"Once we get the car paid off and finally pay off that credit card we can relax a bit," she say optimistically.

"You know how many times we've told ourselves that?!" he blurts out suddenly, a little surprised at how much was behind the statement.

"You were the one who "needed" that vacation in Mexico. I wanted to do a staycation, but you said getting away would be good for our relationship," she shot back quickly.

"As if that actually helped," she added sarcastically under her breath.

Both situations are dealing with the person not seeing a bigger picture. They are focusing too much on them selves in very different ways. In the first example, the salesperson really didn't care about their customer. The only thing he really cared about was his own needs.

In the other example, the woman was being selfish as well, only in a very different way. It probably didn't feel that way to her. She most likely felt conflicted and unclear regarding her priorities and her identity. She may have been hiding in her career to avoid facing other deeper issues that she didn't want to or didn't know how to drill down into yet.

I can identify with each of these people to varying degrees. There have been times where I have only thought about my own needs AND I have also immersed myself in other activities, such as work to put up a smoke screen so I didn't have to face other issues.

It is easy to get wrapped up in our own shit. Sometimes like the car salesman it is overt; other times it may not be as easy to see. Over the years I have busied myself with a large array of things to distract myself from my baggage. Some of my travels and obsessions were and are legit, I do advocate living a full life and I tend to work & play hard. I have gained a bit more balance as I've gotten older (no comments from the peanut gallery out there... hahaha!! =), but I'm still working on it.


It's easy to externalize things. It's funny how some days everyone ELSE is driving like an idiot! After the twelfth asshole driver cuts me off, I realize that I'm probably the real asshole and I should breathe, relax, get to my destination, eat a snickers bar and chill for a few.



The bottom line is life is about self and others. If we don't take care of ourselves, it's difficult to help others. Not to mention we often create or are part of the problem ourselves.

Remember it's not ONLY about us. As a matter of fact it's "a little bit" more about others. Meaning most of us will watch out a little more for others. Will protect others over ourselves, but don't forget the shirt:


I believe human nature is like this... We're a little slanted toward others... but only a LITTLE! It's easy to be selfish, so be careful. It's not uncommon to put our own needs in front of others, especially when we are overwhelmed, fearful, in an environment like a relationship or society that is unhealthy (especially reflecting poor leadership), etc. This is true on the big stuff as well as the little things.

Here, Dr. Robert Humphrey shares a story from his experience in WWII while on Iwo Jima. It reflects this this same concept regarding self and others. He calls it the "Dual Life Value." His view also supports that we are slanted by our innate nature to be "a little bit" more for others than for ourselves. 


Iwo Jima Stories
The Dual-Life Value
I
I took over my platoon in a protected area. Men were walking around. They were a experienced, confident group who had been involved in the fighting at the top of Mount Suribachi--site of the famous flag raising.

One young man was especially noticeable, carrying an unusual Thompson submachine gun. He oozed self-confidence and independence. After chow that first evening, as he perfected his foxhole, he started declaring to himself in a loud voice: "I don't volunteer for nothin' else! Screw the Marine Corps! Screw Mount Suribachi! Screw everything except ol' number one! That's all that counts: gettin' off this island alive! I don't volunteer for nothin'!"

He shouted it so repeatedly that a couple of the other men picked it up. "Yeah! Right! We don't volunteer for nothing!" Suddenly it dawned on me that they were obliquely speaking to me, their new platoon leader. I felt the chill of having my leadership threatened.

The next morning, as we prepared to edge out of our positions, a message came down from higher headquarters. As luck would have it, I was being ordered to send a volunteer out onto a hill in front of us on a sure-death reconnaissance mission. Hesitant to ask for volunteers after what I had heard the night before, I announced that I, myself would go. I made the excuse that, since I was new, I wanted to see the terrain. No sooner had I spoken, than the same Marine who had made the declarations the previous night said, "No, I'll go, Lieutenant."

"What!" I exclaimed. "you were the one with the big mouth saying that you never volunteer for anything!"
Almost sheepishly trying to cover his willingness to take my place, he answered, "Well, I just can't trust any of these other jarheads on such a mission."
II
In my rifle platoon, two of the teenage Marines had "stressed-out" after 34 of their 40 man platoon had been shot in the first five days. The two were no longer staying alert. I warned them that the Japanese would soon sneak into their fox holes, beat them to a shot and kill them. They did not respond. I raged at them, repeatedly, with the same warning about their impending death. It still did not work.
 
One of the platoon's wiser young riflemen, son of a Texas rancher, advised me quietly that I was telling the men the wrong thing. He said, "Tell them, Lieutenant, that the Japanese will get past them and kill us others." To my shock, that worked.
 
Adapted from "Values For A New Millennium"
by Robert L. Humphrey



Our human nature can sometimes be confusing. How can we sometimes be so selfish and other times selfless? We have many examples of both of these. Both Jack Hoban and Dr. Humphrey ask, what value is held higher in culture? The person who saves himself (the survivor) or the person who saves others (the hero)?

Being a student of history and anthropology myself, I have read many stories about both survivors and hero's. Cultures from around the world hold survivors in high esteem. There are many survivor stories ancient and modern. Heck, now-a-days there are shows about it. As a matter of fact, there's one I'm sure you've heard of, (not so) ironically, it's called "Survivor."

That said, there are many, many MORE stories telling the HERO's tale.

It doesn't matter what culture you look at, they all have more hero stories than that of survival. Hero stories, stories where people put the needs of others over their own. Stories both ancient and modern.

This phenomenon point to humans placing more value on others above that of self.

I can hear you say it already... The but's... "But Craig... I heard... My uncle knows someone... I had a friend... What about criminals? Sociopaths? Politicians, lawyers & salespeople? =)  Terrorists?!? Surely these people are more about themselves than others!?"

Yes, you are right, there are some people, who some of the time are more about themselves. Not to mention the selflessness that people exhibit is often only shown for those in their own "Tribe." This is why we must expand our "tribal identity."

~~~~~~~~~~

"Today's world requires that we accept the oneness of humanity. In the past, isolated communities could afford to think of one another as fundamentally separate and even existed in total isolation. Nowadays, however, events in one part of the world eventually affect the entire planet. Therefore we have to treat each major local problem as a global concern from the moment it begins. We can no longer invoke the national, racial or ideological barriers that separate us without destructive repercussion. In the context of our new interdependence, considering the interests of others is clearly the best form of self-interest.

I view this fact as a source of hope. The necessity for cooperation can only strengthen mankind, because it helps us recognize that the most secure foundation for the new world order is not simply broader political and economic alliances, but rather I each individual's genuine practice of love and compassion. For a better, happier, more stable and civilized future, each of us must develop a sincere, warm-hearted feeling of brother- and sisterhood."


~ The Dalai Lama

~~~~~~~~~~~

I find it interesting that you can see the effect of your decisions. When you do something that is most good/least harm for everyone you tend to not have to justify your decision. It feels right, it feels good. Whereas after doing something that was self serving in a negative way toward others may feel good in the moment, but we tend to justify our actions after the fact. Often the more justification that is involved, the more off base the action was.

That is not a hard rule, just a guideline.

Doing the right thing doesn't need near the justification that doing the selfish thing does.


So, there you have it, some wise words from some wise people... and then the stuff I wrote! ;-)

Keep going folks!

All the best,
~Craig










Thursday, March 24, 2016

Fear and Loathing in the US: Active Shooters & Terrorism.

Craig Gray (me) Teaching an Active Shooter Defense Training Seminar in Grand Rapids, MI - USA

Brussels attacks: Zaventem and Maelbeek bombs kill many


More than 30 people are believed to have been killed and dozens injured in attacks at Brussels international airport and a city metro station.

Twin blasts hit Zaventem airport at about 07:00 GMT, with 11 people reported killed.
Another explosion struck Maelbeek metro station near EU headquarters an hour later, leaving about 20 people dead.

BBC News Report 3/22/2016


A Day After the San Bernardino Shooting

A man and a woman shot and killed 14 people at a social-services center in California on Wednesday, Dec. 2nd 2015.


The shooters have been identified by police as 28-year-old Syed Rizwan Farook and 27-year-old Tashfeen Malik. The married couple who killed 14 people and wounded 21 others at a social-services center in San Bernardino, California, fired up to 75 rounds in the attack, left behind three pipe bombs that had been rigged together, and had thousands of rounds of ammunition on them and at their home, officials said.

Authorities discovered more than 3,000 rounds of ammunition, as well as 12 pipe bombs, and other tools, he said.

“There was obviously a mission here,” David Bowdich, assistant director of the FBI’s Los Angeles office, said at the news briefing. 

~The Atlantic 


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Active shooters and terrorist attacks are both hot topics in today's media and our minds. This past Sunday I just taught an Active Shooter/Terrorist Attack defense seminar. We had about 40 people which is about double our usual seminar attendance http://www.roninempowermentgroup.com/seminars-workshops/.  Are people are looking for answers or do they seek something else?

If you pay attention to the news and listen to much of the talk about the violence in the world it's easy to get a bit paranoid and freaked out. Yes, terrorism and active shooting events are horrible and seem to be on the rise, but what does that really mean for you, your loved ones, your business, your life? 

The numbers vary regarding the likelihood of being involved in a terrorist or active shooting attack. Ranging from a 1 in 1.5 million chance to upwards of a 1 in 40 million chance of being involved in one of these terrifying incidents, one thing is clear, the chances are very slim. So why do we focus on it and worry about it so much? Why are we so reactive? Why the panic? Why do we spend so much of our emotional energy on it, when most of us are much more likely to die in a car crash, but we drive multiple times a day and don't vex over the between 1 in 5000 chance to 1 in 40,000 chance of being killed in a car wreck?

Regardless of the exact stats, the chances are more likely that you will be taken out by disease or a car accident, rather than an active shooter or terrorist. 

According to an article written by the Philly News: Psychologist Judy Beck, says that we start out with an unrealistic view of the world - the belief that we're safe all the time.

"Most of us go around with a myth that we're pretty invulnerable - that things like car accidents and crime aren't going to happen to us," says Beck, director of the Beck Institute for Cognitive Therapy.

"When something like this happens, we completely flip to thinking we're completely vulnerable."

In other words, we go from an unrealistic sense of security to an unrealistic sense of danger. We're not grounded in reality from the start.

One reason, says Beck, is that we're brought up to believe that if we play it smart, we'll be OK. "A lot of people have the notion that if they lead good lives, good things should happen to them," says Beck.

We often say that the victim of random violence was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. But the problem, says criminal-justice professor Jack Greene, is that we really don't know where the right place is.

You know you can cut your risk, for example, by not using ATMs at night, he says. But how can you assess the risk of loading groceries into you car in a suburban supermarket parking lot?

"All of a sudden you put this overlay of randomness," on your risk assessment, says Greene, a researcher at Temple University. "We have no way as a society to predict these things. As much as people think they have control over their lives, there's still this random card out there, and it inspires fear in people."

Our sense of the social order, and our belief that we can control it, "dissolves in an instant when something like this happens," says Greene. "It throws us all back together in our primal vulnerability."

~Philly News


Sometimes even stranger things happen and lightening can strike twice! What are the odds of something like this happening?

Woman who survived Toronto shooting only to be killed in 'Dark Knight' rampage mourned


Jessica Ghawi, 24, was among 12 people shot dead early Friday morning when gunfire erupted at a midnight screening of Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colo.



However, fate works both ways:

Talk about lucky! Man wins lottery twice in one day

  USA Today, Dec. 4, 2012


Meadows won $1,000 on the first try, so he decided to play again.

"He bought the last three and the third one that was the $10 million," 


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Call it destiny, luck, karma, the will of the universe, an act of God, a miracle, whatever. Sometimes shit just happens. Sometimes it's good and other times not so much. 

When it comes to the bad stuff, overall people want to feel:
  • Safe
  • A Sense of Power
  • A Sense of Control
  • A Sense of Order & Predictability

If we don't feel this way, we tend to become anxious and emotional until we can reestablish some equilibrium regarding our psychological / emotional state.

One of the things that I noticed when spending time in Israel, where terrorist attacks are much more prevalent than here in the U.S. (some sources say that there are times where attempted terrorist attacks can range from dozens to over fifty per day) that people adapt and "get used to it." 

Getting "used to it" doesn't mean liking it, agreeing with it, not doing anything about it, being naive or overly idealistic. Quite the contrary. It is simply not letting it shake you so deeply that you live in fear and become less effective at dealing with the situation. 

Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl had many wise words and among them is this quote about choice:




Have a healthy attitude, prepare, get good training, have a plan, maintain and sustain, be ready to do what you can when you can, but also breathe, relax and have faith. Live a life that is complete everyday because none of us are going to be here forever. Make sure to show those you care about how much you love them. Strive for most good / least harm for everyone in everything that you do as best as you can.  Try to leave this world a little better than you left it. Make decisions that you can live with. Live a life worth living, so, when the time comes where you or someone you care about is taken from this earth you can have some sense of closure and be as good with things as one can be. 


During March's seminar we discussed having the proper attitude, awareness and ability to act:


ATTITUDE: 
  • You are a Protector, a Survivor
  • Use Conflict as an Opportunity
  • Protect Life
  • Don't Act Like a Victim
  • Set the Pace
  • Be a Leader
  • Make Decisions that You Can Live With
  • Prepare
  • Train
  • Live an Empowered Life
  • Don't Let Fear Control You

AWARENESS:


Yourself: Understand your current emotional state, your skills, your strengths, your weaknesses, your tools.

Potential Threats & The Environment: Although we can talk about many things here, the main thing when it comes to violence like this, look for things that just "aren't right." Details that seem out of place or don't fit. And as Gavin Debecker author of The Gift of Fear says, "Listen to your gut, your intuition."

  • Why is that guy wearing a bulky jacket in the middle of the summer? 
  • What are those wires sticking out of that persons pocket?
  • Why is that car is parked in a place it shouldn't be. 
  • That woman looks nervous, she keeps looking around her and checking her pocket.
  • Why would someone leave a backpack there?
  • Why is this guy hanging around this area so much?
  • My coworker told me that I better "watch my back." 
  • I saw on my employees internet history that he was googling how to make bombs.
  • A student hasn't been treating others respectfully. He keeps putting everyone down.


APPROPRIATE ACTION:

A terrorist or active shooter event is a overwhelming and extreme situation: Do the best you can and be good with your choices.

Appropriate Action could be any one of a million things depending on the totality of the circumstance. Basically, do the right thing at the right time for the right reason. Most good / least harm. Whatever choice you make be good with it (as much as humanly possible). If you choose to round up as many people as you can to escape, or simply flee alone, be good with that. If you have the chance to tackle the gunman because he's right next to you as he opens fire on the unsuspecting crowd, and you decide to do that to save others lives, then commit completely and the rest is in fates hands. If you hear explosions limiting your escape and there's gun fire in the hall adjacent to your room; maybe locking the door, barricading the entrance, and escaping out a window would save you and the others in the room? Maybe that's not an option - the window is on the 5th floor, the window is too small or nonexistent... then locking, barricading and turning out the lights waiting to surprise and jump the threat when he tries to enter the room, may be your best chance to survive. 

Whatever you do, be good with your decision. No matter how it turns out, be confident that you are making the best decision you can at the time under the circumstance. Regrets are hard to live with, so it's best to clarify as much as you can before the situation occurs. Remember, fire drills are only effective when people do them before the emergency happens. As Gary Klugiewicz, Director of the Verbal Defense & Influence says, "We call them fire drills, not fire talks, because we have to train them, not just talk about them." Talking about what you would do is different than physically training.

Two attendee's at the March 20th seminar (Tim & John Walker) noted that we advocated the following strategic choices when it came to being caught in an active shooter or terrorist event: 

Away: Get away if you can and choose to.

Attack: If given the chance by circumstance and proximity (and you choose to), then aggressively take the fight to the threat.

Ambush: If you cannot (or choose not to) get away and cannot immediately attack, then find cover and take a position to prepare to overtake the threat by surprise via barricading and ambushing. 


"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

~Benjamin Franklin 


Prevention and early detection is preferable to having to deal with an event that is in progress, but sometimes things happen in life that we didn't want or expect and we just have to deal with it the best we can. Even with training and trying to do all of the right things, we get caught in situations that can be overwhelming and don't always turn out perfect. I often say, "sucks or sucks worse." 
Friend, IDF Major and counter terrorism expert Elliot Chodoff says, "Most people don't have a problem when making a choice that is good vs, bad, they struggle with making the choice between bad vs. worse." 

When I think about situations like these, whatever it may be, the serenity prayer is something that comes to my mind.

 
No, this is not my tattoo. I like the prayer, but...


I don't know about you, but this is why I train, not just to have a plan, but to not live in fear. I do this so that I have the clarity and strength enough to be more loving, kind, flexible, resilient, happy, optimistic, yet realistic in my life. So, I can see the good in people, even when I have to deal with all of the bad. So, whenever I am in a tight situation where good, hard decisions need to be made in an instant, I have a better chance to make the right choice. The one that saves lives, even if that means taking another. Not out of hate, but because there were no other options left based on the persons behavior. To stand up for and protect people who can't protect themselves. To love my enemy even if I have to remove them from this earth. So that I have less regret and a better life. To LIVE, PROTECT & INSPIRE until my time comes to an end.

Where ever you go everyone is a little safer because you are there.
Where ever you are someone in need has a friend.
When ever you come home everyone is glad that you are there.

It's a better life.

~Robert Humphrey


Keep going,
~Craig

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Pick Your Battles

 

Quite a few years ago I was asked to fill in on an executive protection assignment for a mid-level politician. One of the team members was sick and the team needed someone to fill in at the last minute. At the time I was training several guys from the industry and "someone knew someone" who referred me in.  I had worked with these guys a few times before. We got along. Although it wasn't a full time gig for me; I was young, liked the adventure of it and the money was good; so I typically jumped at the chance to make a quick $500 bucks for a nights worth of work.

The assignment was pretty straight forward; take the principal to the event; keep an eye on things; escort him out and take him home. Simple. An easy way to make $500.

The event went without incident until the team I was working with went to escort the principal back to his vehicle. The exit strategy that we had planned was overridden by our principal who decided that he wanted to be more discrete, avoiding the press and fanfare of the front entrance. He wanted to go straight to the vehicle.

The car was parked in a parking ramp adjacent the building. Rather than pulling the car around to pick up our principal, he insisted that we go straight to the car. We suggested that we would rather not handle it this way, among other things, there was a concert being held nearby and we knew that although we were in a reserved area in the parking ramp we would have to go through an area that may be frequented by concert goers and other "unknowns." Although we strongly recommended that we find other means of vacating the premises, the principal insisted on going straight to the car. The team leader reluctantly agreed, so that became our new plan.

There were three of us on the team: The lead, the driver and me. The driver took the front as we wound our way through the building navigating toward the car. I stuck to the principal and the third member trailed slightly behind.

Things were going smoothly as we made it to the parking ramp. The driver moved ahead of the principal and me to open and start the car. We heard noise coming from our right a little down the way. I pick up the pace, moving the principal toward the car. "Smith," noticed the noise too, however rather than providing cover and just making sure that the principal and I got to the car without incident, he ran interference. He decided to engage with the three young guys whose interaction suddenly erupted into a fight.

Upon seeing this, I rushed the principal into the car, opened the door and quickly got him in. This all happened in seconds. I remember looking back toward Smith and telling him to "Come on." I couldn't hear what Smith was saying, but I did see that two of the the guys fighting took off and the one left behind took a swing at Smith.

Bad move I thought... Smith was about 6'3'', weighing a lean 220lbs. He was an Army Vet who saw time in the first war with Iraq, he competed in MMA, was a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and a good Muay Thai boxer. Not to mention he was carrying a sweet Sig Sauer P225 9mm, that I not so secretly coveted.

Smith easily blocked the wild right that came toward his head, but instead of making quick work of things, or disengaging completely, he responded in the way that his hundreds of hours of sport training had conditioned him. After blocking the strike, Smith smoothly entered, grabbing the much smaller man in a center attach Muay Thai clinch.

From my training, I knew what Smith was going to do next: He was going to destroy the kid with a flurry of powerful knees to his mid-secton, followed by an elbow or three, finishing with a circular "rodeo" style head takedown, which uses your opponents head like the horns of a steer. Cowboys use this same twist to render a thousand pound bull helpless as it is thrown to the ground.

I don't know if Smith even really thought about it, he just responded. But the attacker didn't respond like he was expected to. What it looked like to me was that he quickly punched Smith five or six times in the abdomen before breaking free of the grip and running away into the night.

This literally all happened in an instant. I turned my head to the principal, the car began moving forward and Smith was already semi-jogging toward the car. He jumped in and as the words, "what the fuck were you thinking?" left my lips, I noticed that he was sweating like a hog and extremely pale. His mouth was slack jawed and his eyes were quickly becoming vacant.

He was perfectly fine a minute ago, what happened? I quickly thought to myself.

"What's wrong Smith?" I said.

"Are you hurt?"

"I don't feel right," He said.

Hearing this I told him to unbutton his shirt. We didn't see any blood at first, but once he pulled his vest up I could see the blood on his white t-shirt. What we thought was the attacker punching Smith in the ribs turned out to be him getting stabbed.

Once the haze of the situation and adrenaline began to subside, Smith began to chant,
"I can't believe the little fucker stabbed me. I can't believe I got stabbed. I can't believe he did that."

If they would have been in the ring (or cage), Smith would have undoubtedly decimated this guy, but real life isn't sport.

The driver who was familiar with the area was already headed toward the nearest ER, which luckily was only a couple minutes away.  Smith's anger and military experience helped to keep him from going  into shock. We kept pressure on his wounds until we got him to the hospital. It turned out that he got stabbed five times in the torso. Luckily only one of the five wounds nicked his kidney, the others missed his organs and any major arteries. Most of the stab wounds were fairly shallow. It was Smiths lucky night.

After we got Smith help, we took the principal home. He was a little shaken up, but fine. After a couple surgeries, Smith, ended up ok as well.

Although there are a number of lessons here, here's what I thought was the most important:

Pick your battles Wisely

First, not every conflict needs to be resolved, so don't stick your nose somewhere it doesn't belong. In other words, choose your battles wisely. In this situation it wasn't our place to act as security for anyone other than our principal. Even if someone decided to intervene, it could have been done in another way that may have had a different (better) result. There are other things that could have been done to break up the guys who were causing the ruckus, and at the same time protect the principal and ourselves. Smith treated this real engagement like he did a sporting event. He trained for sport type interactions and his tactics reflected this under pressure. Smith and his assailant were playing different "games."  This could've easily cost Smith his life. Don't make this same mistake. Just because things have similarities, it doesn't mean that they are the same. Olympic swimmers and lifeguards both swim, but aside from that, they probably have more differences than similarities.

Although this is an extreme example, be mindful how you pick your battles in your everyday life. If you do choose to engage, pick your tactics carefully and appropriately. Does every decision that your business partner makes on behalf of the company need to be addressed? What decisions can each of you make where you trust the others judgement? Do you have to make your teenager obey every single command or suggestion that you make because you are their parent, or is there some leeway? What is worth putting your foot down on and what can you let go? Could you pull someone over for doing 3 mph over the speed limit?! Should you? It depends on the totality of the situation... You get the idea.

What are you doing to help resolve a situation vs. feed your ego or control freak tendencies? Be strategic, learn to understand what needs to be resolved, what needs to be managed and what can just be ignored. Choose wisely!

Keep going!
~Craig