By Brian Duff
Got Improved Situational Awareness?
Improved situational awareness is not hard to achieve. It can also be a fun and reassuring process that leaves you more confident and ready to deal with all of life’s challenges. Read through the five steps below and give them some thought. When you’re ready, start putting the steps into practice. Don’t forget that the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll lead a more safe, secure, and prepared life. If you get hung up or have any questions, please feel free to email. I’d love to hear from you and help improve your Mind4Survival.
Step 1: “What If?”
As you go about your day, look at things and people around you and ask, “What if?”
…my child becomes ill, and the car won’t start?
…I find an older adult lost and unable to remember where he or she is?
…a car crosses the median headed straight towards me?
…I find myself faced with a significant unexpected expense?
… etc., etc., etc. Keep thinking up new scenarios, and you’ll keep improving.
You can come up with mountains of possibilities. When you’re stumped, turn to the news media for help thinking of new what-if situations. Whether it’s on the Internet, on television, or elsewhere, there is an endless number of possible scenarios out there. These stories are often very unfortunate events for the people impacted by them. However, you can turn someone else’s unfortunate circumstance into a positive learning experience for you and your family.
The second step to the “What If?” process is to think through your response to your question. By thinking through a potential response, you learn to speed up your OODA Loop’s decision-making process. Not only will you improve your decision-making, but you’ll also learn to make more accurate and efficient decisions.
Once you’ve thought through your potential responses, you need to critique those responses. Make mental notes of the points that you think are bad and the points that are good. Then reevaluate your actions, replacing the bad points with new thoughts and ideas.
As you think through all of this, you will begin formulating innate, quick-to-put-in-action responses to potential situations. These responses will continually get better, and you’ll execute them more quickly. This process is the mental pre-planning that leads to improved situational awareness.
Step 2: Story Time
Observe people around you and create stories about them. When you’re making up stories, incorporate what they’re wearing, doing, carrying, etc. As you do this, you will teach yourself to notice each person’s details.
By noticing the details, you’ll learn to be more observant and read people better. When you’re more observant, you’ll see if something is out of place or doesn’t seem right. You will also improve your ability to pick up on a person’s non-verbal communication.
Once you’ve become good at creating and telling a story about one person, add more people to the mix. This time, include information about how they relate to one another, what is happening in their lives, and what their motivations may be within your story.
The more details you notice, the more dynamic your story, and the more your improved situational awareness will prepare you to help yourself or notice someone in need.
Step 3: Make a Plan
Now that you’ve begun asking yourself “What if?” and creating stories about people, it’s time to take action. Taking action means formulating plans to the situations and stories you’re running through in your mind. For some problems, such as a house fire, write them down.
Writing them down, even if it is in simple bullet point format, helps you refine your plan even more. Sometimes writing a plan down provides a visual cue if there is a weakness. It also helps you commit your plan to memory.
Once you have a written or mental plan, share it with your family and friends. Rather than telling them what you’re going to do, pose the scenario to them. Let them say what they would do. They may provide you with an idea you never thought of. Also, by asking someone for their thoughts rather than pushing yours on them, you get their buy-in.
Getting their buy-in helps them to become active and willing participants. When they become active participants, they not only help you sort out your plan, but they increase their situational awareness too. See, you have barely started, and you’re already helping others. That’s totally awesome!
Step 4: Practice Makes Perfect
So, you have your plans, you’ve included others, and you think you’re just about there. Congratulations, you are. You’re on the road to improved situational awareness. Now, it’s time to fine-tune what you’ve done.
Fine tuning your situational awareness is accomplished in a variety of ways. One way is to practice your plans. Another way is to get training in areas that you may be weak.
If you have a home fire plan, go over it with your family and run a fire drill. Remember one thing when practicing your plans and training: crawl, walk, run. The first time you try the plan, choreograph it with everyone and walk through it. Ask questions about the plan so those participating have to think and provide feedback. While they do, others will learn, too.
Next, try the plan at a little faster speed, with less interaction to see how everyone is doing. As you pick up the pace, expect there to be some mistakes. That’s fine because everyone is learning and working to improve.
Finally, run through it at speed. Make it fun. See who can beat their previous time. If they do, praise them and reward yourselves with some family fun.
Remember, this should be a learning experience and something fun. If someone gets an answer wrong or does something incorrectly, you should provide positive reinforcement so they stay interested and engaged. Keep them motivated and excited. When you do, you and those around you will find you all have improved situational awareness.
As you go over all of this and think it through, you may find that you lack experience or ability in some areas. If you do, consider seeking training. Training is a good way to close the gaps in areas that are lacking. Training doesn’t have to be costly. If you want to learn first aid, find a Red Cross course or some other inexpensive resource. If you’re on a tight budget, do a search on YouTube or any number of websites for your topic. Once you have the information and understand what you’re doing, teach it to others. When you teach skills to others, you not only help them, but you help them help you, should you be the person in need.
Step 5: Repeat
Now that you’ve run through everything, start at the beginning again. Think about other possible situations. Work on new solutions to old problems. Take a second to look at your plans. See where you can improve or add more options. As you do, you and everyone involved will have improved situational awareness and will enjoy a more safe, secure, and prepared life.
Lastly, never forget, you’re just one prep away.
If you have any other information, suggestions, or thoughts about situational awareness, please leave a comment below.
Stay safe, secure and prepared.