I would like to take some time to recognize something I feel is very important and a hang up for a lot of people. Modern media has glamorized (in some respects rightly so) our Special Operations warriors and other top professionals from the ranks of the DOD and State Department. I will be the first to say these professionals are highly deserving of the positions they have earned. It takes hard work and dedication seldom called upon in most lives to achieve these lofty goals. If you drop these types of people in any situation even without their top tier training they would be successful. The training hones their natural traits, but make no mistake in order to reach their peak will be a whole lot of training. I spoke about seeking truth in an earlier post and I would like to broach the subject again. It doesn’t matter what nicknames are used, call signs, terms or modern lingo is used to describe training, schools, or actions. Using the correct military terms to describe a plan of action would profit very little if the person to whom you are addressing has no knowledge of military vernacular. That being said I will try to avoid jargon understood by a few in order to get my messages across to the broadest cross section of people possible.
So, let’s get wade through all the terms and technicalities and get to the simple truth behind it all. Most people can train their bodies to do almost everything. Lift heavy weight, run miles and miles or hold their breath for minutes on end. The aspect most ignore is the most important cog in the wheel to the top. Psychological fortitude. Let me also say that the training regimes set out by the government have had years and millions of dollars to develop. It will take an inhuman amount of passion and drive to accomplish a goal of peak mental performance. Can it be done, yes it can. Like most retired military will say, if you have a passion for shooting (for example) you will learn more as a civilian and be a better marksman than most will achieve in their military career. The fact that being a true student with the openness to learn and a thirst for more will compel you to become great.
For those curious souls among you and this may surprise you, if you think a physical training regime like CrossFit will get you ready, you will want to reconsider. It’s not about being what you think of as in shape or fit. It is about having the mental fortitude to endure and force yourself to stay in a situation when your mind is yelling at you to get out of. Psychological fitness is paramount; the added benefit of physical fitness is the icing. Let’s take a moment to detail why the mind is so important and fitness, while needed, is not the absolute. If you were to study the typical training day of America’s top warriors you would discover the science that goes beyond fitness and prepares as well as tunes the mind for making the best decision every time in the middle of the worst situations. Sitting at your computer it can seem like a trivial thing. Do the decision you make really save your life? Yes! Does it really take making the right decision every time to save your life? Yes! How can we prepare ourselves for making the right decision every time. A method called stress inoculation can be a start.
Stress Inoculation and the Decision Making Science
Putting yourself in a situation where you are sleep deprived, and have to use your brain to think so you can make critical decisions and not simply make decisions, but make the right decision to stay out of harm’s way. This is a lot of stress for any person. This is often called stress inoculation. This mild exposure to stress prepares those for the adrenaline rush they will experience while in a critical life junction. This is not for everyone. However, you would be preparing to think on your feet in a hostile environment with the odds stacked against you.
The question is why do people make it and others not given like scenarios. They train their brain to make better decisions under duress (passively or actively).
It’s all about how you make decisions. Those going through mental training must force their brains to make rational decisions. This parallels to the utility model of decision making. The utility model assumes rational behavior on the part of the decision maker in evaluating the likelihood of assessing the consequences, alternatives, weighing or multiplying the utilities, and choosing the option with the highest expected utility. The person making the decision is central because this is subjective. Most people using this model to make a decision tend to look at the whole picture and weigh their choices. The second decision-making model is bounded rationality and satisficing algorithm. Bounded rationality is choice processes that are as rational as they can be, given cognitive limitations on the amount of information we can process. Our choices are as rational as they are going to be based on the accessible information . Satisficing, is a method that finds maybe not the best possibility, but one that is good enough to meet the criterion of the decision maker. This type of decision making takes very little effort, and often results in less than optimal or desired outcomes. It is biased by the order in which possible options are encountered. This type of processing is better for everyday decision making, not making life altering decisions. Please note, satisficing is an algorithm, a step-by-step way for making decisions.
People who use the satisficing algorithm tend to not make the most optimal decision. Why it that? Because when they look at all the discomforts, pain, fear and if they are failing,they can easily say, “What’s the point of going through this? If I leave now, I will get relief from this torture.” Let’s not confuse this with being weak minded. Simply they are looking for instant gratification, or what will work best in the now. Those using the utility model are looking at all angles, thoughts like,“the discomfort will end,” and “I know what my long-term result will be.” These people tend to stick it out. They are methodical in their thinking, and in most cases, these are people you would want to be stuck on a desert island with. Nothing can prepare you with what will happen to you in while you train. You must train your brain to make the best decisions while under duress, embrace the suck. This is no guarantee you will make it through, but it may improve your chances. If you can tip the scales in your favor, wouldn’t you want to take every opportunity to do so?