Today's blog is short and sweet but it is a powerful reminder that will help you in being able to more effectively protect yourself. My suggestion for your Warrior Wednesday is this: Whenever you seek out somewhere to train or to get information on, ask yourself this question - does this person focus on results?
What do I mean by focusing on results? Does the person sharing the information with you focus on what actually works to keep you safe or is their mind trapped by the disease of "style"? Too many people in the personal protection world care more about tradition, style, and aesthetics (usually the aesthetics of what makes them look good) rather than focusing on results & outcomes. You can only measure your results if you are focusing on reality.
This lesson applies to any field of study and to all of life. Maybe someone is trying to give you relationship advice - instead of focusing on the person saying it, focus on the outcome; the results. Your internal, mental monologue should sound something like: "If I actually applied what this person is saying in my life, what would the results be?"
It is important to consider the agent, or deliverer of news but at first, focus on the results. Many times, you will discover that the agent has different goals or purposes if you just look at the outcomes first.
In Gavin de Becker's iconic work, The Gift of Fear, he discusses (among many things) how charm is a tactic used to control another person. You will be more likely to avoid falling victim to charm and "smooth-talking" if you focus on what the person is saying rather than focusing on the person.
This is HIGHLY related to your self-protection in many ways. Some criminals are more sophisticated than others, and some have employed agents who do not look as threatening as tools to control you. Example: If you are a woman, and you are approached by a man who says "I lost my dog, could you help me find him?" vs. a woman approaching you with the same problem, which is more likely to concern you? The male. However, just because the one is a female does not mean she is above being malevolent. Sometimes, criminals use deliberate deceptions such as this to lure you into an engagement or situation that you would not have otherwise put yourself into.
I am not advocating universal suspicion of all humans but for the example we shared, keep things in proper context: A person you don't know has approached you seeking your help with something. This may turn out to be just as it appears (a man or woman who sincerely just wants to find their dog) but it could be different. Do not turn your awareness and perception off just because of the agent doing the asking.
Appearances matter, but it is easier to conceal or deceive based on appearance as well. Charm is a tactic, and people who "look a certain way" can be used to gain an advantage on you. Ted Bundy is a classic example: he used charm quite well in luring people to their death.
If you first focus on results and not on the agent saying or doing the thing, you will be more likely to arrive at the truth. The truth is what you want when it comes to keeping yourself safe. I want the truth about whether this person is friend or foe. So should you.
In all things, you would do better to first focus on the proposition itself rather than looking to the person. Keep the full context in sight and ask, "If I did what this person is suggesting, what would the outcome or outcomes be"?
A martial scientist cares about reality, truth and purity. We focus on outcomes and results - will this tactic, strategy, etc. actually work and achieving the goal of survival? Then we consider the person in their particular and individual traits. I recommend the same for you in your own life.
Live in the battleground fellow warrior,
Alexander Lanshe Sensei
I had the great privilege of interviewing Lt. Col. Dave Grossman back in 2015. Col. Grossman is the founder of Killology, former US Army Ranger and is the author of the Pulitzer-Prize Nominated book, On Killing (which was placed on the USMC recommended or required reading list).
I was interviewing him for my newest book on warrior virtue (which shall be released in 2017). Among the discussion of virtue, we discussed other topics relevant for protectors - tactics, mindsets, and strategies. One aspect of violence that the Col. touched on was denial. He illustrated his thoughts on denial the following way:
He mentioned that there have been 0 kids killed by school fire in the last 40-50 years. He then shared that thousands of kids have been murdered by violence in the schools in that same time frame. A typical response to the sharing of this truth is that one is "fear mongering". Or perhaps it isn't "PC" to talk about? However, I argue that it is those who willfully deny the truth that we should fear.
Think about it, what could be more harmful to future children than to deny reality? If thousands of children really have been murdered by violence in the schools, shouldn't we face that reality and then combat it? Denial is the very thing that will lead to more deaths and tragic consequences.
In my opinion, the death knell of political correctness is the law of cause and effect (The Law of C&E) - the iron chain of reasoning that leads from one thing to another. The Law of C&E can only be denied for so long thanks to the Law's child - consequences. Cause and Effect marry and their children are Consequences.
The consequences show us what happens when we continue to deny a particular aspect of reality. However, as long as you are denying reality, you cannot address the problem or seek a solution.
Denial is the thing that will get you killed. Denial is expressed by us in many ways all throughout life. When it comes to violence, denial rarely serves to benefit us (I say 'rarely' simply to cover my bases but at this time, I cannot think of a way in which denial of reality serves to help you).
Denial can lead to lack of preparation. Lack of preparation can lead to your victimization due to that very lack of preparedness. The truth is, many (maybe even most) interpersonal violence can be prevented if you took some simple, preparatory steps to do so. However, if denial stops you from paying attention when you go out, from carrying a weapon or tool to protect yourself, or from telling your family or friends about how to stay safe while they travel, then that very denial could be the reason you (or someone else) ends up suffering the consequences.
The Col. is famously quoted as saying, "Preparation cures paranoia - it's denial that gets us killed." I couldn't agree more. My own private clients and students report a decrease in personal anxiety and an increase in personal calm after having been trained in personal protection. They report feeling more peace of mind now that they know how to handle a firearm or other tool to keep themselves safe. They experience these benefits because they did not live in denial – they admitted violence was real and they sought help by finding a good instructor.
Some try to scare you into thinking that if you admit violence is real, you will suffer a panic attack or your nerves will be shot, etc. My clients report the opposite. The more they train, the more knowledge they acquire, the more they hone their protective skills, the more peaceful, calm and comfortable they feel.
The more prepared you become for violence, the less power the anxiety and worry surrounding violence will have over your life. But you cannot prepare if you deny reality. Face reality today so that you can prepare so that you can begin to acquire real peace that comes through action.
Don't let denial be a potent enemy in your life. Crush it by taking action. What action do I recommend? Find good personal protection training. Do not settle until you find reality, truth and purity.
Until next time my fellow warrior, live in the battleground,
Alexander Lanshe Sensei
In my efforts to discover what the core virtues and characteristics of a warrior are, I have interviewed 76 professional protectors who have walked the talk. They have come from various fields; military of all branches and specialties, police officers of all ranks and positions, authors, scientists, writers, etc.
If these interviews have taught me anything it is that virtue is hard to put into words. We all recognize it when we see it, but few can succinctly capture it and translate that action into language. This frustrates the writer in me but it also pleases the protector in me. It pleases the protector in me because it has served to remind me that action and behavior trump words and thoughts. In the real world, choosing to be a protector means taking some actions and upgrading some behaviors to get real results - i.e.: the preservation of life.
The reason I am writing this blog is simply to remind you to take action. Go out and DO something about making your world a little safer. No amount of intention, thinking, talking or writing will make you safer unless you finally put something into practice.
The problem with virtue I have discovered is that it must be done, performed. There is no shortcut. If there is no action, there is no virtue. In other words, you are not just how you feel or how you think, you are as you do.
Just as no amount of thinking about exercise will give you the benefits of exercise, no amount of thinking of virtue will give you the benefits of virtue. It must be done, performed.
Perhaps you want to know how to be a virtuous person? Well my friend, the answer is simple, do the thing you desire to be. If you wish to be more patient, the next time something is annoying you, focus on bearing it patiently. If you desire to be more courageous, the next time an opportunity arises that requires courage, seize that opportunity.
Just as when you first start lifting weights, start small. The first squat is painful, difficult, and takes much effort. But if you are diligent, over time, that squat will become easier and easier. Suddenly you are squatting with a barbell, then you are adding weights to that barbell - if you remain diligent and faithful in your action.
Virtue is the same my fellow warrior. Do not be discouraged in your early application. For you will have much inertia to overcome and your virtue "muscles" may be weak. Start with something small, something that can be an easy victory for you. Success is more important in the beginning than anything else. Early success creates momentum. Momentum creates follow-through and perseverance. Perseverance leads to an upgraded life and character.
An important lesson I was taught was 'consistency is key'. I had to learn this the hard way. I used to think that if I was smart enough, I could skip steps. That I could jump ahead or cut through the path of character & virtue. But I was wrong. Anyone can practice virtue for a short, sporadic burst. An acute case that passes as quickly as it arose. I do not want to be like this and I don't believe you do either. I believe you want long-lasting change, you want to be a better person. Then start being virtuous now.
It is written in a very wise book that if you are faithful in the little things, you will be given greater things to be faithful over. Virtue is like that. Work diligently in the little things of your character, and soon, you will be given more to manage.
Get out of your head and start doing. A warrior takes action. Your actions will increase or decrease virtue. How your virtues increase or decrease will determine your character.
Live in the battleground my friend,
Alexander Lanshe Sensei
"Thou ougthst in every action and thought so to order thyself as if thou wert immediately to die." - St. Thomas a Kempis; Imitation of Christ
Death. We all know we must face it one day. And yet you are most likely just as I; a person to whom death seems so very far off. So distant. So far away.
For some perhaps this is true but for others death is very near. In the scope of eternity, death is near for all. How is it then that we all live as if death cannot touch us?
An ancient Greek philosopher by the name of Seneca wrote a work called, "On the Shortness of Life" dealing with this very issue. Don't you say it to your friends all the time, "Man, life is too short." Indeed. How can it be that you and I know this and yet we live as if death does not exist?
I believe in part it is a safety mechanism for survival. If we were to contemplate death constantly it could cripple us and render what life we do have as not worth living in the first place. However, to never contemplate death poses its own problems. Let me explain:
If you fail to contemplate death, you might believe that a proverbial "second chance" to make things better will always follow. A "second chance" to say "I'm sorry" to your wife or husband. A "second chance" to stop working so much and sit down with your child and read them a book. The warrior knows that this "second chance" will one day cease to come. One day, there will be no more chances. No more chances for "I'm sorry", "I love you", or "I miss you". Thus, the good warrior treats all moments as if they are to be his last.
This all seems rather grim but I assert that all depends on your perspective. As I wrote in Chapter 8 of my book, Warrior Attitude: 21 Ways to Think and Act Like a Warrior That Will Transform Your Outlook on Life: "Keeping death constantly before your eyes serves to motivate rather than demotivate."
How is this so? Let me share with you how I see it. If you view each moment and each task as the last time you will ever do that thing, it becomes almost sacred. In truth, every moment we live shall occur only once. We may watch the same movie more than once or eat the same food on many days but each occurrence of that thing is a singular moment that can never be repeated.
Just imagine how your life would change if you viewed each moment with your loved ones as the last time you would see them. How would you treat them? If you envisioned each day at work as your last, how would you work and how would you treat your co-workers or employees(ers)?
For some reason, it is not easy for human beings to stay in this frame of mind very long. We must continually remind ourselves of it. It is a worthwhile task however. For all the minutia becomes more meaningful and it instantly brings you clarity and perspective about what truly matters.
A warrior does his best to live each moment as if he shall die immediately after. If you are unaccustomed to this way of thinking, I implore you to give it a try. When you wake up the next morning and get ready to go to work, actively picture in your mind and maybe even say out loud to yourself: "If this is the last time I shall ever go to work, how do I want to work my last? If this is the last time I shall ever see my co-workers and friends, how do I wish to treat them? If this is the last time I'll kiss my wife goodbye and pat my children on the head as they get up for school, how shall I kiss my wife and how shall pat my children’s heads?” Just think how greatly you would savor each of those moments if you truly convinced yourself that you would never experience them again?
My fellow warrior, do not deceive yourself that you will live forever. No one has conquered time and none ever will. You have then two choices it seems: Go all your life pretending you are immortal and face death with an unready spirit or accept your mortality and prepare to die well.
I leave you with this story my warrior: Once, a long time ago, there lived a holy hermit. His whole life he contemplated death and reminded himself that one day, the Lord would call him home. It came to pass that at the hour of his death, he was beaming with joy. A friend asked him, "How is it that you are so joyful when you shall soon be dead?" The hermit replied, "I have always kept death before my eyes; and therefore, now that it is come, I see in it nothing new."
Live and die in the battleground,
Alexander Lanshe Sensei
P.S. News will be release soon about my upcoming 2nd book. Keep your eyes posted for a special website dedicated entirely to the book and it's promotion. There are many major announcements to make regarding this book and I am very excited to share them with you.
P.P.S. If you know anyone who you feel would benefit from these blogs, please share this blog with them and tell them to fill out the form attached with their name and email so I can add them to the list.
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National Speaker, author, blogger, and life-long student of warrior arts and science.