The autumn leaves are falling like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are always two cups at my table.

T’ang Dynasty poem

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Staying Calm Under Pressure

Staying calm under pressure is an important quality. Maybe a bomb disposal specialist may have something to say about this. The Observer had an article about this.

Below is an excerpt. The full article may be read here.

We’d all like to know how to stay calm under pressure. Sure, I could pull a bunch of research studies on it and just summarize those for you. But that always leaves the lingering question: “But does this stuff work in the real world?”

So who really knows about being cool as a cucumber under the most intense pressure imaginable? I’d read that when top bomb disposal experts approach a device designed to kill them, their heart rate actually goes down. Folks, I think we have a winner…

So I called a Navy EOD Team Leader.

Navy EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) isn’t like your average police department’s bomb disposal unit. These guys defuse torpedoes—while underwater. They disable biological weapons, chemical weapons…even nuclear weapons.

For security purposes our friend requested to remain anonymous. He’s been deployed in both Iraq and Afghanistan and faced some things that are—quite literally—the stuff of nightmares. Repeatedly.
So what can you and I learn from him? How do you stay chill, keep your focus and make tough decisions when facing the most intense pressure imaginable?

Let’s get to it…

Avoid “The Rabbit Hole” And Do A Threat Assessment

Something’s going wrong. You’re worried and your mind starts to race. Your old friend Panic is nuzzling up to you and wants to snuggle. Your brain starts asking, “What if X happens? What if Y happens? What if? What if? What if?”

Navy EOD techs refer to this as “the rabbit hole.” And if you go down it, things are going to get very bad very fast. Here’s our EOD Team Leader:
With any device that’s improvised we talk about “rabbit holes.” You can go down the rabbit hole of “What if they put in this? What if they included this bit of circuitry or this kind of switch or this crazy new device or circuit board or whatever?” The opportunities for people to construct new and ingenious and totally insidious IEDs is just infinite. It’s possible when you’re looking at the device to go down a rabbit hole of “It could be this, it could be this, it could be these 10,000 different things…”

You need to avoid going down the “rabbit hole” and do what Navy EOD techs call a “threat assessment.” That means looking objectively at the situation and asking, “What kind of problem is this?”

Think about a similar situation you’ve been in before that looked like this one. How did you resolve it? What worked? Maybe you’ve never been in a situation exactly like the current one, but that’s okay. Generalize. You’ve probably dealt with something that was kinda similar or you’ve seen someone else do it.

Leveraging experience is what makes the top Navy EODs able to stay calm and size up a terrifying situation before they’ve even approached the explosive device. Here’s our EOD Team Leader:
They develop this sixth sense about what’s going on. Some of the guys had seen and prosecuted 300 or 400 devices. It was amazing what they could tell you before they ever saw the device. “This device is probably just a pressure plate, maybe with an S and A switch. There’s a possible secondary back-up waiting for us if we were to go at it from this angle.” They would just be able to tell that from merely looking at the situation.


ms_lili said...

Good post and good advice. You can read all you want about things, but actually experiencing situations is where you get your wisdom. Unfortunately that means putting yourself into potentially explosive -- even if figuratively rather than literally -- situations. There's no way around what is called "in vivo teaching". What is important to remember is to have what I will call seasoned warriors at your side at first to make sure you survive long enough to get enough wisdom to go it alone. As the writer says, once you've been through a zillion of these situations, the assessment protocol does become 6th sense to a large extent. Once your 6th sense gets a handle on the situation, it would make sense that your heart rate would go down. A caveat: there always needs to be a part of you that is still on alert, as sometimes one slips past the radar.

Rick Matz said...

Awareness is the first layer of self defense.

Compass Architect said...

People can read and describe what awareness is, all day, all night. There are different means to developing it. (I am not an expert to this area. However, I have met people who are hyper sensitive to relevant events.)

After many discussions, my conclusion is that the key to being strategically aware is to become attentive to all relevant matters from ground up.

The sixth sense only works when one has developed an acceptable base for the gut instinct to work from. ...

It all begins w/ what one consumes for food. ... We are what we eat.