by Gregory J. Nolan
It’s important that I preface this article with a few thoughts: my heart goes out to those who lost their lives to the terrorist act in Orlando this past weekend, as well as to the family and friends of these victims as they mourn such tragic loss. The intent of this article is not, in any way shape or form, to accuse the victims or the staff/management of Pulse of failing in any way. Rather, going forward, Orlando is a reminder of our reality: that we live in a world where malicious minds abound, and if there’s a will to cause harm, these minds will find a way. The purpose of this article is to help you prepare your mentality should you find yourself face to face with such malice and reassure you that, even in the throes of danger and chaos, mental dominance of the threat greatly increases your ability to handle the situation.
To reiterate, we do not need to examine the narrative of the terrorist attack at Pulse in Orlando; we do not need to ask, “what could have been done?” It is unfair to those affected by this tragedy to toss stones and leverage political agendas. A malicious mind carried out an awful act of terrorism – he wasn’t the first, and he won’t likely be the last.
So what can we do as we come to terms with this unfortunate truth? We can prepare. But in our preparation, we cannot be afraid. Fear and paranoia are precisely what the terrorists want, as these mentalities further their agendas and render us unable to effectively react to future attacks. It is possible to foster a prepared, self-preserving mentality without living in a perpetual state of fear. Here’s how:
1. Acknowledge the Threat Reality
You may never be able to recognize the threat, as it can take innumerable forms. You may never be able to identify a life-threatening situation before you’re in it. Despite the reality of both statements, you can always prepare yourself to react. Coming to terms with the reality of the threat environment is the first step towards a mentality that could save your life.
Again – do not adopt a mentality of fear and paranoia. Neither are productive in preparing your mind for the threat environment. However, equally as important – do no adopt a mentality of ignorance and “It’ll never happen to me”. Recognize that the threat is real – that although a terrorist act is typically perpetrated against a specific target, danger doesn’t discriminate.
2. Float Between the Yellow and Orange
Jeff Cooper, a United States Marine, created the Cooper Color Code. This color code was originally created by Cooper to describe states of mind, and was later given a tactical/military context (the Marine Corps even created an additional color – black – which I will explain along with the other colors shortly).
Every Marine knows the Cooper Color Code and it’s pertinence to the “combat mindset”. Despite the military context of this tool, there is an irrefutable application for it in every day life for every human on Earth. Here’s a breakdown of the Cooper Color Code's state of mind levels (with the Marine Corps’ addition of “Black”) and my interpretation of each level as it applies to mental preparedness:
As the title of this section notes – the best place to be in Cooper’s spectrum is somewhere in between Yellow and Orange. In Yellow, you may be alert, but you aren’t thinking of a specific threat. In Orange, you are alerted to a specific threat and you’re ready to react. Striking a balance between the two is a matter of staying informed, which I will speak to next.
3. Stay Informed
Knowledge truly is power. Although even the most sophisticated intelligence organizations cannot predict and prevent every threat, simply staying informed of the threat environment can equip you with a potentially life-saving mentality. Merely knowing of a threat before it occurs can improve your chances of survival - so keep your finger on the threat’s pulse. Across the internet, from social media to open source government websites, you can find an abundance of useful, threat-informing resources. Here are a few:
As we move forward together in this uncertain world, we must remember not to be afraid. Go check out that museum with your family, rock out at the concert with your friends, get pumped in the stadium for your favorite sports team - do it all with a sense of confidence, because you’ve prepared, and your mentality is unshakeable.
Greg is the President & CEO of G2 Intelligence Solutions, and a former active duty US Marine officer and force protection specialist