Look where you want to go. Don’t look where you don’t want to go. Whether it’s a date with someone you desire or an exciting new job opportunity, attitude and intestinal fortitude are necessary ingredients for the stew of life.

Each of us continuously takes in millions of pieces of information every day, the great majority of which is processed unconsciously. Some people take in this information primarily through their five senses—what they see, hear, touch, taste or smell. Others take in information through their sixth sense, focusing not on what is, but rather on what could be. Each of us has the ability to use our senses and our intuition, and we all use both every single day.

Sharpen Your Tools

Intuition is a gift that we humans are born with. We can exercise this function and make it stronger—just like we do with our muscles. Intuition works best when we register what we’ve sensed and then put our five other senses aside. Intuition is our sixth sense, but it’s often stifled by our overdependence on the sensations available from the material world. When we tap into our intuition, decisions that seemed difficult to make suddenly gain more clarity.

In our culture, it is easy to lose connection with the fact that we create every single aspect of our existence. Often, it may be difficult at the time to see how or why, but we do. Of course, this can be a very hard concept to accept as truth. However, in order to get out of being a victim, it is helpful to just go with this for the moment. So bear with me.

Basically, every step we take toward having complete power over our lives is one step away from being a victim, where we have none. Nowadays, we are so connected, plugged in, that we are disconnected. Our situational awareness is nearly nonexistent. We are basically fat, dumb and happy button-pushers. We are comfortable, flaccid, gelatinous and complacent.

Sometimes we have to put the analytical mind aside and allow the body to work as it has for millions of years. We must access our databank’s primal side. As human beings, we were born with natural defense mechanisms. We must give the mind permission to allow these mechanisms to work automatically like they have before. We humans have been here a long time, and though we are no longer hunting mammoths and dodging saber-toothed tigers, danger still lurks around the corners.

Staying Vigilant

Our primal survival instinct is mobility, and mobility equals survivability. Many of us have relinquished our primal survival instincts and are stuck in a 45-degree-syndrome world, with our heads bent 45 degrees toward our smartphones.

Too often I find myself on an airport people mover or rental car shuttle bus, and I am the only one looking around. Everyone else is completely oblivious to his or her surroundings. So, too often, I say to myself, “Well, looks like I’m in charge of security.”

But being eternally vigilant can be exhausting. Being prepared to save your life or someone else’s requires work—sweat equity. We expect our kids to look both ways before crossing the street, but we don’t want to look behind us while at an ATM because we might hurt someone’s feelings. We often relinquish our intuitive nature and do this at great cost to our own safety. Intuitiveness is a gift and a primal instinct that we cannot afford to relinquish. Thankfully, a little situational awareness goes a long way.

Try to see things full spectrum. Perform a focal shift in your everyday life. Look around. Slow down before you park and take a look at the other vehicles in your proximity. See things close and then continue your scan further. Perform a 5- to a 25-meter scan. Slow down before you enter a building or other venue and take a look at others in your proximity. It’s OK. You were born to do this.

A successful assault happens with surprise, speed and violence of action. We can mitigate the surprise by being tuned in or situationally aware. If we take the element of surprise away from a predator, he or she will fear reprisal and forgo the attack.

Whether I am armed or unarmed and enter a venue, I do the same thing. I consider it a possible crisis site. I want to get a pretty good lay of the land. Exits, avenues of approach, choke points, intersections, safe areas, alternate routes, lines of drift—they’re all stored in my databank. I will give people a “once-over” and look for potential assets and liabilities. I will visualize chaos and picture complete bedlam with everyone running for the same exit.

We do not plan to fail, but we do fail to plan, so this visualization becomes a crucial step in disaster preparation. Mentally, we must prepare ourselves to exit without hesitation, if exiting is the safest recourse. We must do this even if this means throwing a table or chair through a window. When pandemonium strikes, there is no time for analysis. Through analysis comes paralysis.

Forget the Flock

If shit does hit the fan, running with the “sheeple” may not be the best course of action. Don’t be victimized by an ocean of people who have their heads up their asses. Lines of drift and likely avenues of approach may be part of a plan with a well-organized adversary who may use a ruse or diversion to send the herd in a desired direction.

Exercise your OODA loop and come up with a quick plan of egress. Sometimes, flanking or egressing at an oblique is more conducive to longevity. Run until you have made it past effective small-arms range or have some good cover. Take a second to assess the situation and to readjust your plan.

Here’s a tip: Ditch the flip flops. Those are for the beach or the YMCA. You are no good to yourself or your loved ones if you can’t run your ass off. Mobility equals survivability.

These are simple tactics. Action versus reaction. If you are aware, you are acting. If you are switched off and have no situational awareness, you are one step behind and will at some point in time fall into a predator’s web and be caught reacting.

As mentioned earlier, before you climb out of your vehicle, take a look around and look into the depths. It only takes a second to scan your “primary and secondary sectors.” Your primary sector is directly outside of your vehicle, and your secondary sector runs two or three cars deep in all directions. You will see things that you have never seen before.

Occasionally, you will find someone looking back at you. Most of the time, it is benign. Additionally, you will notice how oblivious many other people are to their surroundings. This newly acquired situational awareness will suddenly become a new normal for you.

Get in the habit of backing into a space instead of pulling into it. Not only does this allow for an easier departure, but it may also mitigate any would-be scammers looking for you to back into them. Make it routine to hook your keys onto a belt loop or clip them onto your purse so they are at the ready. Buy one of those key clips with a built-in light so you have an emergency light at your disposal at all times.

Avoid Diversions

There are times when you should question intuition. For instance, if it looks good, it may be a diversion. Diversionary tactics are as old as the day is long because they are effective. Explosions followed by fireballs and smoke will draw our attention like moth to a flame.

Here is a hypothetical situation: The elevator door opens, you take a step out and something grabs your attention to the right. You get sucked into staring at this while a predator closes in from the left. Crack to the head, lights out—your money and wallet are gone.

Next time you are drawn in unexpectedly, take a moment to look the other way. Even a snapshot in the other direction can be the determining factor in whether you become a victim or succeed in averting a bad situation. Don’t get sucked in by one of the oldest tactics in the book.

Situational Awareness: Do Your Part

It is our duty and responsibility to protect and serve. If you are a competent and trained gun handler, you should be carrying wherever the law permits and never go outside the parameters of that law. Don’t be a nugget. Just because your state allows “open carry” doesn’t mean you should. That is some amateur-hour bullshit.

Take the proper classes, get the proper training and be an asset to your community instead of a liability. Just because you have a gun does not mean that you are armed. The mind is the final weapon. All else is supplemental.

Everyday schmucks with their heads up their asses are myopic. They couldn’t spot a psycho with a shotgun if it were hanging a foot below his trench coat. So it is our job to protect and serve. Don’t be one of the zombies constantly in the “white” according to Jeff Cooper’s color code. If you find yourself there, say, “Pop.” That’s the sound it makes when you pull your head out of your ass.

This article is from the spring 2018 issue of Ballistic Magazine. To subscribe or purchase individual copies, please visit

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