Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Flex-ecute & Change

Now there’s a word for you. Flex-ecute. It’s a combination of FLEXIBLE and EXECUTE, as in we need to be flexible while executing the mission. The bottom-line is when we progress towards our personal or professional goals change happens. Change is inevitable—the one absolute.

Since human beings are creatures of habit we instinctively deplore change, some more than others. In my motivational speaking days, I used to talk a lot about getting out of our comfort zones. It’s amazing how many speakers actually get paid to talk to audiences about change and comfort zones.

To be honest, I’m a high-energy guy. In fact, I remember one person years ago after hearing me speak describe me as ‘dynamic’. The truth is I enjoy change. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why I enjoy public speaking while many people fear and hate it. I enjoy the uncertainty of SWAT operations—at least I did when I was doing that work. The fear of the unknown combined with a bunch of other feelings gives a bunch of adrenaline. The hormones and chemical changes created by skydiving, for instance, feels good. At least it felt great to me. Intimacy and kissing feels good too, especially if you haven’t done it for a long time (boo-ho). Scary movies can also produce a chemical excitement followed later by a peaceful tranquility.

Exploring new things and new places, or riding a zip line beneath the jungle canopies like what my wife and I did when we went into Belize on our cruise, also gives a little rush. My wife really liked the zip line. (She likes roller coasters and rappelling too.) A few people were in tears because they were so scared to ride the zip line. It takes a lot to excite me, though. It was fun, but again, it takes a lot to give me chemical euphoria (and I don’t mean through synthetic or illegal highs, which I oppose). Perhaps it’s genetically wired within me to be calm by nature. I’m sure it is. I’ve often heard it said that some people we born to be warriors—cops or military-types. I can be calm when most around me are seriously troubled by traumatic events. Most of my colleagues can too.

I’ve also read criminology and psychology reports that show the antithesis. Some say criminals were had an unnaturally high disposition to break the law because they were born that way through inherited genetics. Of course, one cannot leave out their social-economic and family upbringing either.

Last year Japanese scientists at Tokyo University genetically altered a mouse to not fear cats. That’s amazing, isn’t it? The result showed that fear is genetically hardwired and not necessarily learned through experience, according to the study. I have some thoughts to that though.

Very young children are oblivious to traffic, for instance. They don’t fear it. They haven’t learned (or felt) what serious pain is yet, nor hopefully have they seen fatal car wrecks or death. The mentally handicapped are also oblivious. Their genetic responses were, frankly, retarded in the true sense of the word. Therefore they may perceive fear differently than you or I.

When I used to teach tactics and firearms full time, I’d often talk about the physiological and psychological changes that fear induces. I have often had to correct learned behavior—behaviors and concepts consciously or subconsciously learned through media entertainment. It is a fact that we learn from television and movies even though we ‘know’ it is make-believe. In fact, yesterday Dave Grossman sent me a personal note. (Thanks Dave!) He is a well-known expert on that topic. (See his website www.killology.com.)

Case in point: nearly every time someone shot with a Simunition FX marking cartridge or paintball for the first time during role playing tactical scenarios, even if they had worked as police officers for several years, they’d fall backwards quickly, moan and give a performance worthy of an Emmy nomination. In sum, I’d have to literally explain away and debunk the myths learned by Hollywood. There’s no such thing as two people pointing their guns at each other talking the other down—at least that’s not the tactically prudent approach if you want to live! There’s no such thing as a bullet that makes the person being shot get violently thrown back 20-30 feet. Those are done by pulleys, cables and exploding squibs. (When I lived in California I used to want to be a stuntman; I’d know. On that note, I once dove off a tall building head first, flailing my arms and legs frantically. It was great. But I’m getting too old for that now.)

Anyway, the biggest thing I’d have to explain to police officers, military and security professionals is that the will to live can dominate one or two or three or four or more bullet holes. I’ve seen it! People can survive being shot. On the flip side of that, that’s why I also taught them to keep shooting until the threat stops. I believe in shooting and shooting some more. It’s a dangerous precedent not to. I’m a graduate of an Army special ops sniper school, but I’ve rarely seen ‘one shot, one kill.’

Now, how do I link that into change—the topic I began with? That’s really a rhetorical question because I’ve decided to CHANGE my ending.

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