Effective decision making skills – A programatic approach
When it comes to personal defense, the ability to make a decision to act is the critical element in everyone’s survivability. Your physical skills are completely irrelevant without the ability to decide to use them. Just like physical skills, you can train to make better, more efficient decisions. In order to improve this complex and somewhat automatic mental response we break it down into its core elements. At Aegis Academy we break the decision-making development process into five modules – awareness, predatory behavior, legal and moral factors, threat identification, and triggers. The time that a Master compared to a Novice chess player takes to make a move is a great example of trained vs. untrained decision making skills.
While recording eye movements, we see that novice chess players frequently look at or evaluate fewer than one hundred possible locations (or choices) prior to making a move. Conversely, a master chess player has developed an experience base that allows him to immediately discard irrelevant moves or move combinations, and focus only on those most likely to be effective. In the same time frame as the novice, a master player will look at and evaluate tens of thousands of locations on the board. The master’s decision-making skills are by any standard better than that of the novice, but he was not born that way! Our decision making modules are designed to help you develop effective habits to observe your environment from a practical perspective, evaluate your options, develop sound plans, and act on them.
You can develop better decision making skills over your lifetime!
Through the course of the day, most people passively observe their environment. They are easily distracted by irrelevant inputs, and find themselves uncomfortably surprised by an unexpected event. The Awareness Module provides clients with drills and tools that help to develop the habit of filtering out irrelevant sensory inputs and effectively focus on and observe the environment from a practical point of view. Through a series of programmed exercises, clients naturally improve at identifying and differentiating nonthreatening inputs from threatening ones in an efficient and effective manner. The goal is not that you expend more effort “paying attention”, it is that you build the habit of paying attention to what is relevant.
Decision Making Skills are not impacted by effort level, but by efficiency of effort!
An important aspect of understanding and safely navigating the environment is to understand the mindset and thought processes of a potential threat. Our Predatory Behavior module is designed to help you understand the environment from a criminal’s point of view. This module will provide insights into how criminals think and what factors they evaluate when choosing their victims. The goal is not to make you a criminal, but to provide safe and legal drills that allow you to understand criminal-like behavior. This provides an in-depth understanding of the menu of options from which they operate. You will see both your own activities and those of others in a completely different light.
Your decision making skills will improve if you understand the menu of options from which an attacker has to choose!
In an ideal world, we would possess the awareness to identify threats and change our patterns to prevent us from ever becoming the victim of a violent crime. However, the world can be a dangerous place. Should you find yourself in a situation that cannot be avoided and can only be terminated by your lawful use of deadly force, you need to factor these elements into the equation. The Legal and Moral Module is designed to provide an in-depth understanding of the legal statutes and moral imperatives regarding the use of lawful deadly force. Even though the laws are meant to be straightforward, discussion and evaluation lead to a clear understanding. Knowing and understanding the laws reduce the possibility that your effective decision making skills will result in a criminal act. Morality, on the other hand, is both driven and bounded by an individual’s upbringing, cumulative education, collective experiences, and social environment. This module will assist you in establishing a grounded and well-constructed moral basis for the potential use of force to prepare you to survive a violent encounter psychologically intact. A judge can interpret the laws, a jury can deliberate the merits of one’s actions when compared with those laws, but only an individual can confront the moral implications of one’s actions.
Many survive an illegal decision, while others take their own lives in response to acting in what they consider to be an immoral manner!
The previous modules will improve your ability to identify both the criminal’s menu of potential options and your own. The Threat Identification module provides practical experience in evaluating the risks associated with those options and improving your menu of options while limiting the options of a potential attacker. As a result, you will be able to modify your own behavior. The ultimate goal is to make you a less desirable target and reduce the chances that you become a victim of a crime. In order to do so you need to identify potential threats and act to minimize exposure or mitigate the effect of exposure.
If you are not noticed or cannot be reached by an attacker, you are not part of the attack cycle!
The Triggers Module trains you to produce conditioned responses to specific stimuli. Based on certain triggers, the best option may be to alter your path and leave the area, run, issue a verbal warning, use a defensive tool, or call for help. Our drills identify things in everyday life as a trigger and provide an action for you to do in response to those triggers as part of our drills. These every-day activities are sufficient to ingrain the habit of acting on an identified trigger, but won’t require you to draw your gun for practice.
Commitment and focus result in better actions once the decision is made – Learn to act on a trigger!
Effective decision making skills are the result of a well-constructed program designed to help you collect and process the relevant information at your disposal in sufficient time to defend yourself or a loved one. You can find more reading on decision making on the Aegis Academy Members Library under decision-making, which contains much of the source material from which we have constructed our program. This link includes all of John Boyd’s publications. For additional information you may want to consider reading Gary A. Kline, Recognition Primed Decision Making, or any of Jeff Cooper’s works, which are all relevant to the subject.
Regardless of attending a course at Aegis Academy, each of you can become a better decision maker if you work at it!
~ Patrick Henry