Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Sticks and Stones

You used to hear that a lot. Our parents would tell us, "Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words cannever hurt me." That's changed. Now you hear: "Words can cut through you like a knife. Words can hold such venom or poison that they can damage, destroy or kill more effectively than a physical weapon."

I can't help but think that this person has never been cut by a knife, or seen anyone destroyed by a physical weapon. Maybe there's a scale, or maybe more: people assume that the worst they've ever been hurt is at the very edge of what humans can feel. So if the worse pain you've ever felt is an unkind word, you think it must be worse that the third or fourth or fifth worse pain I've ever felt which was probably lying on my back after a good fall unable to breathe trying pathetically to scream or at least squeek for help. Or maybe running on a broken leg. Or frostbite (no, recovering from frostbite was the worst or second worst).

Maybe it's just me, but lying on a couch for a few days trying to wrap my mind around the fact that I might be blind in one eye was way worse than being embarassed or insulted or demeaned.

Part of me wants to go into the damage to the body versus damage to the ego talk. (I mean ego as sense of self, not the modern sense of hubris) Your self-image being restructured can be damaging, even crippling. It is a mostly imaginary thing but it is also our life's work.

What I really want to write about, though, is our complicity in damage, how we learn to be hurt. Neither of my kids are cry-babies. If you have young childen, you watched them fall a few times in very early childhood. It was a shock to them, a big new sensation. If you were paying attention, you saw them look at YOU trying to pick up on what the new sensation meant. If you ran over in a huge concern, "Oh poor baby! Are you okay?" the baby learned falling was bad and started to cry. If you looked over and in a neutral voice said, "You okay?" The baby probably just crawled on. (I usually said, "So, you feel stupid now?" which probably warped the kids badly.)

I taught my daughter early that if she had a minor injury, she only had to put pressure on it and breathe out and the pain would lesson. It still works for her.

Psychological... but physical, too. In martial arts one of the things that has always amazed me is the huge difference in ideas of pain and damage between different people. When you start in judo, you take a lot of falls. You go home and your hand is swollen and tender from slapping the mat and your body feels like one huge bruise. But if you stick with it, you eventually do the same number of falls (and harder, because they quit taking it easy on you) without the swelling or the pain. I've taken hard falls on hard surfaces (a 12 foot face plant off a cliff, a bicycle flip at over thirty mph, thrown on concrete with a 260 pound man on top) without a scratch- (okay, forearm bruises in the cliff fall, but I was out of practice). Judo taught me to deal with impact.

Football in highschool, too. (And a little rugby in college). You get hit hard and you learn to hit hard with your whole body and get up and do it again, all the while following a plan. It made the crashing of judo an easy transition.

If you watch a karate or kung fu class that doesn't regularly do hard contact, people freeze when they accidentally make face contact. The first real hit in the face can come as a completely mind numbing shock. Contrast that with someone who hisses, "Sweet!" when he gets hit in the face because he knows the rest of the brawl will be fun.

So a face punch can be freezing or fun and it seems to be a matter of experience and attitude. A decision? How much does this affect the damage incured? What are the variables in a strike? Is it simply a matter of power and placement? Why is it if you hit ten people in the exact same place with the exact same strike some will faint and some will curl up in a ball and some will get angry and one will look at you like you're an idiot?

How much power do we have in accepting or refusing damage? And how much more so when the damage isn't even physical?

Monday, February 26, 2007

The Rope

As a rappel master, I'm very careful. Before each day of climbing or caving, I feel each foot of rope, examine each piece of hardware and webbing. I check each knot and attachment point and so does every last person who is going to use it.

"But I don't know what I'm looking at," the rookie complains, "I trust you, you check."

But that violates the First Rule: NEVER DELEGATE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR OWN SAFETY. You think no rookie has ever noticed something that looked weird because the expert got complacent and screwed up? Look for your self.

We check the harnesses. If I'm strong enough I will lift each of the rookies by the attachment point.

Then I'll hook them up and practice a dry run, leaning away from the chasm (or bridge or cliff) and let them play out rope and tighten it up as they slowly lower themselves until they fall on their butts in the dirt. "Ready to try it for real?"

They back up to the cliff, knuckles white (almost always on the wrong part of the rope and I have to pry their non-breaking hand off the attached side of the rope.) "Step off," I say. Their eyes are locked on mine, showing white almost all the way around. Stepping backwards off a cliff is very hard for most people.

"I..I...I don't know," the rookie stammers.

"Do you trust me?"
"Do you trust the rope?"
"Then go."

The rookie takes a breath, steps backward... and is almost always laughing or hooting near the bottom, face split in a wide grin, eyes bright and skin flushed the way it only gets when you conquer a really primal fear.

I don't know how many times I've used that speech or variations of it to talk people through tyrollean traverses in caves, or to jump off a bridge. It's the same in other places.

Do you trust the teacher? Do you trust the skills?
Do you trust the leader? Do you trust the equipment?

There's part of jumping off a cliff that is all you. You have to do the jumping part. But sometimes it is things outside of you that make it safe. You have to check those things yourself- never delegate responsibility for your own safety- but in order to jump with a whole heart, you have to trust the rope.

It's a metaphor. Take it as far as you want. Don't trust stupidly, but trust is just as much an action as jumping.

After crossing (free climb!) the forty-foot pit in Dynamited cave and setting up the tyrollean, the conversation happened word for you: Do you trust me? Do you trust the rope? Then go...

Kyle caught up with me later, "I used that rope thing. It made a good sermon." God as a rope.

I've seen worse analogies.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Not A Real Cop

People can get used to anything. What's even more amazing is that people who have acclimatized to one extreme are often amazed by other people who have acclimatized to something slightly different.

When you go into a high-risk job at first it is very complex and very dangerous. As you learn the environment, the players and the dynamics you start to understand the clues. You know what's going on and it becomes far less dangerous. You develop some skill in handling the worst cases and it becomes even less dangerous. Sooner or later, if you have the aptitude and the will and work at it and your luck holds through the rookie stage, it's just a job.

Tony U said that he didn't consider himself a real cop, not like... he said a bunch of names. They included a patrol captain and two jail guards (one of whom was me).

It knocked me back on my heels. SWAT operative, undercover officer, leading a homicide task force... how much more of a real cop can you be? But it's his day job. It's what he does. It's his baseline of experience. He called himself a 'glorified investigator'. He's too good at it (not in the sense of spectacular and flashy but in the sense of getting it done with quiet competency) to see it as special.

He thinks what the rest of us do is special, but you know what? I'm just a glorified baby sitter. Sure, some of 'em are upwards of three hundred pounds and lots of them have mental issues and they're almost all criminals but it's just babysitting. Communicate clearly, set your boundaries, use reward and punishment and be professional. It's nothing. It's what I do. It's my baseline.

Think about it- there's something that you do with quiet ease that other people hold in awe. that's pretty cool.

Monday, February 19, 2007

First Feedback

Asher e-mailed me a critique and suggestion for the first MU class. It looks good, both managable in the available time and pertinent. It also leads better into the concept of complexity.

The class would center around the Big Three. The first part would be about awareness, first at the martial art level- by starting with one count and then blindfolded infighting, then expanding it through environment and then into social dynamics- "What haven't you learned to see?"

Then initiative- explosive movement but also disrupting the OODA loop. Go buttons and ruthlessness. Working out your moral issues with battle in advance.

Then permission. Touch my face. Put your thumb against my eye. Press. Who can do it, who can't? Your brain may know it's okay to maim a rapist, but does your body? Does your soul? Where are your glitches? How do you find them? Does any of this martial stuff really matter if you hesitate to use it?

It would be a good first class. Maybe more active and I could shift the toolbox class to third, in place of complexity (which many people will not be ready for).

Here's a thing on a side note: In one of the endless debates about training methods, an acquaintance advocated nothing but sparring. I pointed out all the ways real violence could happen that didn't resemble sparring in the slightest. He shrugged and said, "It's impossible to train for everything."

There is a deep immaturity to that thought. Can you train for everything? No. Yes. At the beginner stage or in some schools they practice by the numbers- he does this, you do that. Training at this stage is all about remembering thises and thats. But you get over it, if you or your instructor are any good. It's no longer scripted, no longer memorized and you can easily wing an answer to an attack you've never seen before.

"It's impossible to train for everything" stretches this attitude not just over techniques, but over training methods and strategies. It takes something that is only really designed for giving absolute white belts a handle on something new deciding that it describes the world.

When a new student starts with "What if?" questions, many instructors say, "Don't worry about that now. Practice what you are doing." "It's impossible to train for everything" takes this dodge and applies it as a strategy. Weird.


Got some travelling coming up. My agency is sending me to attend some classes- the Gracie cop grappling school in Torrance, CA March 19-23 and an AELE conference in San Fransisco April 23-25. Any locals want to meet in person?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Tool Boxes

Giving some serious thought to Martial University 2007 in Seattle. What I have in mind will be very, very conceptual. If it hits the right students at the right stage in their development, it will be fantastic information. If I can't pry their minds open, they won't learn anything. That's the point, really. I don't want to teach anything specific, I want to teach how to think, how to organize information, how to strategically envision your training.

Here's the format for the first class. If you plan on making MU, consider it a preview. If you think that there is no chance of pulling it off, let me know that, too. This is stuff that is important to me at my stage both as a practitioner and a teacher, it may not be what other practitioners need or want.

Toolboxes. Fighting at any level can be described, trained and envisioned in many different ways. Here are three different ways to look at infighting skills.

1) Technique. There are only a few general classes of technique: strikes, locks, gouges/pressure points, takedowns, strangles, wrestling/grappling/clinch, entries ...and biting (for KJ). That's it. In training, you work them all and pay particular attention to the areas you are weak on. Especially practice 'live'- sparring or randori- so that you recognize the technique as well as opportunities to apply the techniques. In a fight, you need to recognize when and how to apply one or more of these and do so, ruthlessly. (As well as stack, be able to apply multiple types simultaneously).

The technique toolbox is a good way to train and great for concrete thinkers. It's also the slowest and least effective in a real fight. There are too many specific options to think about.

2) Effects. You can look at the same situations through this lens. With this toolbox, instead of focusing on what actions you can accomplish, you look at the effects you can produce in the threat. In any given situation you can move a threat (unbalance, takedown, throw, wrestle, misdirect, etc.); you can cause pain; you can damage; or you can shut down the system- shock. In application you do which ever one of these (or combination- remember stacking) that is either easiest or best serves your purpose.

You have to be comfortable with a range of techniques to think at this level, but once you can it is much, much faster than thinking at the technique level. It also tends to broaden awareness because it assumes that the threat is your cat toy and you are the actor in the situation, not the victim or the respondant.

3) Critical skills. In some ways, this is an intermediary step between the last two, but it includes some pretty sophisticated concepts. The critical skills for infighting are: damage, unbalance, freeze and clear. Damage is the same as in the effects toolbox and you think of it pretty much the same way- internalize targeting and power generation and move decisively on any opportunity. Unbalance and freezing are two opposite ways to control the threat's body. It introduces "core fighting", using his anatomy to affect his ability to act 'by remote' such as pressure on his shoulder to prevent his foot from lifting. The fourth critical skill, clearing, is based on using or creating negative space in combat. What this means is that instead of fighting his strength, dealing with the threat's arms and legs, you fight against and move into the spaces where he is not- the space between his arms, off his flanks or under his chin, for instance.

In many ways I think this is an attempt to back-engineer what I am doing now. The technique level is important for learning and training and it was definitely my mindset for my first several fights. Effects is a place I go when I need to get stuff done. At the critical skill mindset the threat is just a toy, an incidental.

There's so much more here. Without the Big Three (Awareness, Initiative, Permission) none of this will mean a damn thing. Without integrating environment, you aren't ready for reality. And these are still focused almost entirely on playing with the body, not the mind.

And none of these are reactive- there's no blocking. I just noticed that. No where in my mind is there any though of preventing the threat from doing something to me, that is all an assumed effect of doing something to the threat. Even thinking about reacting cedes initiative.

Still... what do you think? A good first class for this audience?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Perfect Predator Moment

One last story from the training. This is the other side of my character flaw.

We're in position, one changing a tire, unarmed. One hidden in the trunk of his car, ready to pop the latch. He's very much armed. One guy on long cover, watching from inside a bulding. His firing will be the signal (but he's a rookie and has fired prematurely in every scenario so far). I'm waiting behind a door. This time we aren't going to hit the witness on the way in, but on the way out.

I watch from the shadows through a crack in a window. They drive in, wary of the guy changing his tire. They set up a perimeter, move the witness in and fallback to a tight inner perimeter on the 'clinic'. In a few minutes they come out. Someone sees the rookie and the officers respond professsionally, firing back, moving to cover, preparing to roll their vehicles out of the death zone, pulling the witness back to the hard cover of the clinic. The ambush is blown.

I step out. One officer is responsible for my sector- he's in the rear seat of the car with a rifle. He's looking right at me but I fire three shots to his face before he is consciously aware that I am there. The team leader is scrambling to get into the car, the passenger seat on my side. Three more shots ,two to the back of the head and one to the neck, then I fire two over his shoulder into his driver's head and turn towards the clinic. Someone is firing his weapon out the door at my long shooter across the street. I put two sim rounds on his hand and he falls back, cursing. I feel my slide lock back and change magazines without looking. I hear the officers inside. One takes command, "We need to get to the truck!" They file out, witness in a protective sandwich between them. Weapons at the ready, eyes darting. They walk out the door directly in front of me like I am invisible on their left flank. Three shots on each blamblamblam, blamblamblam, blamblamblam. Pastel colors explode all shots in tight groups at the edge of the arm holes in their body armor.

I'm untouched. It was only sims, only a game, but the cold precision of it is settled in my belly. Nineteen rounds, nineteen hits. There's a round in the chamber left and an empty mag in the weapon. I can feel it. The world is huge and fills my senses and at the same time it is exactly the size of the very tip of my front sight.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Inside My Skin

A bad moment in the break from training. Took a quick drive off base to buy the things I had forgotten to pack. For almost an hour, I was completely inside my skin. It wasn't good.

Does that sound good, like I was truly in touch with my inner self? But my inner self was tired and sore and dehydrated and still sick: it colored everything. Without a connection to the world, without empathy, everything became about me. Everything negative became personal. Compassion was gone. An elderly lady, having trouble telling the difference between a five and a twenty dollar bill is in line in front of me and it is slow, excruciatingly slow. I feel anger building, for no reason. My normal default, my ability to slip into other people's head is gone. I'm a yuppie for an hour, self absorbed and annoyed... and there's a dark under current of really vicious thoughts as well.

No one knows. When I get like this I'm very careful to pay attention to the social details- I smile and make sure it shows in the eyes, my body language is elaborately relaxed... the bad side effect is that it seems to encourage strangers to strike up conversations.

The gas station attendant tells me in exquisite detail about his old car. The guard at the base reminisces about his training experiences... they were nice people. Didn't matter. I couldn't see it.

The concept of "inner child therapy" always bothered me. Children are very selfish. They need to learn about their connection with the world and the value of other people. These aren't innate. Kindness isn't innate. Compassion and empathy and sympathy are skills and they are learned.

For about an hour, for what ever reason and only at a superficial level, I lost the connection. It wasn't a good thing.

Character Flaw

Good training, especially good scenario training, can uncover holes in your skill sets and a myriad of bad habits. Sometimes what you learn is so heavy that it can only be described as a character flaw- sometimes it's not what you know or what you did, it is who you are.

Second day of the training and we are practicing witness transport and protection. Drive, stay alert, arrive at drop, bail and set up a hasty perimeter, scan for safety or clear as necessary and touch base with the receiving unit, then remove the protectee from the vehicle and escort inside.

First scenario and we took fire. I hear the 'pop, pop, pop' of sim fire from across the street. I turn and engage, closing. I fire three shots from 25 yards to 20 and the threat turns and runs (odd, we are taught and practice even in a scenario to saty in the fight no matter what). Doesn't matter- another threat to my left and I sprint, tactical reload, sprint to the dead space behind the building that threat is using for cover. He's still firing at my team, tunnel visioned and I pop around the wall at his knee level and fire three rounds into his belly just below the vest, all angled upward. It urn and scan 360, looking for a third threat and my team is screaming, waving me over. While I've gone off on this little murdering hunt they've kept one vehicle in the kill zone waiting to extract me. I sprint, dive in the window and we tear off.

That's it, my character flaw. One of 'em, anyway. When attacked, I counter-attack. Normally, that's a good response. Not here. The mission, the team, my responsibilty as a team leader- all those things disappear and the thing that comes out is what it is- implacable and predatory- just not part of the team.

The goal, now, is to consciously take control. To remember the mission even when this deep button is pushed. To trust my men on the perimeter to do the killing if killing needs to be done. To force myself to look at the big picture. That's going to be hard.

BTW- the guy ran because I shot him right on the tip of the nose. Those suckers can hurt.

Since this is on the edge of true confession time- also at this training I did the most egregious friendly fire kill ever. We were ambushed again and everyone fell back in good order to the hardened (solid cover- a concrete building) drop. The instructor (sneaky bastard, JJ, but I'll never again back into an unknown or take a safe zone on faith) had put one more threat inside the safe house. We backed into a deadlier ambush. One of my team peeled, trying to find a way down a corridor to flank the room the threat was firing from. The rookie pit his weapon and light on the door. I buttonhooked through into the connecting room. The threat was silent, suckering us into crossing the threshhold into another kill zone. I signaled the rookie to kill his light and saw the shadow of the threat on the floor. I dove, sliding on my side and fired four shots into the threats groin and lower stomach at an upward angle (may be seeing a pattern here). It wasn't the threat. The threat had run to the basement. It was the officer who had run down the corridor to flank. Not only had I shot my own man, but I stalked him and assasinated him.

Lots of things would or could have changed this- threats and officers wearing the same armor, officer watching the door instead of the stairs... but those are incidentals. This is the purpose of training at this level- to find holes, to get better. This was great training.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Zen and Deja Vu

"Ready! Fire!"
The weapon comes up, sight picture, sight alignment, front sight front sight front sight, preeeessss the trigger BLAM trigger reset and preeeesssss BLAM. Scan left and right, eyes and weapon together for any possible threat and snapping back to low ready.
"Ready! Fire!" The cycle repeats. Hundreds of repetitions dry fire then hundreds of rounds then hundreds more from the draw....
"Fire!" Left hand snaps to chest as right drops to the holster, breaking retention snaps and then pulling the weapon to the high ready position at my right armpit, cantered slightly out so that if I have to fire from there the slide won't snag on equipment or clothing. The left hand slides around, securing a 360 degree grip and I thrust the weapone forward in front of my eyes -sight alignement sight picture front sight- and preesss BLAM! recover trigger reset and pressss BLAM! scan left and right, snap the weapon to retension and pause for a second and holster.

Then the same, moving foward and back, the universe in one way limited to a two-inch square on a humanoid target, in another way encompassing all that surrounds the range as each scan is a reminder that one shot, one battle, one life happens in the context of the world- to focus entirely on one threat is to miss the enemy on the flank, to focus on one obsession is to miss all of life.

"Ready! Fire!"

Grip. Stance. Aggressive forward lean. Ams locked. Sight alignment. Sight picture. Breathing. Trigger press. It is complex, many things to think about, too much for the conscious mind to handle without letting one facet slip. I decide to throw my mind away. You've done this through enough reps, I tell myself, you no longer need to watch it. I give my body permission to make the shots before I consciously okay it... my groups tighten up. The speed of point shooting with the accuracy of aimed fire.

Caveat and note bene: The ability to let your body do what you have trained without conscious interference is a primary goal of martial arts, self defense, CQB, the whole shebang. It is very easy to delude yourself that you have achieved some kind of mastery when you let yourself loose like that. Letting yourself loose isn't mastery (though a lot of worthless instructors have convinced themselves and their students otherwise). Here's the deal- if it is the real thing, you will get better when you let yourself loose. You need to consciously and critically evaluate the effect. If you aren't better, go back to reps. You aren't ready yet.

It was good, and for a few hours in the pouring rain it was a deep meditation, touching the core, letting things happen, mind open but focused, awareness locked on a two inch square while simultaneously open to the sphere.

Later that night, the LT had to leave. Complications with his wife's pregnancy. I offered to drive him, hinted that it would be a very long drive with some very dark thoughts...

Fifteen years or more ago at this very same military base, while I was in the National Guard, I arrived for an NBC (Nuclear-Biological-Chemical) Defense Instructor course and got a message that my wife, shortly after after the birth of our first born was hemorrhaging badly. I was instructed to leave immediately. It was a two hour drive alone in the dark wondering what my life would be like without Kami. Even then, when the darkness was much farther away, she was still safe harbor, still a bastion of sense and beauty in the world. What would I do facing life without her and with a son only days old... dark thoughts, scary thoughts for a long, lonely drive.

I knew the lieutenant would be facing similar thoughts and he shouldn't have to face them alone. He chose to, and he used the time to compose himself to better comfort his wife.

The first part of the first day of training....

Monday, February 05, 2007

"It's Alive..."

The present is a product of the past. Sometimes it seems that we don't appreciate our own role in creating the life we live or how we have treated people in the past affects how other people expect to be treated... everything we do leaves so many tracks and repercussions. So many of those are predictable.

A very wise man sat across the table from me. He asked not to be named, so I won't. the subject was a stupid thing that some one may or may not have done that may or may not utterly destroy his or her career and reputation. During one of the breaks this wise man and I were talking about other things. I mentioned how stupid it was for a government organization to impose a five year hiring freeze and six years down the road go into a media frenzy about excessive overtime. The wise officer looked at me and said, "They never learn. You gotta live with the monsters you create."

Yeah. You gotta live with the monsters you create.

Training may be cut this year, because they delayed last year's training to this fiscal year to save (or, rather, postpone spending) money.

Years ago there was a bad officer who finally did something so egregious that he had to be fired and prosecuted... but that was preceeded by years of smaller things, never directly addressed by his supervisors.

Politics, violence and money. Even life and love. We create our own monsters and then we have to live with them.

Light and Dark

Over the weekend a lot of time was spent revisiting darkness with an old friend. It was a time for old wounds and talking about gulfs with someone who would listen and not judge, who would understand what they could understand and not pretend to understand the rest. It's frustrating that so many good people can not see their own beauty and grace.

She said that she wanted to be a creature of the light... and she already is. Look at the lives she touches, the way people that know her feel, all around her is the light that she spreads. Like many things, it's hard to see what you are, it's slightly easier to see what you do. And it's very hard to see and understand effects around you that come from your being more than your actions, but they are real.

Light and dark, and anti-light and anti-dark.

There are good people and bad people. There are some truly evil bastards in the world, people who destroy for the feeling of power, people who kill the spirits of children. And there are just scum, people who make you ashamed of humanity just to be around them. They increase the darkness in the world.

And there are people who aren't truly dark themselves, more of an "anti-light". Passive aggressive jerks who never actively do anything bad but try to increase the friction for those who try to do what is right. Office gossip sabotage. Brainless protests. This is far more common than true evil and its effects can be just as large- the difference between damaging a child and merely not loving one can be negligible.

I'm not a creature of the light- I realized that this weekend. I've been in the presence of the light (the big 'L' LIGHT, the feeling of pure joy as you combine with the universe into a single thing) and in a way I worship it- nobility and kindness and love and caring and beauty... and something far beyond those words. But it's not my role. There's an "anti-dark", too, who deals with the true dark in dark territory and there is very little kind and loving and beautiful about that (though there have been loving moments of violence and even nobility here and there). Someone has to do this to leave the people of light free to be what they are.

Damn, this sounds self-righteous. I'll get over it.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Digging and Pushing

I wish there was a rule that would make this easier. A very wise man, Jake Rens, once told an inmate (who was talking a very small issue into a very big one), "Son, when a smart man figures out he's in a hole, he stops digging." Good advice. It's something we hammer in DTs and Officer Survival and Use of Force: If what you are doing isn't working, do something else.

This goes for life and relationships and careers and everything- if what you are doing is not working, DO SOMETHING ELSE.

But.... but... but.... Don't give up. Never, ever, ever give up.

Both these things are true. Both these things are contradictory.

When you are making things worse, you need to stop. But sometimes things get worse just before it's over- sometimes a threat who is exhausted and ready to give up gives it one more burst of speed and power before meekly letting himself be cuffed.

And yet the person who reliably gets hurt is the rookie who got really good at ONE wrist lock at the Academy and tunnel visions on the one technique when he is getting himself slammed. He needs to do something else...

"That's my story and I'm stickin' to it..." people have successfully brazened out things by sticking to a story (no matter how improbable) and other people, who could have have saved friendships and careers by simply admitting... burned all their bridges.

Maybe that's a piece of it. Always stick with the truth... except what is the 'truth' is often opinion. New facts are allowed to influence opinion, but 'truth' is above influence. Many people call things truth far too early.

So, when do you push on in the face of adversity and loss and when do you change your tactics? When is change really just quitting?

I really wish there was an easy rule of thumb.