Thursday, June 04, 2015

Mindsets 2015

The blog is where I do my thinking out loud. And, to help clarify a debate I'm having with a friend, I need to define some terms in my own mind. Just assume an IMO or IME after almost every sentence.

There are a bunch of different mindsets. Written about it a little before. And people at different levels of experience don't gather or process information the same. There are trained mindsets, which are ways you learn to think; and there are core mindsets which are deeper parts of your nature. Maybe.

Any of these might be accessed in a force situation, and all of them will work differently for different people and in different circumstances.

Some of the Core MindSets:
Fighter. Unfortunately, this is the mindset almost all men have as the ideal. It is about "winning" but it is also about letting others, especially the opponent, know that you have won and he has lost. It is a show of strength, conditioning, courage and skill. Operative word is "show." Over millennia, the traits essential to the fighter's mindset are the traits that would impress a female chimpanzee looking for a mate. That sounds dismissive. Sorry. There are a lot of good things that come with this mindset-- toughness, endurance, courage, pain tolerance, the ability to think on your feet, others. Those are good traits and there is no downside in training to develop them. But for the two primary goals (my primary, anyway) disabling quickly and safely or escaping, this mindset lends itself to very bad strategy and judgment calls. In my ideal world, for instance, the bad guy should be down and in cuffs without ever knowing quite how it happened.

Survivor. Just as the Fighter is obsessed with "winning", the Survivor is obsessed with "not losing". In non-violent life these are the people who are so afraid to make a mistake, they generally do nothing. In martial arts, instructors create this personality type (so maybe it should go under "Trained") by constantly correcting. When your students are more afraid of doing something wrong than eager to do something right, they fall into this category. I don't like it, but I see reasons why other people might think it's important. In force professions and situations, I didn't know a lot of these. Rephrase-- I knew them, but they always gravitated to desk jobs and safe posts, so I never considered them to be part of the profession.

Hunter. The Hunter gets the job done with maximum efficiency and minimum personal risk. Snipers are the iconic hunters, but all good pros work from this mindset. The team didn't take risks. Putting the bad guy down was never a contest. If it turned into anything approaching a fight, my tactics sucked or my ego got involved. Hunting mindset is alien to most people in our culture today because they've never hunted or slaughtered. But once they get reintroduced, the world shifts.
Hunting mindset is easy when you have distance and time on your side. Officers responding to a call. Slaughtering day at the farm. Actually hunting, like a deer. It is harder but still accessible in close quarters and even from surprise-- in the fighting mindset you tend to forget things like throat spears, rabbit punches and ear slaps. In the hunting mindset, those are the first things you see.
In the fighting mindset, it is in some way noble to engage with equal weapons or no weapons at all. To the hunter's mindset, this is choosing to be unprepared. Not noble, just stupid.

Predator. Exactly the same as hunter. Just different words for a different model.

"Warrior." I've already written what I think of people who need the label here. In it's current usage, the "Warrior Mindset" seems to be little more than an attempt to grab some reflected glory. I'm not a warrior. I was a soldier long ago, but I was never activated. I know who I am and what I've done and have no need to steal a label that was earned by others.
The proper warrior mindset, the real thing, has layers and levels. At one level, you must have the humility to follow orders. If you have to deliberate about whether the order you follow is worthy, or think that you're so much smarter than the source of your orders that you should have choices... there's no time for that. Arrogant people die and get others killed. At other levels, there is a definite hunter's mindset. And sometimes, you just endure.
The myth that people want-- that you train  in a certain way or follow a certain tradition or wear certain clothes and you enter a brotherhood of secret knowledge is just...childish.

Mama Bear. Mac showed me this one, once. He was sparring with K and she was definitely in the survivor mindset, not trying to take Mac out, just trying not to get beaten too badly. Mac suddenly threatened her daughter. K went apeshit. Mac's good and he was nearly twice K's size, and for the next thirty seconds he was completely on the defensive until I called it.
It's not a gender thing, necessarily. Everyone should have something so precious to themselves that they will cast away all caution, go completely offensive, give no thought to self protection at all... And that can be a huge advantage. Ferocity is one of the factors, and protection of others is inborn in all of us. But it is buried deep. And I don't think this is just buried by social conditioning. It's a high risk strategy. Going apeshit on the tiger will buy the kids time to get up the tree, but it's still a tiger.

Scholar. Not sure if this is a trained one or inborn. And I think you can be in scholar mode simultaneously with some of the others. There are parts I couldn't access before a significant accumulation of experience. The scholar goes into a force situation to learn. Early stages, most of the scholars' work is in debriefing, writing the reports. Not everyone does it, analyzing each event to figure out what worked, what failed, and why. But the scholar core improves you over time. After experience, at higher levels, I would deliberately experiment in a force situation. That's rare, most professionals stick with what works because it is risky to do otherwise. The two experiments I remember was a breathing exercise for in the middle of the altercation suggested by George, and Mac's suggestion, "Next time you have a fight in Reception, thank the guy afterwards. See what happens."

Hopeless. Not sure what to call this one. There comes a time when you know you aren't getting out alive anyway, you have nothing to lose, there is no way to survive and your brain shifts. You don't think about winning, you don't think about not losing, because death is a foregone conclusion. And something clicks and you decide to leave a mark. To leave so much forensic evidence, there is no way the threat will escape. To make this the worse day of his life. To cause as much pain and damage and horror as you can in the limited time you have left. This is hitting rock bottom and embracing rock bottom.
And it is one of the most powerful survivor mindsets there is. Very few people want to pay the price to stay engaged with a victim who has touched this level, the full-blown lizard brain.

Trained MindSets:
Technician. This is a meat problem I have the skills to solve. Very impersonal. I used this more sparring than in real force incidents.
Workman. "This is my job." This is an odd one, because sometimes it gives people permission to access something like the Technician or the Hunter. I've also been bouncing around some thoughts with MR: Having an identity as a bouncer or LEO or CO allows some people to engage with far less monkey brain. Especially if you have a tendency towards the fighter's mindset (and almost all young men do and most of these professions are recruited from the pool of young men) the workman mindset, when achieved, allows you to take the ego out of it. To be efficient, to not take things personally.

There are probably tons more. These are the things that come to my head right now.

They all work, for various people and to varying degrees. There are some I prefer. Anyone can access almost any of them. The physical act of breaking another person is not hard. The mindsets are the ways one becomes willing.


5d said...

I appreciate your thoughts and thank you for sharing yourself. I see everything here as shifting states that I have embodied at different times. As the river flows, so it goes.

shugyosha said...

Let's see if I can post it coherently.

As I see it, there are two kinds of survivors, possibly linked to process/goal and to monkey/lizard. There's the guy who wants to survive socially, to not be seen as a threat to the social order. There's the guy who wants to survive and get home and will use your entrails for a climbing rope if he needs to.

To me, that kind of survivor, Mama Bear and the Hopeless [*] are different sides of the same idea, under different stress levels.

While I sort of agree with your warrior definition, I think you're mixing, also, the modern soldier. A warrior can be an individual, a modern soldier can't. I can't recall who had a taxonomy on that.

Then, the modern soldier is also a workman. Maybe all competent violence professions?

The scholar mindset is... tempting. Sometimes too much. It's too easy to get into the technician/scholar mindset and forget that you have to be able to access that under stress, that you can't afford to step back and retry. To me, it's more of a danger than the duelist (very seldom go into duelist mode; can get into scholar easily, and could probably freeze me there).

Take care. Send my 2¢ to the BBQ.

[*] There's a hope, though: that your actions will leave a mark.

Erik Kondo said...

My thought is that the Survivior is more a Protector in that he or she has a protective mindset. This is a mindset characterized by the fear of losing something, but not yet fully fearful.

And I see Hopeless as more Accepted/Transformed. In the example given, the person has accepted his or her fate and has transformed from a self-protective oriented goal to a goal involving the fate of the assailant.

Jim said...

Just a thought... as you define Hunter, I'd make a distinction from Predator. I'm trying to puzzle it in my head as I write, so I'll probably wander and be a little fuzzy. The line is in attitude or focus... I'm seeing Hunter as objective-oriented, but not objective-focused, if that makes sense? A Predator's focus might be summed up as "How do I get X with minimal risk to me and best chance of getting X?" They don't care who they're targeting; they're going to target the most vulnerable. Hunter has a more specific target. You go out after deer, you're not going to shoot a turkey. That's Hunter. But Predator -- he's out after dinner, whether that's deer, turkey, etc. Gang unit goes out after gang members, they're not worrying so much about the prostitute on the corner. Change the mission from "identify gang members" to "suppress criminal activity", and suddenly, that prostitute on the corner is something to deal with. And so on...

pax said...

I glitched on the word "hunter." The mindset description feels spot-on, but the word used to describe it seems off -- probably because it strongly implies being the initial aggressor.

Not sure what to suggest replacing it with, though.

Anonymous said...

In addition to professions like LEO or bouncer, another subset that might fit under "Workman" is "parent". I'm thinking especially of parents dealing with raging non-NT children (generally a taboo subject, unfortunately). Keeping monkey brain out of that is essential for the parent--and extra challenging because of all the emotions involved in the relationship, in contrast to dealing with a stranger who doesn't have those personal connections. Another challenge lies in that the priority goal is keeping both the child and other people safe, which can mean enduring more damage to yourself (due to choosing physically less forceful response, in order to keep the child safe) than you'd normally ever choose to tolerate from an adult attacker.

Enough time in that mode, and it even becomes difficult to switch mindsets in class to the goal of defeating an attacker in order to escape. I suppose the silver lining is becoming very good at staying out of monkey brain under high stress.

Unknown said...

As a kid I got bullied a lot.

Then one day, grade 11, I flipped into a version of "hopeless". I didn't care about being hurt (dying wasn't on the agenda, but a beating was), and I knew I was going to lose the fight.

But goddamn it, I was going to hurt him.

And I did.

I only had to fight one more time at that school. After that, the predators left me alone.