NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I improve my intuition?
The most important thing when listening to your intuition is to stop whenever you recognize it is speaking to you. I mean that literally. Stop whatever you are doing and just be open to the input or impressions you’re receiving. By doing this you are allowing your inner safety voice to more effectively convey critical information about your environment and potential threats.
Two other important factors when considering your intuition; first, don’t be afraid to change or otherwise disrupt plans or activities when your personal safety is in question. Not wanting to adjust your activities because of a time schedule or fear of inconveniencing others is not an appropriate course of action. If something happened in hindsight, you’d realize those two considerations are never more important than your personal safety. The wisdom is in recognizing that beforehand.
The second intuition factor is failing to take action just because it might seem foolish. External social pressures or expectations should never be more important than a nagging impression. You’ll feel more foolish in the aftermath of an incident by not listening to your wise inner voice known as intuition.
What does Situational Awareness really mean?
Situational awareness is knowing where I am and what’s around me, what’s going on in my surroundings and my place in them. Although it seems to be a simple concept, I encourage you to stop right now and really think about it. Think about the definition above and your place in time right now, with this article in hand or as you read it on your laptop at home or in the office. Where are you? What is around you? What’s happening in those same surroundings and what is your place in them? In other words, how do the events and people around you relate to you and you to them? All of these things combined form your Situational Awareness. And SA, as it’s widely termed in the military, allows you to identify criminals before they become a threat. That is the personal safety key to being aware of threats like never before.
It’s important to understand that situational awareness is an externally shaped sense, effected by what you look for, how you identify it, and the manner in which those things or people effect you.
How do I know if I’m situationally aware?
I like to tell people that if your phone is not in your hand (or laptop open, or earbuds in) you’re off to a good start. You can’t be aware if your attention is on something that is not part of your external environment. Be heads up, by which I mean just look around, take in your surroundings without preconception. You’re not looking for something, you’re just looking to be observant. That’s the heart of situational awareness, just being aware of your surroundings. With that as a starting point you can then ask yourself pertinent questions: What is happening in my immediate surroundings? How are the things around me likely to affect me? What’s my place in this environment?
The essence of the answer to the question “Am I situationally aware?” are the answers to the questions you asked above. It is also where you become your own expert because only you can ever determine what your situational awareness should be since you don’t have annother expert handy. It is also why it is so important to practice the skill of having good SA (as we call it in the military). It’s an iterative process and the more you practice it, talk about it with others, and think about it the better you’ll get. Ultimately the question ‘am I situationally aware’ can only be answered by you and the absence of being surprised by something you didn’t see coming. Because, well, you saw it coming.
What do I do if I suspect someone’s waiting to ambush/attack me?
The number one course of action if at all possible is to get assistance and stay put if you’re not in immediate danger. Have others come to you, this could include the police or other authorities. Another option is to use the people around you or nearby for assistance, a store manager for instance, to reach your destination if you need to leave. Sometimes waiting them out works if you have the patience or option, though many people can find this unnerving. And there is a difference between someone targeting you because you’re a foreigner while your traveling abroad or simply a target of convenience and someone who is stalking you (see next question).
If you know that an individual or a group is lying in wait for you don’t move into their chosen place for an ambush. While this scenario is infinitely variable depending on who and where you are, the key is to do nothing on their terms and if they aren’t coming to you, you should use that to your advantage.
What do I do if I think I’m being tailed or stalked by someone?
Note: This question covers the type of stalking where a person or group is physically following you, not the online or psychotic pathologic person who is obsessed. As with ambushes, the goal here is to get assistance as quickly as possible and avoid environments where you might be attacked. If you’re on the move already look for crowds, such as in public spaces like restaurants or hotels. As soon as possible dial the police and ask that they meet you. An alternative is to find a responsible person (such as café or hotel manager) and ask for assistance. Anyplace you can shelter safely until you either get someone to come to you or you can take time to make a better plan to escape or evade the threat is more valuable than trying to outrun the problem
What kind of self-defense weapons work best?
The answer to this question is “It depends.” If you’re familiar with my approach to personal safety you’ll know I do not recommend the carrying of firearms by civilians not extensively and regularly trained in their use. I do believe when used for home defense in conjunction with professional safety and training instruction and, just as critically, frequent practice under the very conditions you’d employ them during a home invasion that they can be a great asset. As an alternative, in the home I recommend baseball bats placed strategically where you sleep and spend most of your waking free time (visit my website’s Personal Safety Tab for details on this specific topic).
For weapons on your person, I recommend a tactical pen as a last line of defense because they can be carried anywhere. For standoff distance (defined as beyond arms reach or more than a step or two) I recommend pepper spray. Be sure to check with local police for legal restrictions on these and if you’re planning to travel with it, the authorities at your destination.
Where can I find free resources to make my home or apartment safe?
My website has checklists you can access from any laptop or cell phone to determine vulnerabilities in your residence and how to fortify them. Your local police department can usually provide informal security advice and may be able to visit your home to informally assess your security posture. Many also have checklists or forms you can use to assess where you live.
Should I obtain a concealed carry permit?
If you plan to open carry or regularly transport weapons (loaded or not) in your vehicle, having a permit is wise (and in many locations a necessity) if you are stopped by police or otherwise have to interact with law enforcement authorities. But I don’t recommend concealed firearms for civilians because their training and even certification are inadequate to handle the snap decision, and absolute dire consequences of, employing a firearm. That includes potential collateral damage.
Where can I receive instruction on the principles contained in The Power of Awareness?
The Power of Awareness Institute is the company I’ve created that will be providing safety instruction for the 6 Rules, as well as related topics such as active shooter situations. If you or your organization are interested in receiving formal instruction from myself or the world class experts on my team please contact me directly via firstname.lastname@example.org.