Trail Safe Encounters on the Trail
We want our subconscious to be programmed to respond in any way it can while remaining within our basic strategic framework. Our strategic framework resembles the paths through the water sought out in whitewater kayaking. When a kayaker scouts an unfamiliar river, he or she looks for a line through the rapids, a best-case route through the waves and the water. In essence, the kayaker thinks, "If I do everything right, and the river cooperates, this represents the best route to take down the river." Of course, not just one line exists through a set of rapids. A best line might emerge, but lots of other lines through the rapids will present themselves, and if we screw up, or if the river throws us a little curve we're not expecting, we're going to discover those other lines. On the river, as in life, we need to react, respond, and keep our heads above water.
I once did a television segment on river surfing, which is basically whitewater kayaking without the kayak. The river had dropped a foot from the time I had scouted it in the late afternoon to the next morning's film session, so I knew I was in for a bouncy ridesort of like sitting in a washing machine filled with rocks. During my first run for the cameras, I hit my line perfectly. On my second run, I bounced one time too many and missed my entry into a small waterfall. Suffice to say that I discovered many other lines through the rapids!
However, my preplanning included a safety kayaker downstream whose whole purpose in life was to bail me out if I signaledstrategic thinking! Our strategy for self-defense acts as our line through the rapids of life. We follow it as best we can, and we build in the mental flexibility to survive when we miss that narrow entry into a waterfall. I once read an article that described our thinking processes in terms of index cards. We create an index card for each anticipated situation, so that when that situation happensWhoops! Missed entry to waterfall!our brain searches for the appropriate index card, on which is printed the correct, or best, response.
Unfortunately, this approach is a little too mechanistic and limited for our strategic lives. We simply cannot have enough index cards to address any and every situation we might come upon. Instead, we need to access our strategic model and our most powerful self-defense tool, our brain. So that our brains will be most effective, we must prepare ourselves as much as possible for the unexpected. This means it is critical for us to keep surprise to a minimum.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication