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Be an Asset: Train for the Military Mindset

Paratroopers from 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment

There are many things besides fitness that you should consider working on while you prepare to join the military.  In light of recent events in Paris, the following needs to be discussed to assist in creating the mindset required to become a member of the military, or just to help prevent yourself from being a victim.  Young, future members of our military were only 2-3 years old when the September 11 attacks occurred.  The understanding that this world is dangerous and there are groups of people who prey on the innocent may just now be seeping into their inexperienced worldview.  This list is also a reminder to veterans and non-serving civilians alike with regard to being more security minded:

Simply Pay Attention

External awareness can go a long way to saving your life and keeping you safe.  Distracted driving and distracted walking are actual causes of death and accidents, and now make up to 25% of vehicular and pedestrian accidents. Do yourself a favor – look up from your phone and notice the people around you and your surroundings. Pay attention to entrances, exits, places to take cover or hide, and out of place objects and people.  When you are in public and not paying attention, you are highly vulnerable to a variety of crimes and dangers.  Staying alert can save your life. 

Attention to Detail

Take your awareness to the next level.  This can be practiced throughout the day.  At home, in restaurants, grocery stores, and on the road are all great places to see what is going on with your surroundings and the people around in them.  Notice what people are wearing and carrying.  Are there any bags left unattended? How many men are around you?  Are there any over-dressed people for the weather, potentially hiding something under a layer of clothing?  Where are the nearest police officers?  Formulate a plan in your head: "if something happens, what would I do?"  This is very similar to being an athlete in a sport like baseball. For instance, your situational awareness will assist you with how you react to getting the ball. What we do every day can help prepare us to develop this skill and use them to identify potential threats.

Take the Initiative

If you are preparing for military service, you need to start early with this nugget of advice.  Learn how to answer questions yourself by finding the answer after a reasonable amount of research.  Google is a powerful tool for this.  Taking the initiative also means DOING!  Get up and do something that is needed without being asked.  It can be the basics around the house like cleaning your room or picking up after the dog without your parents asking you to do it.  In our house, if I have to remind my son that it is Sunday and the garbage needs to be on the street for Monday morning pickup, he has failed to take the initiative to do this himself.  And his lack of initiative is noted.  Recommended book:  The Message to Garcia for personification of taking the initiative.

After practicing 'taking the initiative,' you will be able to apply it to the training you already have whether that is the ability to take down a bad guy with a football tackle or a wrestling move.  Saving someone from drowning requires you to take the initiative with an above average ability to swim in most cases.  With some advanced medical and security training and your initiative, you have now become an asset to helping people in potentially dangerous and life threatening moments.  Starting this mindset while you are young with simple tasks will enable you to grow into the type of adult that is the asset

Be the Asset.

The Asset Mindset

I know most people with military, law enforcement, and medical training do the above instinctively as it becomes a habit over time.  It is not because they are paranoid.  It is because they are trained.  They are trained to not be sheep in a herd.  They are the watchdogs, the sheepdogs, who are on constant alert for the wolves, even though they do not know the sheep.

As you prepare your body for military or special ops service, focus on the mindset of the warrior as well.  Ask yourself, why do you want to serve?  If the answer is to fight the evil in the world that kills innocence with random attacks in restaurants, soccer games, restaurants, concerts, and other symbols of Western Democracy, then you have the right mindset.  Practice the skills above that the military and law enforcement use in potentially high-threat environments every day.  Just understand that the threat is real and can be everywhere, so pay attention!

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Contributor

Stew Smith works as a presenter and editorial board member with the Tactical Strength and Conditioning program of the National Strength and Conditioning Association and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). He has also written hundreds of articles on Military.com's Fitness Center that focus on a variety of fitness, nutritional, and tactical issues military members face throughout their career.

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