Have you ever walked into a room, had that uncomfortable feeling and then walked out, only to find out later that something terrible happened?
You tell your friends, or spouse, “Oh my God I was there minutes before and something told me to leave.”
Some people call that your “gut feeling” or your intuition. It is part of a bigger thing called Situational Awareness.
Situational Awareness is being aware of your surroundings, and it can save your life. Sounds simple, right? Let me ask you this. When was the last time you looked up when you walked into the store, into a hotel lobby, into a conference room, into a…? You get the picture.
I’m sharing with you the one thing that was drilled into my head as a United States Secret Service Agent.
Situational Awareness is a science and it’s a choice. You have the choice, and I say this out of concern and love, to keep your nose in your phone or to look up and recognize who is around you and what is around you.
So, let’s look at the science of Situational Awareness. I already gave you the simple definition. Situational Awareness is being aware of your surroundings. It’s also, the ability to scan the environment and sense danger, challenges and opportunities, while maintaining the ability to conduct normal activities.
It is also paying attention to your surroundings while not appearing to be paying attention. To give you a personal example, when I walk into any place I look up. You won’t see me do this because I’ve done it a thousand times. I made the choice to build Situational Awareness into my every day. And now that I have a son, it’s even more important.
The first step in breaking down the science of Situational Awareness is identifying the "Baseline." Everything has a baseline. It is the homeostatic state of what things look like, sound like and feel like when nothing much is going on.
For example, let’s take a trip to the woods. In the woods, the normal state in the late afternoon is normally pretty quiet. The baseline is pretty flat. As we move into evening, the baseline changes a bit. Night feeding animals are coming out, day feeders are going in. There’s an increase in noise and activity, but everything is still the norm.
Suddenly a predator appears. All the prey animals react. Alarm calls go out and the noise level suddenly spikes. The "Baseline" is now different.
So now, take your own neighborhood. Each neighborhood has its own baseline. The way people move, talk at a certain volume, stand at a certain socially acceptable distance from one another, gesture. Depending on cultural or ethnic norms, it will be different in various neighborhoods.
Being able to develop awareness is dependent upon first knowing the baseline for the area you are in and recognizing any variations to the baseline.
Changes in baseline are learned from observation. One must know the baseline. One must recognize disturbances to the baseline and one must recognize if those disturbances represent a specific threat or opportunity.
So, what do you need to do? What's Required:
Knowledge of the environment
Knowledge of terrain
Recognize predator behavior.
And how do we do this? We make the choice to pay attention. We make the choice to be an aware person and notice things others may miss. Like the person who is wearing a down parka in the dead of summer. I hope that would look strange to you.
So, my question for you is are you going to make the choice to be aware?