As society becomes more aware of various situations that can put our safety or well-being at risk, we understand the importance of being prepared to deal with unexpected circumstances when they occur. The Special Forces recommend several key strategies for everyone not to be caught off-guard. Here are five suggested ways of responding to an unexpected event that may require clear thinking and quick action.
Take a Deep Breath
The body’s natural response is the fight-or-flight reaction. Traditionally, we typically want to defend ourselves or flee danger. However, before doing anything, it is a good idea to catch your breath while doing a quick assessment of the situation. Breathe deeply to clear your thoughts and calm your body. As you feel yourself relax somewhat, use your senses of touch, taste, sight, sound, and smell, or whichever ones apply to the situation, to perceive what is happening and to formulate an appropriate response.
While it is natural during a crisis event to feel a rising sense of panic or even hysteria, the important goal is to stay calm. Remind yourself that the situation is temporary and that you have a strategy for an appropriate response. Fear is to be expected, but it can be managed if you remind yourself of an effective way to deal with the factors that are confronting you.
Mentally Rehearse in Advance
Before anything critical happens, take time to plan out your response at home, on the job, or even in public. You cannot predict how a situation might unfold, but you can be prepared to stay calm, do a quick assessment, and follow the pre-planned strategy. Common responses are to evacuate if possible, to hide or escape injury if you cannot get away, or to address the person or precipitating event directly to bypass it or get it under control. Explosions, assaults, attempted thefts, car accidents, and severe weather outbreaks are the type of situations that require thoughtful, deliberate action. When you mentally rehearse ahead of time, you will be ready to do everything right within your control.
Focus on the Moment
Sometimes an event can happen so quickly that you barely have time to catch your breath and decide what to do. Remind yourself to focus on the immediate situation, not what might be happening elsewhere or how the situation could get further out of control. While planning and preparation are important, your priority should be on the imminent state of affairs so that you can respond suitably and then assess the next part of the problem.
Assess the Options
If you have enough time to evaluate the situation in more detail, consider all options, and choose the one that appears to be the best solution. For example, if a smoke alarm goes off in the middle of the night, do you climb through a second-story bedroom window onto the roof or feel the bedroom door handle to see if it is cool enough to warrant opening the door for a quick appraisal of the fire alarm? Or should you call EMS before doing anything? Strategize your options before you have to implement them in order to react in ways that will optimize the outcome of the situation.
No one enjoys the thought of dealing with an emergency. But spending a little time now to plan your initial response if something should happen will likely increase your peace of mind and instill greater confidence in your ability to come safely through a catastrophic event.
Brandon Webb is a former U.S. Navy SEAL, Sniper, and finished his time in the Navy as the Naval Special Warfare Sniper Course Manager. A passionate Entrepreneur (Crateclub.us) and a New York Times bestselling author. Brandon Webb is a member of YPO New York City and, Harvard Business School OPM 56. Brandon Webb wants to thank all of the readers out there!