Life Lessons From the Battlefield, “People never rise to the occasion, they only fall back to their current skill level”

Anyone can adopt this lesson: a teacher, nurse, police officer, investment banker, bartender, etc.

In Afghanistan 2012 the greatest threat was an insider attack. A vetted, government employed, Afghan soldier you live and work with 24/7 would turn on you in a blink of an eye and kill you. They were sleepers, working for the enemy and would attack you at your most vulnerable time. 

How do you mitigate the risk? 1: Everyone is armed with at least a pistol at all times: sleeping, eating, exercising. 2: Lower our reaction time to limit the number of rounds the attacker can get off. AK-47s can empty a 30 round magazine in 6 seconds. I trained every day with my sidearm: malfunction drills, reloading, using my left hand, awkward fighting positions, etc.

One day I’m at a Governor’s meeting dressed just like I am in this picture, no body armor, no helmet, just a Glock with 45 total rounds. After the meeting ended, one of my female interpreters told me an afghan soldier made derogatory comments toward her. I went back inside alone to inform his boss, bad decision! While inside a crowded room with 15+ armed men, a man approached my left side and put his AK-47 on full auto. I was close enough that I put my hand on his weapon, I gripped my Glock still in its holster and just stared at him. I had absolute confidence that I trained hard enough to handle this situation. That level of confidence was undoubtedly visible in my eyes to this would be attacker. In the poker game of life, do you want to hold a royal flush or hope your poker face is good enough to bluff?

Unlike poker, you can improve your hand by hard work. What is the greatest threat to your job? Are you improving every day to handle it? Are you training to handle the next stock market crash? What new technology is out there that just made you a nonessential employee? Do you execute the fundamentals of your job flawlessly? Do your peers look to emulate you or is it the other way around? Invest in yourself now, because you won’t rise to the occasion.

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