Situational Awareness is made actionable using the OODA loop. If you don’t know the OODA loop yet know this much: Col John Boyd coined the term- aka Boyd Cycle. It has 4 phases: Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. In some ways the Observe step is the most important for the average American.
This is because if you can effectively identify a potential threat before they get close to you- or better yet even notice you- you have the opportunity to avoid any unpleasant interactions. Watching eyes and hands can do quite a bit to help you ID a potential bad guy -be sure to watch those hands because that is where most attacks will originate.
One way to sharpen your observation skills is to play KIM (keep in mind) games. This is a very simple game: the idea is to study a group of 10-20 objects briefly, divert your attention to something else, and rely on your mental picture to come back to that group of objects to describe what you saw. Here is an exampleused by USMC snipers:
…they would put different objects on the table: a bullet, a paper clip, a bottle top, a pen, a piece of paper with something written on it — 10 to 20 items. You’d gather around and they’d give you, say, a minute to look at everything. Then you’d have to go back to your table and describe what you saw. You weren’t allowed to say “paper clip” or “bullet,” you’d have to say, like, “silver, metal wire, bent in two oval shapes.” They want the Intel guys making the decision [about] what you actually saw.
You can also do this with places you frequent during the morning rush hour (regulars in a coffee shop or restaurant), cars parked at work or on your block, or set up random arrays of objects at home like the ones pictured above. A nice variation is to have someone change an item in an array when you’re not looking (for example when you left the room) see if you can pick out the change without a cue from your buddy.
The more you practice these skills the sharper your observation will get. Here is a clever tip from the Boy Scouts for practicing KIM all on your own:
These are excellent ways to develop your children’s defensive skills – avoidance and recognition is especially valuable in a world where droves of people are oblivious to everything around them thanks to their smartphones.