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Guest Entry- Tim Larkin on the Importance of Mind Games

“The Importance Of Mind Games”

****************************************************** “Everything I ever really need to know I learned in Kindergarten.” – Robert Fulghum ******************************************************

One of the most revealing training exercises I ever conducted occurred while working with a law enforcement unit assigned to protect a high profile politician from another country.

In this particular country assassination was a very real threat for this politician. The law enforcement unit was comprised of some very sharp ex-military spec ops members that had outstanding training and real- world credentials as part of an aggressive counter- terrorist unit.

The problem we had with this unit was their inability to properly anticipate ambushes or potential assassination attempts in the exercises we designed. We knew it wasn’t a lack of intelligence, training, or ability.

So what was the problem???

What we finally determined was…

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They had adopted a defensive state of mind!

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Yeah I know, by this issue you probably already guessed that was the case.

But I mention it because my staff and I had gone into the training assuming mindset wouldn’t be an issue. In fact some of my guys had worked with members of this group when they were in the military and were shocked by this change.

How did we fix it?

We basically got them to do a role reversal. We actively encouraged them to think like assassins. The actual methods were more detailed and elaborate but the concept was essentially just a change in how they looked at the problem.

This resulted in an amazing increase in the unit’s ability to anticipate and counter assassination attempts long before the politician was ever in danger.

In debriefing this unit we learned they felt that since they were now in a unit designed to “protect someone” that somehow they now needed to be defensive.

In fact even the name of the unit affected this change.

Using English language for illustration purposes, their old military unit was a ‘counter-terror’ unit whereas the law enforcement unit was an ‘anti- terrorist’ unit.

In simple terms a counter-terrorist unit mission is to ‘hunt’ down terrorists while an anti-terrorist unit is designed to ‘defend’ against a terror assault.

It was very enlightening for me to once again see the power ‘words’ can have on performance. Even very seasoned operators fall prey to that trap.

So how does this relate to your day-to-day mindset?

I talk about the Cause-State but still I find many of my clients go through a day in Effect-State.


Because you get caught in the trap that to be a law abiding citizen you have to wait for something to happen before you can take action. This results in a very poor use of your ‘primary’ weapon. You’ll always be one step behind the aggressor.

It’s easy for me to get my clients that hunt to understand this. That’s because when they’re out in the woods hunting their prey, they have NO fear. In fact, there is eager anticipation as they try to find where the prey may be hiding. Using this thinking, it’s easy for me to get them to adopt the Cause State.

For those of you that don’t hunt, think about when you were a child, playing hide and seek. When you were looking for the ‘hiders’, there was NO fear in you.

You were actively engaged in your environment to seek out and capture these ‘hiders’. In fact, if you were good at the game, you found yourself role playing, asking yourself where you’d be hiding if it were your turn.

Well, that same ‘state’ you learned in Kindergarten is now a key tactic in controlling your fear and hesitation in life. You can actively engage your surroundings during the day without affecting your daily business.

Role reverse and play the criminal in your mind. Rather than wonder, “Who’s around that corner?” just ask yourself how you’d attack. Try this and see the difference in the way you feel.

Until next time,

Tim Larkin Creator of Target-Focus(TM) Training


Wild Geese Martial Arts any cause but our own

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