Tuesday, November 30, 2010


     There is a concept that is foundational in the thinking of the greatest martial artists, spies, athletes, security professionals and criminals (as well as several other key occupations).  I'm not saying I would ever become a criminal, but I'm also not saying it would be a bad thing to understand their thinking.  If a person can think like a criminal, they can protect themselves and the organizations or people they work for.. not to mention their own families from becoming the victims of a criminal act.  But it might help to focus on the other occupations, just because.
      So what is this all empowering concept?  The title of this post? Ok yeah I could have been a little more creative, but there's more to it than just being aware.  Ignorance is not bliss, at least for any professional martial artist, and perhaps some insanely geekish black hats.  But what in the world do we need to be aware of?


      Make sense yet?  How about an example: a Russian spy working in the United States is walking home from his cover job on an average day.  He turns a corner and notices that a man in a black suite is carrying an M9 handgun in a shoulder holster.  If the spy was not able to differentiate between an M9 and a Beretta 92 (something I must admit I would have no clue how to do), there could be some severe consequences... the M9 is military issue and the Beretta 92 is not.  That piece of information could be key in identifying the man and remembering the face.
      That might be a very bad example, but it gives you an idea of how a spy could benefit from knowing a seemingly random bit of information.  Its not as random as it might seem, although there is a lot of information to sift through depending on your target field.  Everyone can benefit from becoming more aware.  Its simply a matter of choosing the right target area.
      If you want to learn something, it is best to familiarize yourself with the surrounding field before jumping knee deep in studying the wrong thing.  Programming is the best example of this.  If I want to learn to program, I must first choose a language that I plan to study.  Making this choice can be difficult when there are so many languages in use.  If I first find a decently comprehensive list of all the best programming languages, and then gain an understanding of the ways that each language is used, it will be a relatively easy choice.
      Another simple example: Information Technology professionals benefit from knowing hundreds or even thousands of acronyms for protocols and technologies. Why?  Not only will they be able to understand the day to day operations of their own job better, but put them on a brainstorming team for a new project, and they will blow the minds of their colleges because they know exactly what the best solutions might be, and they'll know why.
      For someone like me, who wants to delve as deep into as many subjects as I can, becoming aware of many things is important.  There are some exercises that I've developed to help me become more aware of everything around me.  When I'm riding in a car (or sometimes driving...) I will choose a particular part of a car, say the bumper, or the door handle, anything really.  Then I look at that part on every car that passes by.  This exercise helps me become more aware of every facet of the design of cars.  Sometimes now, all I need to see is one part of a car and I can tell you what make and model it is and approximate the year.  This usually comes naturally to mechanics or auto body specialists, but when you're not actively working in an industry, it's a little harder to keep up with it.

    Know of any good ways to become aware of specific things?  What things are you more aware of than the average person might be?

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