In week 2 of Jon Pascal-isms, the above statement is attributed to LA County Sheriff’s Deputy Dave Piquette. Deputy Piquette was killed in the line of duty in a vehicular accident on July 7, 2006. He was among many other things a Krav Maga Force Training instructor. I never had the privilege of meeting or training with Deputy Piquette. I did, however, meet his mother while I was on a training trip to the Sheriff’s Department Training Academy, where there is a memorial garden in Deputy Piquette’s honor. So prior to reflecting on such a man’s thoughts, it’s necessary to commemorate the man himself. Click here for more details on Deputy Piquette’s career and his passing.
“Stay ready so you don’t have to get ready”
Like many of life’s pearls of wisdom, one can take this to extreme, with laughable results. I’ll not be blamed for untoward zombie-apocalypse preparation (although a little zombie apocalypse prep is well-advised). Further, there’s a particular brand of egotism that assumes one even can be ready for anything.
But while the one extreme is easy to mock, the other is flat out dangerous. Time and again at Krav Maga Maryland we meet people who were not ready for the eventuality of a violent confrontation. Or, they were not ready for a health crisis precipitated by neglecting proper activity level and nutrition. Readiness can have dire consequences if you ignore it.
To put this in more manageable terms, think of the two concepts of proactivity and reactivity.
I’ve spoken with friends who feel as though their professional and personal life is a series of reactions. It is as though their work, their friendships, indeed their life in general, is something that is happening to them, not something that they are doing. Doing nothing to prepare for a crisis and assuming your reaction will be sufficient is a sure recipe for disaster.
All of us face circumstances for which we were not, perhaps could not, be prepared. Those reactions are often not our best. But many practice a mindset of reactivity that it becomes our default posture. Like my previous post about the pain of regret, reactivity is a position that doesn’t require us to seek it – it will seek us if we are not intentional about choosing otherwise.
Another insidious aspect of reactivity is that, even as it minimizes our ability to respond in a prepared fashion, it also minimizes the level of responsibility we are willing to take for our choices. If we take no steps to prepare, we subconsciously give ourselves permission to be the victim of whatever happens to us. More than most of us are willing to admit, we wallow in the consequences of unfortunate circumstances because it’s easier to do than helpful steps of preparation beforehand, or recovery following a tough situation.
Proactivity is just what it sounds like. The prefix “pro-“means “before”. It is action prior to when it is needed. Just last week I got into a discussion with an individual who felt as though putting a priority on safety preparation – whether in the form of self-defense classes or otherwise – equated choosing to be driven by fear. I thought this to be laughably ignorant. Controlling fear breeds inaction, not productive action. Staying ready versus scrambling to get ready gives an abiding sense of calm. Many questions have already been answered, many problems have been solved. Further, we all live like this is true in some sense. If you lock your door, check your smoke alarm, wear a seat belt, or take a vitamin, you believe it is better to stay ready than to get ready. But those are easy things to do – they take little effort, there’s external accountability, and to various degrees it’s not socially acceptable NOT to do them.
So how does one know the balance of healthy proactivity vs. paranoia? I turn, of all places, to Alcoholics Anonymous. While the Serenity Prayer doesn’t originate with AA, it’s been made famous by people who, in very destructive fashion, take ownership of decisions that are not theirs while forsaking choices that are theirs. Some form of it is as follows:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Even with self-defense training, fitness training, or anything else in life, there are things outside of our control. We can stay ready for that which is within our power to prepare. We can make powerful choices not to be reactive. We can rest knowing that we have done what is within our power to do.