I am no expert, but I can share. Contemplating what training or experience I have that could be of value to the community at large in a SHTF scenario, and it appears to be a bit of a struggle to decide what is pertinent. We all have our own experience, patterns, and muscle memory from day to day. I suppose that what I share here is as much an example of the importance of the give and take communication, as it is no matter where one is on a spectrum of learning, they can contribute.
Truly it is important to see the Prepper Parallels in your everyday life. Let me explain. We live in concrete jungles, rural roaming, cloisters, communes, etc. We all feel we have our place, our work, our calling, and our hobbies. The thing of it is…if you have done anything for any period of time you know two important things. (No, two important things is not the ceiling I am touting).
Number 1: You are an expert in something. It is that simple. What is it? What have you developed out of necessity, affinity, boredom, or mentoring from someone you love and respect? Is this viable to your survival?
Number 2: You have more to learn. No matter the level of expertise you have amassed, you are almost surely learning new things everyday or innovating in some manner. This is true because if it is work you have to keep apace or ahead of the game to be competitive. If you are competitive and it isn’t for work…it is a passion and you at the very least have bragging rights on the line, so you are motivated.
These two points of realization are of significant note because there is information you can share with the rising generation or with people in your circle of trust is of great value. Let’s take examples from life…
What is your profession? No I am not quoting “300” here. You are not all Spartans. I classify myself as a Jack of (almost All Trades, Master of some. I had 10 years in the National Guard with significant training opportunity. I was never deployed…It felt at times, as though I had abandoned my friends I had trained and prepared for war with. I had not control over it, I volunteered for multiple deployments was never activated. Twice, a unit I had trained with was notified of imminent deployment within a year after I transferred between states or, most recently, when I was discharged.
The last unit I belonged to was an infantry unit which had returned from deployment a year or two prior to my transfer. I found myself leading men who had experience I did not. I did however find myself tasked with leading lower enlisted soldiers who had less experience in the military by far than me, and yet mountains more combat application of the skills we are trained with. Here is where I found the most unique opportunity to lead and teach. It was simple things, time management, knowing when not to volunteer, knowing when volunteering becomes inevitable, money management…any friend you ever made in boots ends up having a counselor who wore the uniform.
My life experiences were not tactical in practice, but life experience counted and helped at least a few I was privileged to serve with. I had served as a medic prior to this…I was always tasked with teaching the lifesaver course to other infantrymen, utilizing prior government investment in my training to spread thin resources of the one lonely line medic in our company, to double its efficacy. I simultaneously found myself absorbing new army medic doctrine that had been developed since I had originally been trained one and a half enlistments prior. I was able to lead by example on the lowly details. I would point out that a good leader leads from the dirt as much as they lead from the front. That is what I noticed most about good leaders I had, and I strive to do that to this day. I strive to do this with my small children. If I am not willing to do the work with them, no one will, and a secondary effect is likely my children disaffecting from me.
I was no hero to men who had already been in harms way to protect our freedoms. There was no grand gesture on my part to be something more than I was. What I can say without a doubt is that I was real to them, treated them like equals while initiating orders and working towards goals and mission in training. I am and was as human with them as anyone, annoyed, irritated at times…there is little to nothing that appears redeemable or noble about the “hurry up and wait” that happens in the military, All of the Time! But, in the moments where we knew a task had to be done before we got to rack out, sign out, or go out on the town, we buckled down to get our task done and then go to the next squad and see if we can help finish their task…intrinsic though our motivations may be, to get the reward of our own time when duty is done.
One Step at a Time
I look back at these and many more experiences in the military and I can’t share some golden rule of tactics, or training, and as a beginning prepper either. It is all one step at a time, cumulative information that is put into practice often. I am a nurse now and frankly I repeated steps in medic training so much that the emergency medicine I know bleeds into nursing education we share with patients more often than not. Not because I had to use it, but because I drilled it enough to where it fills in the proverbial blanks that nursing school left. I have made intuitive connections from both disciplines that have become invaluable and in my particular niche of nursing I use that info or share it everyday.
My point here is…be the subject matter expert (SME) my cadre talked about. Be confident in your experience in your niche, as much as you acknowledge that you can always learn more. I don’t care if you are like the Athenians in “300” potters, weavers, farmers instead of career soldiers. I know a large number of soldiers who were trained to adapt in any combat environment and struggle to adapt to civilian life, parenthood, some even struggle to adapt enough to choose a hobby. If you have a hobby, interest, or a critical skill work to develop it. If you are a solid tactical shooter keep practicing, work to hit the “10,000 hours” needed to perfect a skill. Become the master you have imagined you were chasing. I once heard someone explain
Interestingly Malcom Gladwell who immortalized the concept of dedication in an art or a sport requiring 10,000 hours, apparently didn’t interview the scientist he based his thesis on (Anders Erricson). So, there are articles out there that illustrate how he misinterpreted the information, concluding that it is about the hours. In a sense I believe the hours count, but I have been mentored before and often the adage was “perfect practice makes perfect”. I believe this is closer to the truth…but the underlying truth that I don’t think anyone addresses effectively is that the challenges in life or the cataclysms of the world do not wait on us. The timeline for the championship is not scheduled out for the day when I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am a master, that I am ready. Challenges are challenges precisely because one has to adapt in order to overcome. There is no guaranteed victory, in the context of our forum here, survival is not guaranteed. So I determine to share the information I have as often as the opportunity presents itself.
Learning to Communicate
Likewise, I determine to learn from any source that I can and/or feel inspired to, as often as I can…in the moment learning and teaching. I find that I am the type that talks through a problem rather than go completely introspective. If I am talking with someone, I trust I find that sound-boarding and listening to a trusted source are equal partners in my ability to address a problem or a need and start moving toward a solution. I contrast this with my wife who is inherently a student. When we first married, I could ask her a hypothetical question that sparked my interest, after which she would listen to me talk it out, usually with the kind acknowledgement of ideas and showing her interest in my thoughts. Two days later she would return to the subject I had talked about for an hour or more. Her insight was invaluable, but her standard response took time and study to solidify; mine of course solidified before her eyes…or ears when I was waxing philosophical two days prior. We both have moved towards the middle in this aspect of communication, and we are better for it. Nothing she said necessarily weakened the foundations my rambling may have laid in setting my opinion on a matter we discussed. Her opinion after study and reflection, often reflected many points I had made. It was never one of us placating one another, and still isn’t. This adaptation has benefited us both.
Similarly, I find the same type of symbiotic relationship exists with my children in unique ways. My oldest son and I are very much alike, in more ways than I was prepared for, my daughter and I are chaotically aligned, my youngest son is special needs. I, as their parent grow more adept every day at teaching and mentoring them in the way that they will understand irrespective of how I may have taught the same general principle to the others. I also am learning from each of them when I am patient enough to listen…not the least of those lessons being how to see their point of view and cater to their needs.
You Teach What You Know
I initially was inclined to talk about emergency medicine. I could teach almost anyone how to initiate an IV, set a tourniquet on your friend or yourself when bleeding. I can explain the finer points of needle chest decompression and why it works. You teach what you know, right? For good reason. I found that this topic about contributing your efforts, expertise, and enterprise to the group; as a whole, as a service really came out more organically. I ran with this instead of trying to figure out how to combine appropriate use of gauze, tourniquets, and tennis balls (…yes I had all three in my medic bag) to stem hemorrhage on a battle field or in an auto accident, with how military flanking or room clearing tactics will save your life when SHTF. I think those skills though important and potentially connected when the world finally falls into the h*ll handbasket connection, are only a drop in the bucket.
If you can put forth the effort to prep, you can combine that passion and effort with your parenting. You can teach your kids to navigate a map and a compass, how to start fires six ways from Sunday, and how to acquire center mass on the range, all the while establishing your bond with your family and friends; learning more along the way. Even if that learning is distilled down to the category of I have to teach this person differently than that person…or even inevitably the What Not to Do’s.
I reiterate more than anything that gives me peace when I lay my head down, besides my personal faith, (which is another conversation that is reserved only for face to face), is that I am making the most of the two rules mentioned earlier in this message.
Number 1: I am an expert in at minimum one thing…more really. As I am sure most of you readers are also; you know how to wipe your own behind, conduct a passable level of hygiene, you can feed yourself from mere scraps in the refrigerator when you are to tired or broke to go to the store. If you haven’t mastered that last one, did you even experience your twenties? More importantly, there are areas in your life that you have dedicated yourself. It may not be in the same field as the experts you take advice from…that is okay, you are here to learn right?
I had friends in the units I belonged to who often didn’t feel their MOS was very important. I think of some of our radio guys for instance. However they were versed in the most basic radio protocols, the FCC regulations that were pertinent in all domestic environments…but when I was assigned to assist them, they broke out individual satellite dishes and set up a network that would accommodate a battalion in the field in less than an hour and tested it, then put it all away again even more quickly. My point is, find out what your are an expert in, develop it and teach it. Do Not Discount Your Contributable Skills! I temper that rule with, just because you have a skill doesn’t mean your run whole-shot over anyone else’s contribution. Your contribution may be more important in a given scenario…but remember you are in the same group of preppers for a reason.
Number 2: You have more you can learn, and it is a privilege. Learning is a privilege. It helps us hone our craft as well as how we can assist the future generations to do it better than we. Be competitive in your focus and perfect practice, be better than you were the day before, be better than your buddy when a favor or a beer is on the line. All of that competition can help you grow. However, this is tempered by the humility of we are all contributors and needed. I am not on an anti-bullying campaign here, either. It is simply no matter how ego and emotion play a part of how we feel, communicate, and treat one another, if Schumer is really hitting the fan, we must work together to survive and succeed.
I won’t get into the examples I saw in training missions or service projects here. I will revert to the concept that your group you trust and or love are chosen by you. In the military you usually are assigned to a team, you don’t choose who your are working with and yet the mission still has to come first. In prepping you have the luxury of choosing to be a part of whichever group or camp you choose. You have selected like-minded folk for your reasons. Don’t lose that just because “things just got real”. That is a cop-out that you cannot afford…and is likely to come back to haunt you later. Ironically that principle is seamless in its application in everyday survival. Let’s be honest, these concepts in practice keep heads cool when trying to organize the bugout location, duties and schedule just as effectively as they ensure you stay friends with the folks at the water cooler and can survive until the weekend warrior activities begin.
If you are a prepper, share where you trust and are valued. Your learning curve isn’t over, but your guidance here may save the lives of many others because you opened your mouth when you knew something, rather than hanging back because it wasn’t your class or this isn’t your lane.
Don’t get cocky, but don’t diminish your own value, and if you can, bolster a brother by reminding them not to diminish their own ability or contribution. Knowing someone else cares may be just the right motivation to keep another from quitting.