Left of Bang is a book co-authored by Patrick Van Horne and Jason A. Riley that explores the concept of situational awareness and how it can be used to identify and prevent potentially dangerous situations. The book draws upon the experiences of military and law enforcement personnel to provide practical insights and techniques for developing situational awareness in everyday life.
The central thesis of the book is that situational awareness is a critical skill for anyone who wants to be able to respond effectively to threats and opportunities in any environment. The authors argue that situational awareness involves a mindset that is constantly vigilant and attuned to the people, places, and events in the surrounding environment. This mindset is developed through training and practice, and it can be applied to a wide range of situations, from personal safety to business management.
One of the key concepts that the authors discuss in the book is the OODA loop, which stands for Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act. The OODA loop is a cognitive model that describes how people process information and make decisions. According to the authors, the key to developing situational awareness is to shorten the OODA loop, so that individuals are able to observe and process information more quickly, and make decisions and take action more effectively.
To achieve this, the authors suggest a number of techniques and practices that can be used to enhance situational awareness. These include:
Pre-incident indicators: Pre-incident indicators are behaviors, actions, or events that occur before an incident takes place, and that can be used to predict or prevent the incident. The authors provide a list of pre-incident indicators that can be used to identify potential threats, such as abnormal behavior, changes in routine, or unusual activity.
Baselines: Baselines are the normal patterns of behavior, activity, and environment in a particular setting. By establishing a baseline, individuals can more easily identify changes or anomalies that may indicate a potential threat. The authors suggest that establishing baselines is an essential first step in developing situational awareness.
Body language: The authors place a strong emphasis on the importance of body language in developing situational awareness. They provide a detailed analysis of the different types of body language and how they can be used to assess the intent and emotional state of individuals in a given situation.
Decision-making: The authors also discuss the importance of making rapid, effective decisions in response to threats. They argue that the key to making good decisions is to focus on the most important information, and to avoid being distracted by irrelevant details.
At the conclusion of the book, the authors leave us with this:
“Those who prepare and train themselves for the possibility of violence will react differently than those who do not. Those who are not prepared will likely panic and will ultimately become helpless (Condition Black). Those who are prepared will still experience anxiety but will be more likely to maintain awareness and act effectively in a stressful situation (possibly going as far as Condition Red).”
Words to live by.