Tuesday, February 3, 2015

When statistics matter ... fear vs. danger

I have always been uncomfortable marketing my self-defense courses. Let’s face it, I am selling a skill that people, even for those who walk through life denying violence exists or oblivious to the possibility, may never need to use. Statistically, according to FBI crime numbers, odds are pretty good that as long as you are a law-abiding citizen and don’t hang out in bad places with bad people, you are reasonably unlikely to be a victim of a violent crime.
My point, and why I am not very good at this marketing stuff, is that I tell people that they could just bury their heads in the sand and chances are they may make it out OK. I don’t like using incidents in the news as a catalyst to promote a course. It seems like I am capitalizing on a tragedy or using fear mongering for promotion.
It seems, however, that each time an incident hits the news, I get a new group of emails from folks wanting a self-defense course designed for their field. I spoke with someone the other day who pointed out that she and her friends decided they needed a course in light of the recent murder of an El Dorado Hills woman. In early January a woman was shot when a bad guy tried to carjack her.
In another conversation with a real estate professional I was told, “With what just happened in Elk Grove, people feel like they want to know more to protect themselves.” In early January, an agent was kidnapped, handcuffed and held at gunpoint. She was unharmed and the bad guy was later arrested.  
Even mentioning these stories feels like I am trying to capitalize on them.
The truth is, I think the world is a pretty safe place. I think we can avoid most of the danger by accepting that it is possible and paying attention to indicators that tell us danger may be afoot.
More importantly than preparing what to do when we are attacked, is preparing and learning how not to get attacked in the first place.  Statistically, this will usually be enough. But, like my coach, Tony Blauer said, statistics are irrelevant unless you are the one percent. Then they mean everything.
I don’t know enough about the details of each scenario to say anything that could have changed the outcomes or if they were changeable at all. What little I do know, it sounds like the murder victim did what I would suggest and ran away. The coward got a lucky shot.
Rory Miller, an expert on violence and self defense, wrote in his book, “The very essence of self-defense is a very thin list of things that will get you out alive when you are already screwed.”
While I get his point and understand what he is saying, I’d like to tweak it a bit: The very essence of self-defense is a much larger list of things MAY get you out safely before you are screwed.”
That is what real self-defense is about, managing your fears and making the best choices you can for your life and safety. It is about balance.
So here is the point. You don’t need a self-defense class because the world is getting more dangerous. You don’t need one because of what you read in the paper or heard on the news. You don’t need one to learn how to win a fight.
You need one to learn how to NOT have a fight.
You need one because you recognize there is danger in the world but you don’t want to be controlled by your fear of it.

I recently watched a cool Ted Talk by an astronaut named Chris Hadfield He was talking about fear vs. danger. After awesome stories of space exploration, he came around to his point about fear. It was only after learning how to manage his fears and work within them that he was able to see the world from a beautiful and amazing place ... literally. You should too.
Stay Safe.

1 comment:

Brad Longazel said...

Excellent post, love to see passion and good writing.