M* is pleased to present the first in a series of guest posts from Bo Smith on emergency preparedness, focusing on information Bo describes as “…what matters most’, to use the Covey-ism.”
Bo describes himself as, “A crackpot fundamentalist living in a small compound with his four wives and fifteen children. His hobbies include collecting ammonium nitrate and fuel oil, amateur pharmacology, shade tree gunsmithing, and yelling at passersby whilst wearing sandwich board signs revealing the end of the world. He resides in Murray, Utah.”
You can read more of Bo at his personal blog.
I’ve been involved with preparedness since back when folks called it “survivalism”. I am a product of the tail end of the Cold War. I remember quaking at night at the thought of a nuclear confrontation with the Russians. I’ve seen all of the movies, read most of the fiction (and a lot of the nonfiction), and sung along to “99 Luftballons”. One fringe benefit I’ve always enjoyed by being LDS is its official stance on preparedness and self-sufficiency.
I’ve always wondered why the majority of the Saints with whom I have broached the topic have rolled their eyes back in their skulls from either boredom or incredulity that someone would take preparedness and food storage seriously. Almost as bad are the individuals and families that treat preparedness like a checklist. “Okay, 1000 pounds of wheat? Check. Two cases of MREs? Check. Okay, done here, let’s go for ice cream.”
Some experience overwhelming feelings at the thought of devoting already limited resources to fulfilling this commandment. Some believe it takes thousands of dollars. Some devote no money at all, despite having sufficient means. Even FEMA and Red Cross use this checklist approach to preparedness. These attitudes all point to one problem. They emphasize “hardware” (stuff) over “software” (the stuff between your ears), and both of them over mindset. We should work to reverse this order, placing mindset at the top.
What is mindset? Mindset in this context is more than what you’ll find on http://www.ready.gov/. It is certainly more than just having a positive mental attitude (although that helps). It’s more a combination of their “Have a Plan” and “Stay Informed” with healthy doses of hope and smarts. Mindset includes mental rehearsals and “What ifs?” It includes planning, and contingencies. Know that even among the “good guys” (not including the criminals and opportunists) there are three kinds of people in any disaster: folks that have a plan, people with a “sort of” plan, and the unprepared. Your position on this spectrum, and the consequences, will depend upon your mindset and your plan more than your “seventy-two hour kit” or food storage. Mindset will dictate your ability to lead and to make prompt decisions in the face of adversity. Rehearsals in preparation will prevent the tunnel vision associated with panic. Let the masses panic. Your plan, information, and mental preparations will leave you calm; to do the things you must do to endure the emergency successfully.
Your family will rely upon you for leadership in an emergency. Considering potential disasters, incorporating them into a “mental tape loop” by thinking of the outcomes and possibilities will help you to cope with the emergency. Some people cannot and will not be able to cope. The unprepared are most susceptible. They will likely be confused or panicked. When people have not prepared these mental scripts, disaster interrupts their routine. Disrupted routines can cause mental breakdown. This is the time for you to give orders, direct, and lead your family. You can rely upon your “tape loop”, use your coping skills, and influence your family to face the situation with resolve.
Your worldviews act as a mental filter. By paying attention and continuously analyzing your thoughts, always checking your sources for accuracy and context, you can develop a useful, determined mindset. You can face a disaster with hope, having conditioned your mind to rely upon your own decisiveness, your own skills, and your own preparations. Your mindset will be an asset to both you and your family in any emergency.