Awareness – Part 2: Strategic Awareness

Strategic AwarenessAll Personal Defense starts with being aware of your surroundings.  Awareness is a combination of observation, intuition, and mentally developing possible outcomes.

A person that has developed a good sense of awareness greatly increases their ability to stay safe.  They see problems as they occur – perhaps before they even start.

If we increase our awareness, we improve our personal safety.  This series of blog posts will discuss ways to develop and enhance our awareness.

Situational (Strategic) Awareness

This is actually a natural extension of the first step – increasing your Awareness Zone.  You are taking in much more information – but what do you do with it?  Processing this information is the underlying theme of this post.  Just having additional information is good, but it won’t improve your safety.  You have to start to recognize what is, or may become, important.

What is important to note?  That is the challenge, as it can vary substantially depending on your location and activities.  Start with the simple things that you know are safety related, like where the exits are located.  Add to them things that are unusual or out of the ordinary.

As you become more intentional about looking around, you will naturally start to ‘see’ more – meaning you will mentally file things away that might be useful if you are being threatened.  You begin to make mental notes of little things, like where the exits are located, or where the security guard is standing.  You see what portion of the parking lot is not well lit.  You notice people coming in doors that you thought were locked or are designated as exits.

This extends to noticing others and making mental notes of them as well:  That person over there is carrying that package a little strange.  That guy must be with those two over there.  That person has been to the same three stores I have been to… and now I think they may be watching me.

Note that you don’t need to make mental notes of everything and everyone – you couldn’t do that even if you tried.  You are primarily looking for things related to safety, and things out of the ordinary.  Like someone wearing a long coat in the middle of summer.  Or taking off a backpack, sitting it on the ground, and then leaving the area.

This practice applies to any area of your life.   Consider how you would apply it to driving:  That person is drifting back and forth in their lane – and I’m not sure if they are impaired or distracted.  There is a big truck pretty close behind me.  That person reached this 4-way stop about the same time I did.  We call this ‘defensive driving’ – which most of us were taught before we got our license.  It’s a bit ironic that most of us were NOT taught anything about ‘defensive walking!’

Of course this aspect of awareness hinges on the what we discussed last time – increasing your awareness zone.  If you are not looking out far enough, it greatly decreases what you see (obviously) and it decreases what you might find to be helpful – or detrimental – to your wellbeing.

In the next post, we will look at extend this concept a little further.  For now, keep working on extending your awareness zone and on noticing things that could be of strategic benefit (or detriment).

Remember – Personal Defense is not a destination, but a journey – and awareness is a great example of this.

Share how it’s going on our forums at  It will be a huge encouragement to me – and to others on their Personal Defense journey.

Be Safe!