Tuesday, May 17, 2022

The Hierarchy of Resiliency - Phase 0 - Baseline

The Hierarchy of Resiliency  - Foundation and  Phase 0 

Establish Baseline (You are here)
    General Physical Preparedness

    Time Management

Preparation for Phase 1

If I only had an hour to chop down a tree, I would spend the first 45 minutes sharpening my axe.” – Abraham Lincoln.

The baseline level of the hierarchy of resiliency is necessary to develop a solid foundation to set us up for success in the following levels. 

If we use the metaphor of a journey it is hard to plot your course if you don't know where you are starting from.

You are here

How do you find where you are?  How to you determine your baseline resiliency?  You can take ACE / PCE resiliency tests on line.  They consist of 15 - 20 questions regarding life experiences you encountered before you were 18 years old.  If your numbers indicate, and you are not currently receiving counseling, finding and speaking with a councilor is your first step.

A side quest, if you will, for the TYR project and this blog is to destigmatize mental health treatment.  In the upper mid-west of America if a Law Enforcement Officer sought out help from a personal trainer to get into better shape there is no shame associated with that.  That Officer does not feel the need to keep it secret.  They never have the thought that I will lose my job or specialty position if it is discovered that I got help maintaining my health.  More than likely they brag about it and receive positive social feedback for the effort.  If that same Officer sought out help from a councilor for their mental health they absolutely still have those fears.

The next level of the resiliency hierarchy is regular exercise.  To maximize the benefits of exercise next, it is important to understand where we are now (you are here on the map).

How to we determine our baseline physical fitness / general physical preparedness?  There are plenty of baseline pt tests you can find online.  If you are reading this blog I imagine you are a martial artist, interested in personal protection, a force professional, or some combination of the above.  You can click the link for tests relevant to the physical requirements / standards for those goals.

Keck - O - Meter Tests

Now that we know where we are,  we can start developing the foundation on which we will build our resiliency pyramid.

The next step is getting sufficient sleep.

This mortal form grows weary...

What is sufficient sleep?  Throughout the TYR project we will discuss the idea of minimum effective dose.  

Why is this important - especially for folks who may have a wrestler's live in the grind mind set?

Well, if working out three times a week is good for your physical and mental health, then working out six times a week is twice as good right?  It is just simple math!  If training your resilience is causing more stress than it is reliving it is counter productive and detrimental to you goals (making you less resilient)

Finding the minimum effective dose (for you) is a way to work smarter not necessarily harder.

There are a lot of things we need to accomplish.  There are many things competing for our time and attention, and we only have so much energy to devote to all of these things.  The minimum effective dose is the amount of time / effort required to achieve the desired effect.

What is the MED for sleep?
Most adults need 7 to 9 hours, although some people may need as few as 6 hours or as many as 10 hours of sleep each day.

Like Honest Abe spending time sharpening his axe before he cuts down a tree (or vampire) I suggest allotting some of your sleep time to sleep hygiene to get the maximum restorative benefits of sleep

What is sleep hygiene?  Like shower before bed?
Good sleep habits (sometimes referred to as “sleep hygiene”) can help you get a good night’s sleep.
Some habits that can improve your sleep health:
  • Be consistent. Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning, including on the weekends
  • Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing, and at a comfortable temperature
  • Remove electronic devices, such as TVs, computers, and smart phones, from the bedroom
I'm not taking the TV out of my room, and usually the last thing I do before I go to bed is set the alarm on my phone.  This has to work in the real world.

So say I have 8 hours in which I can sleep.  The first hour is quiet, dark, and relaxing.  Maybe reading a book to help turn off the thoughts of the day.  Then seven hours of quality sleep.  I would argue that 6 hours of quality sleep are better than 8 hours of restless / subpar sleep.

I was talking to guys on the tactical team about this.  They all made jokes and gave reasons why they can't. I understand their points, and their skepticism.  This is difficult, and shift work makes it even harder.   It isn't easy, but we need to make the attempt.  We may not always succeed, but it won't be from lack of trying.  There are many things competing for our time and attention, and we only have so much energy to devote to all of these things.  Sleep / restoration is not selfish.  Just like the flight attendant instructs  - in case of an emergency put your mask on first - then you can help others, you will be unable to give your time and attention to anything if you don't take care of yourself.

Pre-sleep "rituals" may also be an excellent time to incorporate mindfulness into your daily schedule.
Mindfulness doesn't need to be any sort of woo woo Zen magic spell casting.  It is any activity that quiets your mind, and shut out external stimulus.  It can be a simple as a few minutes of "tactical" or box breathing

Time management
Without this it is very easy for the other levels of the pyramid to feel overwhelming.  Make time to do what is needed.  Do what you can with the time you have.  Change as circumstances and priorities change.

You can click the link for a basic time management spreadsheet.  For phase 0 your time management needs to include sleep, mindfulness, and in preparation for phase 1, three days a week for exercise.  Your first three work outs can various baseline physical preparedness tests.

This is the foundation.  This is the base level.

The world may knock you back to this level from time to time.  But the stronger you have developed you resiliency (the further up the pyramid you have climbed ) the harder it will be to knock you down and the easier it will be to get back up

“The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows.  It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done. Now, if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hit, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you are because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain’t you. You’re better than that!” ~ Rocky Balboa


In the baseline portion we found out where we are.  Continuing with the metaphor of a journey it is also hard to plot your course if you don't know where you want to go.

So...What are your goals?  How do you plan to get there?

If you'd like some help figuring that out, you can click the link bellow for some goal setting / action plan work sheets.

Work Sheets

Phase 0 Summary
Establish Baseline (You are here)
    Action Steps:
        Resiliency  - Take ACE / PCE Tests     
       General Physical Preparedness - Take PT tests

    Action Steps:
        Counseling - find a trusted resource
        Time Management
            Sleep - schedule 6 - 10 hours a night
            Mindfulness - schedule a few minutes every day
            Find three days a week to work out during the next phase
Preparation for Phase 1
    Action Steps:
        Set goals
        Develop action plan

The Budo Blog will return...

Train hard, train smart, be safe

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

The State Of My Head

 After Violence Dynamics in November, I was full of go get 'em.  Chasing the idea of "best self".  Another example of the myth of the static state.  "Best self" takes work to achieve and maintain.  Just because you were at your best yesterday doesn't mean you will be today.  In blogs to follow I will discuss a hierarchy of resiliency, with "Hustle" being at the top.  Hustle is an expression of best self.  When you have the time, energy, band width for passion projects.  In November I was full of go get 'em, but life happens.  Every time I was hustling, I couldn't concentrate on the passion project.  I had something in my head and I couldn't proceed until I got it out.   So I forced it out, part of that process is sharing it here.

To process what was in my head in a way that other people could understand, and therefore be useful, I used a SMEAC.

SMEAC is an acronym used for tactical planning.


The last few years have placed additional stressors on everyone. Additionally, this may be the most stressful time to be a law enforcement officer in American history.  On top of that, there are even more additional stressors on tactical operators.  

In the last two years:

Name Redacted - Team Leader, Sniper - break down - PTSD retirement from Law Enforcement

Name Redacted - Team Leader, Energetic Breacher - break down - SUICIDE

Name Redacted - Fire Captain - Tactical Medic - break down - PTSD retirement from public service

Name Redacted - Team Leader, Sniper, K9 handler - break down - Leave of absence, likely PTSD retirement from Law Enforcement

I have a ton in common with these guys - they are me - they are my tribe.  Why did they “break”?  Why haven’t I?  Is my turn around the corner? Am I a ticking time bomb? Can I prevent it? If so can I help others prevent it?

Every time I was hustling, I couldn't concentrate on the passion project. I had something in my head- is my turn around the corner? Am I a ticking time bomb? Can I prevent it? If so can I help others prevent it?


To increase operator’s resiliency, helping them mitigate and manage stress and its effect on their mental and physical health. To enhance an operator's ability to recover from traumatic events.

On top of my own life experience and training, recently (after the suicide) I have been seeking out additional education and resources. I was done crying and I needed something to attack. I needed a mission. I needed to put this angry somewhere. I needed to convert that energy into something positive.  

I was fortunate to attend the following classes at the special operations training association conference this spring.

Mental Health Resiliency

Participants will learn about the different forms that trauma can take from the typical big "T" events to others that usually go unnoticed. This presentation will walk attendees through the different presentations of trauma and understand antecedents to trauma while getting a better understanding of personal vulnerabilities. The presenter will then move into how to overcome the effects of trauma and describe resiliency factors that prevent burn out, compassion fatigue, and longer lasting effects of the hazards of the profession.


Hector Matascastillo - South Metro SWAT

Owning Your Wellness: Nutrition, Sleep, Exercise, Community

It's up to each of us to own our own wellness. Life, both work and home, will throw things at us and disrupt our best-laid plans. This session will talk about practical tips and strategies to make sure we are focused on the wellness things that matter most.


Paul Nystrom - Provicta, MD

After those classes I started transitioning my thoughts into a plan. There are direct correlations to preparing for physical conflict (which in itself can be traumatic), and preparing for / recovering from trauma.

Physical Conflict - 

You do not rise to the occasion, you drop to your level of training…in an adrenalized body.

So, you work to raise your level of training, and learn to mitigate the negative effects of adrenaline.

Trauma - 

Traumatic events (Big T) knock you to your baseline resiliency…while you continue to deal with everyday stressors (Little T).

Baseline resiliency can be trained.

So, you train to raise your baseline level of resiliency, and learn to mitigate the effects of trauma

Traumatic events may knock us off our best selves. However, the higher our baseline resiliency is the faster we can recover.

How do we raise our baseline resiliency?

It became clear that the best practices for training your resiliency include:

  • Regular Exercise
  • Solid Nutrition
  • Sleep
  • Mindfulness
  • Meaningful positive relationships

Outside of any conspiracy theory or political debate take a look to the response to Covid and its effect on mental health.

Regular Exercise

    Close the gyms

    Close the Dojos

    Close the parks

Solid Nutrition

    Limit store hours

    Supply chain issues

    Junk food delivered to your house

Meaningful positive relationships

    Can't meet face to face

    Can't travel

    Cover your face

    Can't see loved ones in hospital

    Can't have a funeral

Being forced to follow arbitrary and capricious rules that have no basis in logic and achieve nothing.

Is there any wonder why the last few years have placed additional stressors on everyone?

I needed something to attack. I needed a mission.


The mission is to encourage Operators to engage in these resiliency enhancing activities on a regular and consistent basis and have an accountability process for training your resiliency.  It is my hope that through this accountability process regular face to face human interaction will be increased.  Conversations will organically occur.  If / when these conversations transition to something like bro, I am not good - I want the Operators to have the skills to transition that conversation directly to counseling from a trusted source.


TYR (Train Your Resiliency)

TYR phases

Phase 0 - Baseline 2 weeks




Time Management

Preparation for Phase 1

Have participants examine their baseline resiliency. Destigmatize counseling by encouraging participants to seek out treatment (lead by example - my first appointment is in June).

Establish the foundation of a resilience hierarchy. Get enough sleep. Take a few minutes every day to quiet your mind, and shut out external stimulus.

Fill out physical goals worksheets and develop an action plan to get there. 

Phase 1 - Regular Exercise 6 weeks

Once that action plan is developed  - there must be a method of accountability. It is easy to quit if no one is watching.

Participants owe their peers, the old gods, the team at least three workouts per week.  Proven with a picture.

There is a reason you have all seen my ridiculous post workout selfies.

Phase 2 - Sound Nutrition 6 weeks

Phase 3 - Rule of 3 6 weeks

Phase 4 - Hustle

Administration and Logistics:

Admin (Who)

Volunteers for Beta testing (to start)

Ramsey County SWAT (Next after Beta tests)

Logistics (How)

Daily / weekly check ins (communication) documenting accomplishment of resiliency strengthening activities 

Command and Communications:


As Executive Officer I will run this program


Each Stick will have a chat group. Operators will provide proof of progress to these groups. Team leaders will share with me.

Beta test participants will need an accountability buddy and establish communication protocols with them.

On Monday I started Beta testing phase 0

It feels good to have this out of my head and into the world. The result as you can see is I can hustle (this blog is the result)

More to follow - The Budo Blog will return with "Hustle"

Train hard, train smart, be safe