Guest Entry- Tim Larkin on the Importance of Mind Games

“The Importance Of Mind Games”

“Everything I ever really need to know I learned in
– Robert Fulghum

One of the most revealing training exercises I ever
conducted occurred while working with a law
enforcement unit assigned to protect a high profile
politician from another country.

In this particular country assassination was a very
real threat for this politician. The law enforcement
unit was comprised of some very sharp ex-military spec
ops members that had outstanding training and real-
world credentials as part of an aggressive counter-
terrorist unit.

The problem we had with this unit was their inability
to properly anticipate ambushes or potential
assassination attempts in the exercises we designed.
We knew it wasn’t a lack of intelligence, training, or

So what was the problem???

What we finally determined was…

* * * * * * * * * *

They had adopted a defensive state of mind!

* * * * * * * * * *

Yeah I know, by this issue you probably already
guessed that was the case.

But I mention it because my staff and I had gone into
the training assuming mindset wouldn’t be an issue. In
fact some of my guys had worked with members of this
group when they were in the military and were shocked
by this change.

How did we fix it?

We basically got them to do a role reversal. We
actively encouraged them to think like assassins. The
actual methods were more detailed and elaborate but
the concept was essentially just a change in how they
looked at the problem.

This resulted in an amazing increase in the unit’s
ability to anticipate and counter assassination
attempts long before the politician was ever in

In debriefing this unit we learned they felt that
since they were now in a unit designed to “protect
someone” that somehow they now needed to be defensive.

In fact even the name of the unit affected this

Using English language for illustration purposes,
their old military unit was a ‘counter-terror’ unit
whereas the law enforcement unit was an ‘anti-
terrorist’ unit.

In simple terms a counter-terrorist unit mission is to
‘hunt’ down terrorists while an anti-terrorist unit is
designed to ‘defend’ against a terror assault.

It was very enlightening for me to once again see the
power ‘words’ can have on performance. Even very
seasoned operators fall prey to that trap.

So how does this relate to your day-to-day mindset?

I talk about the Cause-State but still I find many
of my clients go through a day in Effect-State.


Because you get caught in the trap that to be a law
abiding citizen you have to wait for something to
happen before you can take action. This results in a
very poor use of your ‘primary’ weapon. You’ll always
be one step behind the aggressor.

It’s easy for me to get my clients that hunt to
understand this. That’s because when they’re out in
the woods hunting their prey, they have NO fear. In
fact, there is eager anticipation as they try to find
where the prey may be hiding. Using this thinking,
it’s easy for me to get them to adopt the Cause State.

For those of you that don’t hunt, think about when you
were a child, playing hide and seek. When you were
looking for the ‘hiders’, there was NO fear in you.

You were actively engaged in your environment to seek
out and capture these ‘hiders’. In fact, if you were
good at the game, you found yourself role playing,
asking yourself where you’d be hiding if it were your

Well, that same ‘state’ you learned in Kindergarten is
now a key tactic in controlling your fear and
hesitation in life. You can actively engage your
surroundings during the day without affecting your
daily business.

Role reverse and play the criminal in your mind.
Rather than wonder, “Who’s around that corner?” just
ask yourself how you’d attack. Try this and see the
difference in the way you feel.

Until next time,

Tim Larkin
Creator of Target-Focus(TM) Training


Wild Geese Martial Arts
any cause but our own

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