By Cranford Blackmon

I would guess that the majority of you who read this have some familiarity with at least one sport.  Either you played or you watched.  Maybe you watch your favorite professional team or you watch your favorite 6-year-old play or something in between.  The point is this, you probably have at least some small understanding of how a particular sport or game is played.  Now you don’t have to be a sports fanatic to understand what I’m going to be talking about here, so stay with me!

In games or sports, there are rules.  Some of those rules are not visible, but are definitely known.  For example, in tennis you’re not allowed to distract your opponent’s focus by throwing your racquet at her!  Other rules are represented physically, like the bases that you MUST touch in softball.

But in almost all sports, there are physical boundary markers within which you must play.  In many sports, these are called “baselines.” These are very important in sports and they are also very important in the game of personal safety.  Of course the game of “personal safety” is one you NEVER want to lose, so pay attention team!

The point of baselines in a game is to tell you when something is “out of bounds.”  For those of you who have NO understanding of sports, “out of bounds” is bad.  A non-sports example:  someone you just met touching your arm in the process of telling you a story might be acceptable.  But putting their hand on your thigh while telling a story – OUT OF BOUNDS!  Ok, you get the point.

So it is very important to have an understanding of what is ok and what is NOT ok.  What is normal and what is not.  But for this to be useful to you in ANY situation, you must determine beforehand what those parameters are for you.  Just like in tennis, the baselines are set up before the game ever starts!

Volleyball on indoor volleyball court, elevated view

Once you set your own parameters, you then have a “baseline” to work with.  It becomes much easier and faster to realize when something isn’t right.  In personal safety, the sooner you can recognize that something isn’t right, the greater chance you have of getting out of, or through, that situation safely.

We actually cover this in great detail in our 3-hour Fortress Building class where we teach you how to set up and enforce your Personal Boundaries, whether at home, work, or traveling.

For this article, I just want to focus on using baselines to realize that something might be wrong.

Have you ever played those games where there are two pictures right next to each other and you have to find all the differences?  If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you can see some HERE. It’s a fun and simple game, but the ability to find what is new or out of place is a skill that transfers directly to keeping yourself and your family safe.

Now, how does this fun and simple game apply to “baselines” and to staying safe?  I’m glad you asked!

Take a look at this picture:

What’s wrong in this scene?  It’s practically impossible to say, since we don’t know what that desk normally looks like.  We don’t have a “baseline” to compare it to.  Maybe the drawer and door are always left open by the owner.  If that’s the case, then everything looks fine.  But if the owner of that desk is a type “A” personality and ALWAYS closes things, then something looks wrong.  We might guess that someone else has been snooping where they shouldn’t have been, or even stealing something.

This is why it is so important to have a baseline to compare what you are seeing or hearing against.  How do you do that?  You start paying attention to your home, the lights you leave on or off, the doors that you keep closed, the containers you keep put away, the way your home smells, the windows that you never open, the noises your house makes, and so on.

This baseline knowledge of your home will allow you to notice much faster when something is wrong.  If you always turn the lights off before leaving home but return to see there is now a light on in your house, there may be someone there that shouldn’t be.  If you use vanilla scented candles or air fresheners but when you come home you smell men’s cologne instead of vanilla, something may be wrong.  When you notice things like this, don’t investigate – call 911 and have an officer come out and investigate for you.  Your taxes pay for services like that, so use them.

You can create the same type of baseline for your neighborhood, your workplace, your school, and even where you gas up your car.  What cars are you used to seeing?  Who is normally there?  What does that area normally smell like? (Hopefully it normally smells good!) What lights are normally on? What doors and/or windows are normally open or closed?  What sounds do you normally hear there?

This may seem like a lot to do, but it’s not.  It’s also very easy.  Just start taking a moment wherever you are to look around at what is “normal” for this place.  And just because something is out of the bounds of “normal” at work (or wherever you are) doesn’t necessarily mean something is wrong or that you are in danger.  It just means you need to turn your awareness up and be sure that everything is ok.

You can do this without being paranoid or afraid.  You can even make it a game you play with your children.  That way you are teaching them to be safer in a very non-frightening way.  For example: “Hey Suzy before we leave for the store, let’s count how many lights are “on” at our house.”  When you return:  “Now that we’re back, let’s count how many lights are on again.”  Simple exercises like that can help you and your loved ones become far more effective in becoming aware of what is normal and what isn’t normal.  And that kind of knowledge, with a well-defined baseline of normalcy, can greatly increase your readiness and your level of safety.

To learn more about “Awareness” check out our 2 ½ hour class “Situational Awarness 101 (Shecret Agent)” by clicking HERE.

(Update: Some of our programs have changed. Subscribe to our email list to stay up to date.)

Until next time,

LaBCaF, LLC – Legs And Brains, Claws And Fangs

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