In the late 1980’s I was working on a construction site as a part of a masonry crew. I was a teen at the time. The scaffolding was…we will just say that it was not set in any way that would be approved by even a drunk safety inspector. There was a stack of 2X12 in. boards set to level the back end of the scaffold on the far end of the structure. These 2X12 boards were stacked up a little over two feet high. With a couple of cinder block under the stack, you know- to make it stable. The entire structure was wobbly from the start. Each section had a stack of 2X12 boards to level the frames, but the end one was what had me worried because of how high the boards were stacked, and I was sure that if it went, in my mind, the entire scaffolding would fall.
Sure enough, when we were working about twenty feet up, someone tried to climb the scaffold from the end where the tallest stack of boards was. Aaaand they used the stack as a step. The stack of boards collapsed, and the scaffold began to fall like dominoes.
Having rehearsed this in my mind, I had a plan. I had decided that if the entire structure tipped over and fell at once, I would ride it to the ground and jump clear at the last moment. But if it were to fall the way it was falling now, I would jump for the sandpile and roll. The sandpile was past the end of the scaffold structure and I would be safe there.
I jumped for the sandpile. I remember as I was falling that I had a sudden realization that the sand while cushioning my landing, would also make it impossible to control my ankles and knees upon impact. Of course, I also realized that this realization came much too late to do me any good whatsoever.
I hit the sandpile, rolled, and ended up on my feet. I was very proud of myself for having survived the landing. I was sure at that moment that I must have looked like a two-hundred and sixty-pound ninja. My pride dissolved when I turned around and saw that the scaffolding was still standing. It was almost at the same point of falling that it was when I turned and jumped off. One of the other masons was looking over the edge of the scaffold down at me and asked, “Little skittish, ain’t ya?”
While embarrassed at the time, I look back on this now and laugh. I share this story to illustrate a point.
Plans will work or they won’t when the crisis comes. You have to know that going in, or you will fail to act at all when the moment arrives. That day, I had a plan, and when the moment arrived, I acted on my plan. This was because I trusted in my plan, and had a willingness to act.
Transfer this idea to a home invasion or an active shooter or any other crisis.
Many people have never had to confront violence. As such, they do not know what they will do when the moment arrives. If you have no plan, you can be assured that you will go through a period of indecisiveness. Depending on the seriousness of the situation and your proximity to the threat, this indecisiveness may last the rest of your life.
Having a plan is essential, but having the willingness to act on that plan is vital. You can have the best plan in the world, but if you are unable to take action, it is meaningless. When the time comes to act, you need to act as if there is nothing in the entire universe except what needs to be done right now. In some situations, what needs to be done is not nice or pretty or anything even resembling what think you are really like. But hard choices happen. If you have the willingness to stop the threat, you are better off than the person who does not.
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