Covey did a great job of explaining how people can be better organized, more efficient and ultimately more successful but his principals obviously fall short for those who find themselves at the figurative sharp end of the spear, dealing with society’s overabundance of senseless violence.

Therefore, we have taken the same concept and attempted to distill down those qualities that will make you a more effective and stronger person when the chips are truly down.

Sensitivity- This is undoubtedly the most esoteric concept of the bunch but one of the most important.  In this sense, the word is used to describe those who are keenly aware of their surroundings at all times rather than a writer of weepy poetry.  It seems a little odd to use such a word to describe a hardened warrior as ‘sensitive’ but to be successful (and stay alive), this is an enormously important trait.

Highly tactical people are keenly sensitive to everything that happens around them, sometimes eerily so.  The slightest rustle in the bushes, turn of a frown upon a stranger’s face, a dog barking, the roll of a pebble, snapping of a twig or a small flash of light in the distance will all be analyzed and interpreted for significance.  If you are not sensitive enough to detect and comprehend the meaning of each, there will likely come a moment when a warning of danger is ignored.

Courage- Everyone knows that you must have courage to effective operate in a potentially life-threatening environment.  Much has been written though the ages about courage, or lack thereof, but there is more to this topic than meets the eye.

A few years ago Medal of Honor recipients were interviewed by researchers and they found that nearly every Medal winner didn’t believe themselves a courageous person. Instead, the primary motivating factor in their extraordinary feats boiled down to a deep sense of commitment to their buddies.  Thus, it is easy to muster up a barrelful of courage if you just think about those people who are depending on you.

Adaptability- Does your life go to hell in a hand basket if things aren’t perfect?  Do you dwell and fret endlessly when two bullets end up outside the X ring? Does it bother you enormously if someone shares a tactic or technique that clearly shows the shortcomings of how you’ve been doing things. If this describes you, I might suggest that you reevaluate your tactical outlook.

The best-laid plans fall apart once they collide with the hard edges of the real world and you must be able to roll with the punches. This ability to overcome the obstacles of life sets apart those who survive and thrive.

Decisiveness- This is the ability to quickly making judgments upon the available facts, then carry out a response based on that information.

Whatever action you can effect immediately will almost always be better than that perfectly-polished plan that can be devised in two or three days.  The tactically-savvy person will quickly reach a decision and act instead of sitting around for hours wondering “what-if”.

Yeah, you might be second-guessed later.  Yes, there is a likelihood that your plan could eventually be made perfect with a few more minutes or hours of discussion.  However, as Voltaire mentioned, “Perfect is the enemy of good.”

Patience- This is the other side of the decisiveness coin.

Patience is the ability to wait and watch for the right moment to take action. This ability to be patient, when appropriate, allows you to exploit your enemy and the environment to the highest degree.

Learn to ignore physical discomforts and distractions. Most importantly, silence that inner voice that irrationally demands constant action merely for the sake of movement.  Imagine yourself to be the lion beside a water hole, digging in its hind claws in preparation for a kill while waiting for just the right movement to spring.

With patience, you too can be an ultimate predator.

Self-confidence- This is one of the hallmark traits of every successful person, especially the good warrior.

Self-confidence is different than simply being a loudmouthed jerk.  One who is self-confident has an intimate knowledge of their own capabilities and remains in command of themselves regardless of the circumstances. Most importantly they possess an unshakable belief that they will ultimately prevail regardless of the situation.

This is the person you want on your team when the chips are down.

Mental toughness- This was illustrated perfectly during a shooting class taught by the author.  The class included Betty, a nearly 80-year-old widower, along with numerous twenty- and thirty-something males.

The class had the misfortune of lousy weather the entire time. Two of the younger men constantly griped about the rain, the cold, their aching feet, windburned lips and everything in between.  Meanwhile, Betty repeatedly took her blistered, bruised and finally bleeding hands back onto the firing line time and time again without complaint.

When offered the opportunity to take a short rest due to her status as a “seasoned citizen,” she responded with a curt, “Honey, I came to shoot, not sit around.”

Betty was hard.  Several of the males were not.  Betty might have been physically frail but she was mentally tough.  It seems likely that she would be quicker to ventilate a bad guy than our preening young men who were decked out in all the brand-spanking-new “cool-guy” gear.

Betty wore a skirt that weekend but she probably should have been the one wearing the leg-holster, high-and-tight haircut and hundred-dollar sunglasses.

Betty had grit. Can you say the same?