Sheepdog Strong

I’m reading a book by ex-SEAL commander Mark Divine called Unbeatable Mind.  It’s a self-help styled book about personal growth and mastery, chock full of techniques for leadership and how to make yourself a more effective person.

One section particularly struck a chord as I have been working a theory about political philosophy that emphasizes personal responsibility as a means to limited government. Coach Divine talks about sheep as a metaphor. A flock of sheep will be grazing in a field, going about their business as if nothing else in the world impacts their existence. Meanwhile, the wolves spend all their time trying to find ways to scheme their way onto the plateau to harm (aka eat) the sheep. Up above watching over the defenseless sheep is the sheepdog, who pounces on the wolves if they get too close or pose too serious a danger. They exist to protect the flock of sheep.

The sheep are ordinary citizens, the wolves are terrorists or general bad guys, and the sheepdogs are the military or other first-responders and righteous citizens.  Coach Divine’s SEALFit program is all about building people up to be the future sheepdogs.  Many participants are pre-SOF candidates or like me, just looking for a full mind/body philosophy to train me to be the best person and leader I can be.

There is a section on training to be “sheepdog strong” that really got me thinking about the general populace’s perspective on protection. Coach talks a lot about what sheepdogs need to do to be prepared to protect others and what it takes to have that level of commitment and focus on the task. But I question why the sheep don’t care about their own security?

I read a tweet the other day something like, “I know the biology of the frog we dissected at school but nothing about how a mortgage works”. It struck me as poignant that in many cases we really are teaching the wrong things to kids. And if we take this life-skills question one step further, why do we not teach personal awareness and security?

Many of the simple strategies for developing sheepdog awareness can be taught to anyone. And why not?  Sweeping your eyes around a restaurant, looking for the egress routes, identifying choke points and vulnerabilities, scanning for threats, being vigilant in crowded public places, etc.

These are all strategies that could be taught.  Taught to adults and to children. They could be ingrained at a younger age with the notion that protecting yourself and your fellow citizens is both a virtue and a responsibility.

More importantly, as we watch the wolves and we see them strategizing against not only the sheep, but also the sheepdog, then we should recognize a need for change.  It is impossible to dedicate requisite numbers of sheepdogs to protect us against a crafty and more formidable pack of wolves. The liberal mentality that we can always rely on the sheepdog is a fallacy.  That world is gone. The sheep need to be their own sheepdog. This requires getting off their asses and taking it seriously.  Even if you can’t be a professional sheepdog, you can train to be sheepdog strong. You owe it to society, you owe it to yourself.

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About Josh Rutstein

I am an aspiring entrepreneur and hopeful political candidate. Father of 2 very special girls and passionate American. I snowboard whenever possible and follow a 20x mentality for exercise. I also play golf and ultimate frisbee and am a die hard New England Patriots fan and season ticket holder. Everyday I wake up wanting to make this country a better place, someday I hope to actually succeed.
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3 Responses to Sheepdog Strong

  1. Cindy Rutstein says:

    Thing is Josh is that some people are artists and can barely balance a checkbook. Some are caregivers and cannot manage a credit card. Some are scientists and are scared of the tax collector. Some are teachers and great at helping others but not themselves. The gifts each individual is born with should be exalted and cultivated. If the genius who could find the cure for cancer, but can’t find his wallet ( much less a way to pay for college) is dismissed because he is poor or unable to support his work…well then, the whole society loses out. There are a bunch of other ways than this market — dog eat dog — to hell with everybody else whats in it for me? — economy. The mission is to have a critical mass of people that demand a better way.

    • Thanks Cindy! I think I might have touched on something unrelated that needs clarification. The artist, caregiver, scientist and teacher all took courses in grade school that have no bearing on their adult-life occupation. They took math, science, gym, social studies. Clearly there is precedent that we want people to be ‘well-rounded’ in ways that balance their natural gifts and talents. That makes them more effective and gives them better wherewithal to adapt their natural talent to the world around them. My point is on the choice of those subjects. Why are we not teaching hand:hand self defense to young girls in grade school and high school? Instead is dodgeball a more important skill for adulthood? Why are we not teaching compounding effects of interest, time value of money and how to evaluate a personal budget in Math? Why does a ‘critical mass’ have to ask government to do these functions for them? If a critical mass demanded nose-wiping services from government is that really a smart use of limited resources? Shouldn’t people learn to care for themselves? And if this is the case, why not teach them to be more vigilant in society? Israel requires military service of all its citizens and that promotes a sense of responsibility throughout their lives. As a result you wouldn’t say that Israel has no artists, scientists or teachers because they had to learn to periodically look over their shoulder.

      • Cindy Rutstein says:

        Josh your ideas are great. I re-read your post with a fresh attitude this morning. I think my original comment to your blog was leftover energy from another argument. It was a manifestation of “when you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”
        I am in agreement with you. We should all, to the best of our ability, build our skills to protect ourselves and each other. Right on!

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