Are You a Sheep or Sheepdog? Part III: Your Roadmap to Becoming a Sheepdog

by Brett & Kate McKay on May 28, 2013 · 78 comments

in A Man's Life

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Over the past two weeks, we’ve been taking a look at the sheep/sheepdog/wolf paradigm as set out by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman. In our first post, we introduced the analogy and these different roles: Wolves are the bad guys of the world, the evil sociopaths who seek to harm and exploit others. Sheepdogs are the guardians and protectors of society — those that aren’t afraid to stand up for right, even when it means going against the crowd, and have the courage to face danger and save others. The rest of us lie somewhere on the sheep-sheepdog continuum, with the vast majority of the population firmly on the sheep side. In our last post we explained the sociological and psychological reasons for this.

Now for today’s post, I had naively planned on laying out all the specifics for the physical and mental training a man would need in order to transform himself into more of a sheepdog than a sheep. But as I often do with series (remember when I thought our 7-part honor series would only take 3 articles?! Harharhar), once I dove into my research and investigation, I learned that there’s much more to cover than I originally thought. So rather than delving into the nitty gritty at this point, the goal with this post is to lay out some broad principles on what a man needs to do if he wants to become a sheepdog. The focus is on what Grossman calls the “software” or mindset in sheepdog training. Many of the points below warrant their own articles, and that is exactly what they will become over the next year. Hopefully, what this post will provide is a framework for these future posts and offer you a roadmap on your own journey to becoming a sheepdog. Also use the post as a resource page and jumping off point for doing your own research; we’ve linked to quite a few articles that ourselves and others have done over the years in regards to these topics.

Decide to Become a Sheepdog

Unlike the real-life sheep or sheepdogs which are born into their animal roles, humans default into passivity unless they make the choice to become proactive protectors. Grossman emphasizes the weight of this decision in his book, On Killing:

“In nature the sheep, real sheep, are born as sheep. Sheepdogs are born that way, and so are wolves. They didn’t have a choice. But you are not a critter. As a human being, you can be whatever you want to be. It is a conscious, moral decision.

If you want to be a sheep, then you can be a sheep and that is okay, but you must understand the price you pay. When the wolf comes, you and your loved ones are going to die if there is not a sheepdog there to protect you. If you want to be a wolf, you can be one, but the sheepdogs are going to hunt you down and you will never have rest, safety, trust or love. But if you want to be a sheepdog and walk the warrior’s path, then you must make a conscious and moral decision every day to dedicate, equip and prepare yourself to thrive in that toxic, corrosive moment when the wolf comes knocking at the door.”

So the first step in becoming a sheepdog is to simply decide to become one. Don’t take this decision lightly. There are heavy moral, physical, emotional, and psychological costs that come with it. When you decide to become a sheepdog, you’re also deciding to live a life of service to your fellow man, to run to danger when others flee, and to stand up for right despite the cost. Are you ready to accept those responsibilities and risks, and the consequences that come with them?

Adopt “If Not Me, Then Who?” as Your Mantra

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As we discussed in our previous post about our natural sheepishness, all of us are prone to the Bystander Effect. Whenever we’re part of a group, our inclination to help or take action when we see a threat or a need diminishes. You think that someone else in the group will do something, so you hold back. The problem is, that’s exactly what everyone else in the group is thinking too. While everyone is waiting for someone else to do something, no one does anything.

To overcome the Bystander Effect, adopt “If not me, then who?” as your personal mantra. Decide today that you will take action whenever you see something that is wrong. Stop thinking that someone else will come along and do it. Chances are they won’t. If you don’t do something, nobody will.

One example of a man who overcame the Bystander Effect by living “If not me, then who?” was an 18-year-old busboy named Walter Bailey. Because of Walter’s decisive action, he saved hundreds of lives in one of the most fatal fires in U.S. history. Back in 1977, Walter was working at the Beverly Hills Supper Club, a popular nightclub and theatre just outside of Cincinnati. Around 8:30PM on May 28, a fire ignited in one of the club’s rooms due to faulty wiring. Two waitresses walked into the room, noticed the fire, and went to alert their supervisors. Fire trucks were dispatched to the club, but no efforts were made to evacuate patrons. At the time the fire started, nearly 3,000 people were in the building, including members of a large wedding reception. Because the building lacked adequate firewalls, the blaze began to quickly spread to other parts of the club.

When the fire started, Bailey was working in another room, clearing dishes as over a thousand people listened to a comedic act. A waitress told him about the fire and he immediately went to let his supervisor know and recommend that he clear the room. His supervisor just gave him the brush, so Bailey went to find the club’s owners. But then he turned around. “This is stupid,” he told himself. “I’m wasting time. Either he has to clear this room or I will.” He told his supervisor again to begin the evacuation, but the supervisor shrugged and walked away. Instead of waiting for someone else to do something, Walter Bailey took matters into his own hands.

“This isn’t going to do,” he told himself. “This room has to be cleared out, and it has to be cleared out soon. I’m probably going to lose my job, but I’m just going to do it.”

Bailey boldly walked up the steps of the stage and grabbed a microphone right from the hands of a comedian in the middle of a bit. An awkward silence fell over the crowd. “I want everyone to look to my right,” he said. “There is an exit in the right corner of the room. And look to my left. There’s an exit on the left. And now look to the back. There’s an exit in the back. I want everyone to leave the room calmly. There’s a fire at the front of the building.” Then he left to warn other customers in other parts of the club.

Some of the people who heard Bailey’s warning began to leave, but many just stayed put (Normalcy Bias!).

The fire soon consumed the entire building. Two hundred people were injured and 165 people died that night, making the Beverly Hills Supper Club the third deadliest fire in U.S. history. But thanks to one young man who overcame the Bystander Effect by asking “If not me, then who?” hundreds of people survived.

Adopt “Not if, but When” as Another Mantra

“Instead of saying, ‘If it happens then I will take action,’ the warrior says, ‘When it happens then I will be ready.’” – Grossman, On Combat

I first learned this next mantra from AoM contributor and survival instructor, Creek Stewart. It’s how he ends all his emails and blog posts. As I researched for this series, I learned that not only is it a popular phrase among preppers, but also “professional” sheepdogs like soldiers, police officers, and firefighters.

“Not if, but when,” is a reminder not to live in denial of the fact that bad things can and will happen to you and those around you – that it’s not a matter of if, but when they happen.

In truth, you might very well go your whole life without getting in a violent altercation, being faced with an emergency situation, or grappling with a weighty ethical dilemma; the mantra describes a mindset rather than a statistical truth. But most folks seize on those chances and swing their mindset in the opposite direction — pretending that bad stuff will definitely never happen to them. While they recognize that evil exists or that natural disasters occur, they try to, as world-renowned security expert Gavin de Becker puts it, “compartmentalize the hazards in order to exclude themselves.” They tell themselves things like, “Sure, violence is a problem, but that doesn’t happen in this part of the city.” “Well, yeah tornadoes kill people every year, but we don’t have to worry about that here.”

Besides giving people a false sense of security, denial gives people a false sense of sophistication. People don’t want to seem overly paranoid about unseen dangers – it makes them feel cool and smart and above it all to wave off the need for such preparations. To them it doesn’t seem rational to train for things that might not happen, and figure that if by wild chance they do happen, they’ll just figure things out then, or that the government or aid organizations will see them through it anyway.

But to me, training to be a sheepdog is very rational. Here’s my own thought process on it: 1) even if my skills aren’t called upon in a crisis, learning those skills is enjoyable, offers a sense of confidence and mastery, and makes me a more complete and knowledgeable man, 2) even if my training isn’t called upon for a big crisis, those skills, along with my sense of confidence, will be very effective in solving smaller problems, 3) training for a variety of scenarios doesn’t necessitate paranoia, just awareness, and 4) if something does happen, I am completely ready, and don’t have to live with the “if only” regret: “If only I had a bug out bag!” “If only I took the handgun training!” “If only I took action!”

To me, there’s no downside, and it’s a very rational calculation. There is a time investment, of course, but I think all men would be better served carving out some time from our abstract cyber surfing to learn some tangible, hands-on skills. It feels good to have them, very good indeed.

I think in the end people don’t like to think of themselves as vulnerable, and to soothe the cognitive dissonance they feel when they do, they wave off training for those scenarios as paranoid or stupid. The discomfort is gone and they feel great about themselves. But they have no bulwark against a crisis besides this feeling of complacency.

Grossman says the thing that separates sheep from sheepdogs is denial. “The sheep pretend the wolf will never visit, but the sheepdog lives for that day.” When you live your life as if danger and evil will never come knocking at your door, you might as well open your mouth and say “Baaa.”

Be a Leader

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Remember, most folks quickly congeal into a mass of conformity when crisis strikes. They simply follow the herd, even to their detriment. And they’re easily led by someone who tells them what to do and where to go. Humans are predisposed to obey authority; they’ll follow anyone who seems credible. “It was a very strange phenomenon,” says retired New York City firefighter Jim Cline. “People will follow you, even when they don’t know why they’re following you.”

Now this can be a scary part of human nature, because it means that wolves, sometimes in sheep’s, or more accurately, sheepdog’s clothing, can direct people down a very bad path.

But it also means that true sheepdogs are absolutely vital – both to protect the sheep and to keep these wolves-in-disguise at bay and prevent them from luring the sheep into danger. Grossman defines true sheepdogs as those who not only have the capacity to lead, but do so in harmony with an inner moral compass that compels them to act for the good of the flock.

In times of crisis, when there is no leader, people become paralyzed by inaction, endlessly milling about and asking each other, “What should we do?” Studies have shown that groups that had leaders in a disaster were more likely to survive than groups that didn’t. For example, one study by the U.S. government that looked at three different mine fires found that the commonality among the eight groups that were able to escape was that each had a clear leader.

When it comes to leadership during a crisis, sheepdogs share a few things in common. First, they don’t bully their way into power; they earn the respect of others by their decisiveness, knowledge, and calmness. Second, like real-life sheepdogs, human sheepdogs aren’t afraid to bark at sheep-people if it means lives will be saved. In other words, sometimes you have to forsake niceties in order to save lives.

Airlines have spent a lot of time and money trying to figure out how to get more people off a plane after it crash lands. As we discussed in our previous post, normalcy bias causes most people in a plane crash to remain placidly in their seats. And even those who do get up have a tendency to look for their carry-on luggage before heading towards the exit! Then, when they finally reach the exit, they often pause indecisively for a long period of time before jumping to safety. Yet time is of the essence. You typically have about 90 seconds to get out of a downed plane safely, so there’s no time for lollygagging.

Aviation experts have found that by simply having a flight attendant (or some other person) stand at the exit and aggressively yell at people to move and jump, escape times decreased. The key is aggressiveness. These same researchers found that if flight attendants acted politely during evacuations, “they might as well not have been there at all,” meaning escape times increased.

Rescue workers tasked with saving people from a body of water will often bark at victims before getting to them. They’ve found that if they don’t, victims have a tendency to grab the rescuer and pull them under the water. Firefighters in Kansas City will often yell profanity-laced threats as they approach a victim in order to get their attention and so they don’t drag the rescuer down. Captain Larry Young says, “I hope I don’t offend you by saying this. But if I approach Mrs. Suburban Housewife and say, ‘When I get to you, do not f***ing touch me! I will leave you if you touch me!’ she tends to listen.”

Bottom line, if you want to be a sheepdog, you can’t be afraid to take the lead like Walter Bailey did at the Beverly Hills Supper Club and you can’t be afraid to get aggressive and bark at others. So if you’re a quintessential “Nice Guy,” the time to start working on your assertiveness is now; if you can’t tell your boss you can’t work this weekend, you’re sure as hell not going to be able to tell people to get out of a building. Practice being assertive in little things, so you have the confidence to be aggressive with big things.

Sure, some people won’t like you telling them what to do and will even resent you for it, but that’s to be expected. As Grossman says, “the sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. ” Rubbing a few folks the wrong way is a small price to pay to preserve the safety of the flock.

Train Hard

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“The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in battle.”

The most important thing you can do to overcome your sheep-like tendencies is to train them out of yourself. At least that’s what all the research on surviving combat and disaster scenarios tells us. It’s typically the people who trained and prepared for those events that survived and thrived.

To overcome the normalcy bias, you need to repeatedly train yourself to instinctively respond to dangerous situations. Training also inoculates you to the deleterious effects of stress that come with high-stakes scenarios.

There’s a saying amongst soldiers: “you do not rise to the occasion in combat, you sink to the level of training.” You can’t expect to magically perform in high-threat scenarios if you’ve never practiced for them. Moreover, when you do practice, it needs to be regimented and deliberate. You can’t half-ass it.

If you decide to own a handgun, make the commitment to learn how to use it safely and effectively every day. Attend classes taught by professionals; do your daily 20 minutes of focused dry fire so that handling your gun becomes second nature; make it to the range at least once a week for live fire training.

To ensure that your family (and business, for that matter) survives a tornado or fire, routinely have practice drills on what to do in those situations.

If you want to be able to help injured victims, regularly practice first aid skills.

If you want to be able to do the right thing when you notice an ethical wolf wreaking havoc in your company or community, role-play with your friends and colleagues on what you would do in various scenarios.

The day you commit to become a sheepdog, you also make the commitment to keep your warrior’s edge constantly sharp. There’s no time for periods of slacking off. The moment you stop training is the moment your skills begin to decline.

Mentally Rehearse

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In addition to regular physical training, researchers and combat experts are discovering that mental rehearsal is a vital part of success in high-conflict and dangerous scenarios. High performance athletes have known for decades the power of visualization exercises. Research has shown that athletes who regularly take part in intense visual imagery exercises perform better than athletes who don’t. It’s only recently that military and police forces have begun to apply this technique to combat and emergency situations.

Emerging research shows that warriors who take part in visual exercises display better marksmanship than those who don’t. There’s also evidence that visualizing successful management of high-stress situations reduces a combatant’s anxiety and stress response when the events actually occur.

Research has also shown that individuals trained in CPR who regularly visualize having to perform the technique respond faster to actual emergencies than individuals who just received the regular training. Not only that, individuals who regularly visualized performing CPR did the technique more correctly than individuals who didn’t practice visualization.

I plan on devoting an entire post to how to use visualization to boost your performance in a variety of situations — not just tactical or survivor scenarios — in a few weeks. Until then, here’s a brief rundown on how to use visualization to prepare yourself for life or death situations:

  • Make the visualization as vivid as possible. Incorporate all your senses and emotions.
  • Visualize problems and sticking points, but — and this is the critical part — always visualize yourself successfully overcoming the problem or obstacle. Never visualize failure.
  • Never rely on visualization alone. It’s important to combine it with tactical practice and role playing.

A few example scenarios you can use during your visualization exercise:

  • Visualize what you would do in a severe bleeding scenario. Vividly see yourself performing the requisite steps to successfully treat the victim.
  • If you’re taking a defensive handgun class, visualize a live shooter situation. Are there instances when you would or wouldn’t draw your gun? If you do draw your gun, visualize yourself successfully overcoming gun jams and other problems you might encounter. Always visualize yourself winning the fight.
  • To prepare yourself for becoming a whistleblower, visualize yourself finding incriminating evidence. Visualize yourself talking to the authorities; visualize the consequences of that decision — job loss, media scrutiny, etc. — but visualize yourself successfully managing and overcoming that stress and anxiety. Visualize the emotions and personal satisfaction of knowing you did the right thing.
  • Visualize what you would do in a plane crash. See yourself immediately grabbing your loved ones and heading towards the nearest exit. Don’t forget to imagine the smoke and flames that will likely surround you.

Build Your Resilience

When you decide to become a sheepdog, you accept the responsibility of running towards danger when others flee. A natural consequence of this responsibility is that you’re going to encounter potentially traumatizing events that can break your will to survive and thrive. While training, role-playing, and visualization can help give you confidence and inoculate you from stress, if you don’t have that iron will to keep going even when the chips are stacked against you, you can’t call yourself a sheepdog.

Research on survivors and professional sheepdogs shows that they tend to be a resilient bunch, some naturally so. While genetics plays a role in how resilient we are, we can actually strengthen our resilience through concerted effort.

A few years ago, we devoted an entire series of blog posts to how to increase your resilience. They’re all based on the latest psychological research. I recommend that you read through them and put the suggestions into practice. For a more in-depth look on how to boost your resilience, read the following books:

Develop Your Intuition

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“Technology is not going to save us. Our computers, our tools, our machines are not enough. We have to rely on our intuition, our true being.” —Joseph Campbell

For us men, intuition is one of those touchy-feely concepts that we typically associate with women. As Gavin de Becker explains, men “much prefer logic, the grounded, explainable, unemotional thought process that ends in a supportable conclusion.” But to become a truly effective warrior or sheepdog, you need to become more intuitive and instinctual.

According to psychologist Daniel Kahneman, our minds have two systems or ways of thinking. First, there’s slow thinking. That’s the type of thinking that we’re most familiar with. It’s what we use when we do math, make logical arguments, or deliberate a decision with facts and figures. Fast thinking, on the other hand, is subconscious, automatic, and emotional. Kahneman calls this type of thinking “System 1.” A better name for it would be intuition.

While our intuition can certainly steer us in the wrong direction, if properly trained and relied upon in certain contexts, it can save your life or the lives of those around you. That’s the premise of de Becker’s book, The Gift of Fear, a book I highly recommend you read.

It’s interesting to note that the root of the word intuition, tuere, means “to guard, to protect.” How appropriate for a sheepdog.

Take up a Martial Art/Combat Sport

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Sheepdogs, unlike sheep, have a propensity for violence – they just channel that capacity towards honorable ends. Sheepdogs must be capable and willing to use force to eliminate or at least subdue a threat. But as Grossman thoroughly explained in his book, On Killing, most humans (at least of the modern, civilized variety) have a natural repulsion to kill or even engage in conflict, be it physical or verbal.

I was talking to a gentleman at church a few months ago who is probably in his early 70s. Somehow fighting came up and he mentioned that he’s never been in a fistfight in his entire life. It’s not that he tried to avoid them; the opportunity just never presented itself. The great majority of men in America are in the same situation; they’ve never punched another man, nor know what it feels like to be punched. They’ve never grappled with another man, or been put in a headlock and experienced the surge of fear and adrenaline of being locked in hand-to hand combat. This doesn’t prevent the average man from imagining how he’d totally kick ass if the opportunity did present itself, of course, but if the experience of being in a physical fight is completely foreign to you, you won’t automatically know what to do when you find yourself in one. This is a specific area where it’s particularly important to train before the moment comes.

Develop Your Capacity to Love

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Sociologist and holocaust survivor Samuel Oliner has spent his career studying what causes some people to go to the aid of their fellow man. His research found that heroes have a few things in common. First, rescuers tend to have had healthier and closer relationships with their parents. Second, they’re more likely to have friends of different religions and classes. Third, and most importantly, heroes are empathetic.

While the sheepdog and wolf both have a propensity for violence, what separates them is that the sheepdog has a deep and abiding love for the sheep he watches over. Thus, while you’re training to use violence, you must simultaneously train to love.

How do you do this?

First, it’s important that you develop your empathy. Teddy Roosevelt called empathy “fellow-feeling.” It’s that ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and see and feel how they see and feel. As the great Atticus Finch put it, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view — until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” It’s hard to show love towards someone that you can’t empathize with. To gain empathy, you have to step away from your screen, and from solely interacting with fellow humans as disembodied selves. The more we rub shoulders with people in the flesh, the more fellow-feeling we develop for them. This feeling is heightened through service, especially to those who are different than us. The leadership of a sheepdog is that of a servant leader — so volunteer, become a mentor, and look for opportunities to serve in your day-to-day life. As you serve, you will come to love your flock.

Get in Shape

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Being physically fit gives you two big advantages in a high-conflict/high-stress situation. First, the man who is physically strong has a strength and endurance advantage over the man who doesn’t. All fights aren’t gunfights. Do you have the strength and endurance to successfully win in hand-to-hand combat? Could you chase down a purse snatcher? Lift debris off another personCarry someone to safety? Could you even save your own life?

Second, and more importantly, physically fit men handle stress better than their less fit counterparts. “Overall stress tolerance is great in well-conditioned individuals,” says Grossman and “they demonstrate a more stable mood,” as well as “show a clearer mental functioning under stress.” As we’ve discussed before, our physical and mental abilities begin to deteriorate in high-stress situations. However, it is possible to train our minds and bodies to continue to perform despite high levels of stress. Skill training and visualization are important pieces of this puzzle; fitness training is the third.

If you haven’t started a regular workout routine, but fancy yourself a sheepdog, make the commitment to start exercising today. We’ve laid out several workouts on the site over the years. Pick one that appeals to you and do it. I’ve always found it helpful to have some sort of goal or benchmark to work towards in order to stay motivated for exercise. Make it your goal to be able to pass the WWII military fitness test or fulfill the benchmarks old-time strongman Earle Liederman argued were proof a man could save his own life.

Nip Dishonesty and Unethical Practices in the Bud

While Grossman concentrates his discussion of the role of the sheepdog in physically confronting wolves, I think a true sheepdog is equally prepared to deal with wolves that weaken the fabric of society through dishonest and deceitful practices. He’s willing to stand up, be a whistleblower, and stop sheep from being fleeced. While it’s easier to imagine training for a combat or disaster situation, you can train yourself to be an ethical sheepdog too.

Grossman argues that only around 1% of the population are true wolves – real sociopaths – and psychologist Dan Ariely interestingly found this to be true when conducting experiments on cheating. Even when given the opportunity to cheat, and offered a financial reward for doing so without any consequences or chance of being caught, very few participants in his experiments cheated to the full extent possible. And yet most people still cheated – just by a little bit. For example, when given math puzzles to solve, offered a few dollars for each one they got correct, and allowed to self-report their performance, participants on average reported solving two more problems correctly than they really did. Ariely calls this the “fudge factor theory” – people want to gain financially, but they also want to be able to keep seeing themselves as good, honest people. They solve the dilemma by cheating just a little — enough to get an advantage, but not so much that it affects their positive self-image.

The problem with these little dishonest acts is that they can lead to a domino effect that poisons the ethics of a whole culture. Ariely found that the more someone cheated, the more likely they were to reach an “honesty threshold,” the point in which they became subject to the “what-the-hell effect” in which they would think, “What the hell, as long as I’m a cheater, I might as well get the most out of it.” They went from cheating a little, to throwing caution to the wind and cheating at every opportunity they could during the experiment. Ariely also found that dishonesty can spread like an infection through groups; because we look to each other to see what’s socially appropriate, when we see someone else cheating, we’re more inclined to do it too. His experiments led him to conclude that the best way to curtail unethical behavior in society is by nipping it in the bud while it’s still small and emerging:

“The bottom line is that we should not view a single act of dishonesty as just one petty act. We tend to forgive people for their first offense with the idea that it is just the first time and everyone makes mistakes. And although this may be true, we should also realize that the first act of dishonesty might be particularly important in shaping the way a person looks at himself and his actions from that point on—and because of that, the first dishonest act is the most important one to prevent. That is why it is important to cut down on the number of seemingly innocuous singular acts of dishonesty. If we do, society might become more honest and less corrupt over time…

Passed from person to person, dishonesty has a slow, creeping, socially corrosive effect. As the ‘virus’ mutates and speeds from one person to another, a new, less ethical code of conduct develops. And though it is subtle and gradual, the final outcome can be disastrous. This is the real cost of minor instances of cheating and the reason we need to be more vigilant in our efforts to curb even small infractions.”

To train to become an ethical sheepdog, practice integrity even in the small things – telling the cashier that they gave you too much change or fighting the temptation to offer a lie to excuse your tardiness. Setting an example of honesty will encourage others to act honorably too.

Ariely has also found that cheating greatly diminishes when people know they are being observed. That’s why it’s so important to have sheepdogs who are alert and aware (see below) and are willing to speak out even when small moral and ethical standards have been violated. Again, this may not make the sheepdog popular – people don’t like a “narc.” But the sheepdog’s role is to stop the “infection” before it slowly spreads and weakens the flock.

Semper Vigilantissimi

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Semper vigilantissimi. Always vigilant. Real-life sheepdogs are constantly on the lookout for threats. They’re always scanning their environment and investigating if things don’t seem right. If you wish to be a human sheepdog, you must be equally vigilant. You should always be in a “relaxed alert” frame of mind, or what defense expert Jeff Cooper calls “Condition Yellow.” When you’re in Condition Yellow, no specific threat exists and you’re not paranoid about nonexistent threats. You’re simply aware that the world is a potentially dangerous and unfriendly place and you’re ready to defend yourself or take action to assist others. When you’re in Condition Yellow, you’re constantly taking in information about your surroundings in a relaxed but alert manner. You’re what tactical experts call “situationally aware.”

Conclusion

As I mentioned at the outset of the post, there’s no way that I could cover everything a man needs to know in order to become a sheepdog in a single article. As you can see, even laying out these general principles has taken up quite a bit of space! However, I hope that this post has provided you with a roadmap on what you need to do in order to overcome your natural sheepishness. I know many of you are hungry for more details on many of these concepts, but I hope you will believe me when I say they’re each worth an in-depth post of their own. I’m really excited about revisiting them in the coming months and hope you are too. Here are some of the subjects we will be taking up in-depth this year, in addition to continuing our usual sheepdog-related articles on things like gunmanship, first aid, fitness, self-defense, and survival:

  • How to Develop Your Intuition
  • How to Inoculate Yourself Against Stress
  • How to Use Immersive Visualization
  • How to Develop Situational Awareness
  • Levels of Awareness
  • Hack Your Mind Like a Twenty-First Century Soldier
  • How to Increase Your Personal Integrity and the Foster Integrity in Society
  • The Sheepdog Library (the best books on developing into a sheepdog)

Any other skills and mindsets you think I should cover in the future? Please let me know in the comments!

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Sources:

On Killing by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman

The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes – And Why by Amanda Ripley

Warrior Mindset by Dr. Michael Asken, Loren W. Christensen, Dave Grossman and Human Factor Research

On Combat by Dave Grossman and Loren W. Christensen

The Survivors Club: The Secrets and Science that Could Save Your Life by Ben Sherwood

The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker

The Honest Truth About Dishonesty–How We Lie to Everyone, Especially Ourselves by Dan Ariely

 

{ 78 comments… read them below or add one }

1 80's guy May 28, 2013 at 11:00 pm

Are you a shark or a sheep?

You’re a shark. Sharks are winners. And they don’t look back because they have no necks. Necks are for sheep.

2 Joseph May 29, 2013 at 12:05 am

Thank you Brett and Kate for a fantastic article. I look forward to the future! I just wanted to share an instance in which I had mentally rehearsed a particular situation in my head and then how I dealt with it accordingly when it actually happened.

A situation I was afraid of encountering, and still would not look forward to, was being cheated on by a girlfriend. I decided in my mind that if that were to ever happen, I would break up with that girl. Well, some time ago it actually happened. When she told me, my body went on auto-pilot (she still expressed desire to work it out). It felt like my mind smashed the emergency glass and proceeded to do what it had been trained to do. I thanked her for her honesty, told her I was breaking up with her, and left her place. It wasn’t until after I left that all of the emotion started to flow in, of which I realized needed to be handled with love and forgiveness. Nevertheless, preparing for such a catastrophe helped me to deal with a crisis. It’s also like one of my old bosses said: “Proper prior planning prevents piss-poor performance.”

3 Nathan May 29, 2013 at 12:10 am

Learning how one’s community or country responds to disasters can be valuable knowledge. I can’t speak for other countries, but in the U.S. FEMA uses a specific emergency management system called Incident Command System that works from the federal level down to the local level. You can take courses (called ICS 100, 200, etc.) on ICS for free at training . fema . gov. In addition, there are local teams called Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) that allow people to volunteer to offer assistance in case of emergency.

4 Ben May 29, 2013 at 12:46 am

Hi all.
I’d like to share something with everyone. When I first started training in the mystical arts of gun-fu, I would have this recurring dream.

I am conforted by a dirtbag, aiming his gun at me. I already had mine out. He is about to shoot me. So, I fire in self defense. When I try to fire, the trigger felt like a 20-pound trigger. The gun will not fire. I would try again. It still did not fire. No click. No bang.

I thought I had a Type 1 malfunction (no round in the chamber because the magazine was not seated properly). I would fix it quickly: tap, rack, and roll. I’d fire again; still no joy.

I had this dream on and off for months. It was a nightmare for me. I’d wake up disturbed that I could not get my gun to fire, even though I know from shooting numerous United States Practical Shooting Association matches that this never happens. The gun fires every time during these matches. How can it be so?

I thought I was having a moral dilemma. But what kind of moral dilemma is this? In my dream, someone is literally trying to me kill. How can I be having moral and ethical reservations in a life-or-death situation?

I was also concerned that if I were ever going to be in a real-life situation like this that when the moment of truth came, I would be unable to rise to the challenge.

What was the reason?

I would find the answer a year later. I had the privilege and honor of attending one of Lt. Col. Grossman’s Bulletproof Mind seminars. He actually presented the same scenario, the one in which the 4-lb trigger feels like a 20-lb trigger and the gun will not fire! He asked the audience how many of them have had the same dream. Sure enough, over 50 of the 200 in attendance, including me, raised their hands. He said this happens because we have not trained enough. The way to fix this is to keep going to the shooting range and keep training mindfully. By mindfully, I mean to make every round you fire a round where you learn something. We all know shooters that go out plinking, shooting mindlessly at objects without figuring out what they did right and what they did wrong. The purpose of any round you fire is to learn something. That is my training philosophy, whether shooting competitively or defensively. You should also practice malfunction clearances with snap caps (dummy ammunition) in the comfort of your own home. Practice the cases where one of your hands have been “disabled” and you have to present, shoot, and clear malfunctions with the other hand, only. Practice presenting your pistol from concealment and shooting on the move. After all, if a wolf ran at you with a knife and you shot him statically, he will still be on top of you stabbing away. You need to put some distance between you and him.

As for me, did my problem go away? You bet. Many months later, I had the dream again. Only, this time the gun fired.

5 Carl May 29, 2013 at 3:21 am

I’m really curious about the sheepdog library. This was such a good article. Now I just need to start

6 Remy Sheppard May 29, 2013 at 5:44 am

You remind me of a story my brother told me: He was at work and there was a small fire in one of the printing rooms. The two women there walked out of the room and ran into my brother. He said, “Whats up?”

They said, “Oh there’s a fire so we’re going to tell [the supervisor].”

My brother said, “What is she going to do!?” Ran into the room, grabbed the fire extinguisher that was by the door and put the fire out.

They were amazed that it was possible to take action without first running it by a higher up.

Good article.

7 Bart May 29, 2013 at 6:04 am

It’s a nice article, but am I the only one who is slightly amused by an article leading you to become a leader not a follower?

8 Thomas May 29, 2013 at 6:37 am

This was an interesting series of articles. Thank you very much. It had some new and interesting details and thoughts, even though I already knew about the sheep/sheepdog model.

I’ve read about it first in the blog of Rory Miller, years ago
http://chirontraining.blogspot.de/2005/09/world.html (I’ve read On Killing later).

So, why am I posting my first comment ever? I’m a young police officer and Rorys books were the best indirect “how to” sources I’ve ever seen on this.

Why indirect? He doesn’t directly talk about this model anywere else besides this blog from 2005, as far as I know.
But damn, he knows a few things about unpeasant situations and especially dealing with violence (studied psychology, worked as a bouncer, a jail-guard and as a supervisor to mentally ill prisoners, member, trainer and later leader of a hostage rescue team, went to Iraq to train their prison guards).

This last part is obviously a big one for me, as a police officer.
And I think the “wolves and sheep”-metaphor has violence pretty much inherantly written all over it as well.

Ok, he knows this stuff, but more important: he can explain it in useful ways. What help is an academic psychology book on criminals if somebody sticks a knife in front of your face? Not much, I can say that from personal experience. How much help is a simple, gettable model of different typs of violence with concrete explanations on how to recognize them? And how the different situations may or may not be defused? Again, from personal experience as an officer: not one other source helped me even nearly as much.

Example: there are big differences between two young male guys who are unsure of themselves and get into a fistfight, a person getting punished after breaking rules, somebody looking for a reputation, an outsider getting into the stuff of an closed group, a mugging or an attacker who just likes to dish out violence, and so on.

The first big distinction I’ve never seen anywhere else and that changes almost everyting: is something group-related (rank, status, reputation, rules,… social) or is there no connection to group motives (asocial)?

Ok, I obviously can’t explain this model in any more detail here, so consider it a teaser to get an idea what I’m talking about. As I said: this stuff helped me more than any other single source or trainer.

You said: take up a martial art – yes, absolutely. It can’t hurt… Or can it? Actually, I see one problem with many martial arts. They train how to “fight” but never look at how violence actually happens. Rory once said: “it’s easier to instill confidence then competence” and I agree. If your stuff never gets tested or used it’s easy to believe you have it even though there are flaws in your training. Now, I’m *not* saying “go, pick up fights”. Fighting is always dangerous and this would be stupid, amateurish and not very sheepdog-like. More like an insecure wannebe. But you should try to check if your training actually fits the problems you would have to face in the real world.

Here are the two single best sources I’ve ever read on this topic (and I have quite a big bookshelf):

Meditations on Violence: A Comparison of Martial Arts Training & Real World Violence:
http://www.amazon.com/Meditations-Violence-Comparison-Training-ebook/dp/B001RNOH6W/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1369820114&sr=8-1&keywords=meditations+on+violence

This was Rory’s first book and in my opionion it should be required reading for martial artists who care about self defense (if it is just about sports, tournament or fun, no need to look at the sometimes dark topic of violence). Too many people only study their art and never look at the different dynamics of violence: how situations may differ, how different typs of criminals/violent people act and (most important) how this influences the options you have, with or without fighting. Would you trust somebody to build your house who trains with his tools regularly but never, ever bothers to learn anything about, well… houses?

Facing Violence: Preparing for the Unexpected
http://www.amazon.com/Facing-Violence-Unexpected-Rory-Miller/dp/1594392137/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_pap?ie=UTF8&qid=1369820228&sr=8-1&keywords=facing+violence

His second book. It’s less emotional but better structured. It has seven chapters:
-ethical considerations and force law
-violence dynamics
-avoidance & deescalation (not the same
-reflex actions against surprise (big one)
-the freeze (everybody freezes when truly surprised, big one)
-the fight
-the aftermath of violence, injuries, legal and psychological consequences

And it’s not only the best general overview over all this. For most points, I haven’t seen anyting better in more specialiced books (which is sad because in my opinion the reason is more that many authers don’t know the realities of violence but write about it anyway and less that Rory is such a super-genius).

I would recommend both books as a combination to martial artists, only the second one for non-martial artists.

(Hint: have a look at the ratings of both books at amzon)

If somebody wants to go even further, Scaling Force: Dynamic Decision Making Under Threat of Violence by Lawrence Kane and Rory is a very, very good combination of general advice, which level of force should be used in which situations and very concrete tipps on targets, techniques and ways to apply these levels of force.

He has a couple more books/ebooks and all of them are pretty much spot on, but I guess these are the most important ones for this topic.

Oh, and he has an ebook with a collection of drills and training methods he likes to use:
Drills: Training For Sudden Violence
http://www.amazon.com/Drills-Training-Sudden-Violence-ebook/dp/B004RVZ6WA/ref=sr_1_sc_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1369821234&sr=1-1-spell&keywords=rory+miller+drlls

This shouldn’t stand alone. Read it only after you looked at the other two. In my opinion it’s more like an add-on.
It lacks all the *necessary* information about violence dynamics, as it is… Well, just about drills.

However, it has some mental excercises as well and for me his “Eating Frogs” drill was the best motivation and help to improve my resilience and the skill to make annoying decisions right now. It’s just a short article, it fits on one page of paper (I have it on my sleeping room door). By the way: the title is missleading, it doesn’t necessarily require you to eat frogs ;)

Another interesting source might be http://nononsenseselfdefense.com/. The site belongs to Marc MacYoung and has *lots* of interesting articles about many different aspects of violence, criminal behaviour and personal safety. However, it’s pretty complicated structured as well. You can find general topics at the header and then details on the left side (I didn’t even see the categories near the header at first).

For example, here are some hard truthes about rape (starting with the fact that most rapes aren’t the “typical” stranger rapes):
http://nononsenseselfdefense.com/rape.html
The aricle then links to many subarticles, for example a list of common character traits of rapists and stalkers:
http://nononsenseselfdefense.com/profile.html

These articles focus on the dynamics to give potential victims the chance to get out before it is to late. Obviously the attacker is at fault, not the victim. But if theses articles helps some almost-victims to get out? Sounds good to me.
As a police officer I spoke with several victims where I would have wished, really wished, that they had known about this stuff before :’(
Because they had no chance to regognize what was going on, just as you can’t expect somebody to break in front of you, if nobody ever explained to you the meaning of an stoplight switching from green to red.

These are dark topics, but in my opinion it is part of the sheepdog-mentality to get some knowledge about these things. I want to able to spot such dynamics in my social surroundings. I want to recognize if a friend may be in danger. I want to know what can be done about it. I want to be able to give *good* advise, I want to know how I can help and support people if bad things happened to them. And that means (and meant for me) to carry some heavy burdens at times, because you may hear stories you didn’t expect and where you can’t do some fantasy-hero stuff to make it right. Where you can only live with the knowlegde that life isn’t nice and “just”, where you can only listen because there is nothing to do about stuff or where a victium doesn’t want it and where you have to pay an emotional toll as well.

And heroically helping people or stepping up to bad people? It doesn’t feel that great if the other guy is out his mind, aggressive and way more brutal than in the fantasy version. And when the risk of injury suddenly gets real. Feel like losing some teeth? Being blinded? Getting inner trauma? Staying in the hospital? Emergency surgery? Being crippled? Dying? It’s a nice fantasy, but it doesn’t feel heroic in real life.

If you make the decision to “become” a sheepdog, don’t put your head into the sand at the same time. Most of the time, life is safe in the middle class western world. It’s okay not to deal with this stuff. Most of my non-police friends do that and I like them dearly. For many people, it may be even more healthy from a psychological point of view. Dark knowledge gives you daubts and uncertainy as well. I know I have them. And I know way older people who still have them. There is no guaranty to be able to deal with the stuff you may encounter. Everybody has his breaking point and something that would squash him. But if you don’t feel happy to ignore the risks and dangers which still exist? If you prefer to think of yourself as a “guardian”? Then actually invest the time and pay the prices for this plus of safety.

It’s not heroic. It’s not much more special than other jobs which require special skills. For many professions it’s just work. Don’t expect people to be oh-so-grateful. It just has to be done by somebody.

The one thing to avoid? Don’t become a sheep that does some martial art and feels “oh-so-great” because it’s awesome to be a sheepdog and brag about it. Please don’t.

9 Airborne Mike May 29, 2013 at 7:15 am

I am a student of LTC Grossman’s works and has a combat Vet and Law Enforcement Officer I agree with him especially on the physcology of killing. I firmly believe that one is either born a sheepdog or not. Many of a warriors attributes come from the heart training only refines and hones what has always been there, it takes a special breed to run toward gunfire or into a burning building, if the idea of owning a handgun intimidates you then don’t even apply just say baaa and enjoy your life as a sheep.

10 David Y May 29, 2013 at 7:17 am

Thanks Brett & Kate.

As you said, most of us are at some point on the sheep/sheepdog continuum. I am working to move more towards the sheepdog direction. I may not ever become a full-fledged sheepdog. But, I don’t want to be a helpless sheep when(not if) the need arises.

There are different skills needed for different types of sheepdogs. I will work on the ones best suited for me.

11 Anon May 29, 2013 at 7:49 am

Very interesting article series. I have questions/struggles with this concept as a Christian man. We are taught in the Bible (and other religions are taught this, as well) that we are to assume the best in everyone. That we are to love without abandon. Obviously we live in a fallen world where bad things will happen, but if we believe in God’s sovereignty, then we also at least partially believe that things are out of our control.

I don’t want to walk down the street assuming that people have bad intentions…or assuming that the guy I just passed is locked and loaded. Studies show that people who carry guns are more likely to believe that everyone else around them is also carrying, and therefore more likely to instinctively pull that gun out and use it reactively versus after thought and analyzation.

Jesus teaches me to be a sheep. To be meek, to be a person of peace, to not be fearful, and ultimately, to love and seek the best in every person I come across. These values don’t necessarily conflict with this sheep/sheepdog paradigm directly, but perhaps you can see my struggles.

Anyone have thoughts?

12 Matt May 29, 2013 at 7:54 am

It had never occurred to me that I’ve been doing visualization for years. I almost can’t help myself from running through hypothetical situations and envisioning how they would turn out, to the point that I sometimes have to remind myself that none of what I just rehearsed actually happened. Thank you for providing direction for using this ability.

13 Anthony May 29, 2013 at 8:19 am

I’ve really enjoyed—and been challenged by—these sheepdog articles. Something that might be worth exploring is how do sheepdogs relate to other sheepdogs? In some cases, you will be the dominant dog: the one with the most experience, training, etc. to handle this crisis, and any other dogs present should recognize this and submit. They don’t need to turn themselves into sheep, but they should let you lead and assist you. In other cases, you will have to recognize that another sheepdog is better equipped to lead that you are, and you’ll need to accept #2 status. Sheepdogs fighting each other over alpha status is no help to the sheep: I think a good sheepdog is humble enough to recognize his (or her) own limitations.

To Anon 7:49, Christians are indeed called to be meek and turn the other cheek. But we are also told to be wise as serpents, and at one point Jesus advised his disciples to go buy a sword if they didn’t have one. In addition, Paul’s instructions to the elders in Ephesus specifically told them to look out for wolves. I don’t think either attitude is supposed to be absolutely representative of a Christian, but it seems clear to me that Christians should be peaceable, but still vigilant and able to defend themselves when necessary: much like a real sheepdog.

14 Samuel May 29, 2013 at 8:45 am

Outstanding series. Keep up the good work!

15 Ian Connel May 29, 2013 at 9:07 am

Yeah Art of Manliness! Exciting and inspiring article.

A few years ago I started learning a few of these skills and wondered why guys would spend so much time playing videogames, pretending to be heroes, when they could just become them.

16 Ian Connel May 29, 2013 at 9:11 am

One more comment on the point of Empathy and “Fellow Feeling” – I am practicing a habit that helps with empathy. When I think negative thoughts about another person, I mentally respond, “No! That’s my brother/sister.” It helps to remember we all started out children who need love – and we still are.

17 Alexander May 29, 2013 at 9:32 am

Anon, you have been misled.

The Christianity you have been exposed to is tainted and framed with views originating in western social/political movements of the 60s and 70s. Early Christianity is very clearly a war-like belief system, whether it be spiritual war or physical war on earth for what is right, despite the consequences to your own physical person. Obviously, it would be hard to enter into a complete discourse on this subject here, but you should look into these other viewpoints if you are struggling with the foolish, sheep-version of Christianity that is so often peddled today.

Good luck and God Bless.

18 Anon May 29, 2013 at 9:38 am

Martial arts/combat sports is not a requirement for fighting. Fighting is a natural part of humanity. Get angry enough and you won’t care about whether or not you know “how to fight”.

Combat sports is just like it says. Sports. A sport has rules. I guess mainstream society is still on this MMA kick. I don’t pay much attention because there isn’t actual techniques being performed. Just swing a few times, jump down on the ground and put someone in a lock. That is all fine and dandy, until his buddies roll up on you having him in some type of joint lock and then preceding his stomp your face in. Avoid MMA.

Avoid anything that deals with kyusho in Karate. George Dillman is a phony. Sport karate with the pads and gloves teaches bad habits of actually avoiding how to hit someone and mean it.

19 Daniel May 29, 2013 at 10:28 am

I am really appreciating this series greatly and I am glad that you decided to go into so much more depth with it.

Every year I teach The Red Badge of Courage and am haunted by the fundamental question of whether or not I am actually a coward/sheep. Having never truly been tested by a serious, stressful experience, all that I have to go by are my everyday interactions. From these, I seem to be a sheepdog, but the stakes are always so low that I cannot really tell.

20 Toddg May 29, 2013 at 11:49 am

Wow…Great article

21 Matt May 29, 2013 at 12:02 pm

As a cop and avid reader of AOM, I must say that this series is one of the best I have ever read on the topic. Keep up the great work and thank you for your continued efforts to build up this country of men. I will continue recommending you guys to every I can.

22 zach even - esh May 29, 2013 at 12:37 pm

I REALLY enjoyed this series, you guys are awesome for the time you put into it.

I hope people read this and decide to stop following, stop cowering and start rising above!!

MUCH respect, good work, Gents!!

23 Rob May 29, 2013 at 1:12 pm

An update of the older Hero Training regimen would be great. I’ve been doing them off and on for the last 3 years and would love it if you all got a better version out there. Thanks!

24 ChrisB May 29, 2013 at 1:18 pm

@Anon 9:38am – I’ve been looking into martial arts and think I’m going to start Krav Maga. The traditional forms seem to be more art than martial. Krav is street fighting with belts.

25 Operafaust May 29, 2013 at 1:31 pm

I like this article, but not for personal reasons.

Idealizing the sheepdog is for sheep, ironically. Both sheep and sheepdog derive their value only from their usefulness to the shepherd, who is the only one who has real control and autonomy. A sheepdog that is too old or sick to protect the sheep any more is put down or replaced because it no longer has value.

You might be the best sheepdog in town, but you’re still a dog, and you eat when the master allows it. If I were (hypothetically speaking) doing social engineering or psy-ops on behalf of the 1% or one of their think tanks, this is exactly the sort of article I would promote in order to insure that the more assertive elements within the general population have their energies harnessed and put to good use- have them buy into the myth of faithful stewardship as its own reward.

26 Joshua Tilley May 29, 2013 at 2:26 pm

I was going grocery shopping one day when I heard a woman scream. A man had stolen her purse and forced himself out of the building. The only real man who was giving chase was a partly crippled bagger from the store and he was losing the race. I immediately ran back to my vehicle and stormed off after him. I had to pop a curb to get in front of the thief and when I did he turned on me, forcing me to pull my firearm. I commanded him to lie on the ground while a bystander called 911. The police showed up, I was questioned, and the guys was arrested…but that is not the point.
I didn’t tell anyone, but my wife was very proud of me and told a few of her friends. The backlash that ensued from “friends” and family was unexpected to say the least. First, I am a pastor and my position was called into question by some, because “Jesus wouldn’t carry a gun.” Later, several of our old classmates from high school (I’m 33) went so far as to tell MY WIFE (not me) on her facebook page that I was irresponsible and that a woman’s purse was not worth pulling a gun and possibly killing this thief.
I didn’t do it for a pat on the back, but I never expected anger and ridicule. The world we live in is not just filled with sheep, it seems it is run by them.

27 doc May 29, 2013 at 2:57 pm

In the vane of this post you may want to look past the idea of martial arts training and look at some of the philosophy and teachings of Tim Larkin at Target Focus Training. Martial Arts training is taught by rules, violence has no rules.

28 Airborne Mike May 29, 2013 at 3:34 pm

Being a religious person does not preclude one from being a sheepdog, aren’t pastors supposed to protect their “flock” . Was not Joshua a Warrior, I repeated Johsua 1:9 every time before I went on a patrol. led an Airborne Operation or any hazardous duty. You cannot learn to be a sheepdog by reading a text or taking a martial arts class, if joining the military (where the Sheepdog in a person is fed, trained and honed)is not your thing then i would suggest joining a Volunteer Fire Dept, if you have what it takes to rush into a burning structure to save others then you have what it takes to stand and deliver when the wolves are at the door. And Operafaust i disagree ” A sheepdog that is too old or sick to protect the sheep any more is put down or replaced because it no longer has value. ” NO when a sheep dog is old or sick we close ranks around him/her and defend them until they are called home, then we Remember and Honor their sacrifices every day especially on occasions such as Veterans Day and Memorial Day.

29 Airborne Mike May 29, 2013 at 3:45 pm

Anon Where are the studies you mention? “Studies show that people who carry guns are more likely to believe that everyone else around them is also carrying, and therefore more likely to instinctively pull that gun out ” Crime Stats do prove that there is less in the areas that allow CCW compare Richmond , VA or Dallas TX to Chicago or NYC… nuff said

30 Tim Schwartz May 29, 2013 at 4:24 pm

Great article Brett and Kate – really looking forward to the new subject/articles you are working on for this year!

31 Anon May 29, 2013 at 4:34 pm

@Airborne Mike —

A link to the study I mentioned. I couldn’t find the actual paper, I think that’s a paid item, but this article (and others) give the gist of it. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120321152627.htm

Here’s another article with more in-depth opinion about possible implications: http://www.minnpost.com/second-opinion/2012/03/someone-holding-gun-more-likely-think-others-are-armed-new-study-says-yes

The broad research is about perception…our perception of the world is based very much on our own experiences and circumstances. Something to think about. I don’t mean for this conversation to turn into one about gun control — was just giving an example of why I have struggles with this sheep/sheepdog/wolf paradigm. I’m not saying it doesn’t ring true, just that I have thinking to do in terms of how it relates to my religious views.

32 Lior Kostyuk May 29, 2013 at 6:37 pm

This is truly an inspiring series, can’t wait for part IV!

33 Top May 29, 2013 at 6:40 pm

Grossman is great author, but I feel like these posts are selectively pulling material from his books without truly delving into what he wrote about. The books aren’t about becoming a sheepdog as much as they are about the psychological and physiological prices paid for being such and taking action. Perhaps you could expand and write about the darker side of these actions as a part of the series in the future.

34 David D Nystrom May 29, 2013 at 7:38 pm

Being a fan of Lt Col Grossman’s Bulletproof Mind video seminar, I was thrilled when I first starting reading this series on “Sheepdogs”. Knowing it to be a more complex subject than Wolves are bad guys – Sheepdogs are good guys, I was concerned the topic might be treated too lightly. But with the three articles so far and those now planned for the future, I couldn’t be more pleased with AoM.

I think for many of us, 2013 will be the Year Of The Sheepdog, at least in terms of greater awareness and education. Thank-You!

35 Quin May 29, 2013 at 8:09 pm

I hate to say this but being a cop, soldier or fireman does not inherently make you a sheepdog. You do sheepdog like things because you are paid and ordered to. I know a few cops and they are very much order followers who don’t rock the boat. Others know they can get involved without worrying, like the rest of us, that they will be arrested. Now there are a heck of a lot of sheepdogs in uniform but the uniform doesn’t make you a sheepdog

36 T May 29, 2013 at 8:16 pm

EXCELLENT articles! Very well written!

37 Jacob May 29, 2013 at 9:47 pm

@ Quin

Very true sir. “The uniform doesn’t make you a sheepdog.” Experienced the “normalcy” and “herd” response in a theater performance when the fire alarms activated. NOBODY moved. I pointed out the nearest emergency exit to my date, promptly left my seat, and went to locate the fire alarm control panel to determine where the alarm was originating from. After meeting with the security guards and confirming that it was a false alarm I went back to the theater, and found the audience still in their seats, and the actors still performing! The alarms were still blaring/strobing. Sheople.

38 Vaughan May 29, 2013 at 10:22 pm

I am familiar with a lot of what you discussed thanks to some heavy duty combatives training, but your article included info new to me. I found your writing engaging, and enjoyed the whole piece very much. Thanks!

39 Aaron May 29, 2013 at 10:38 pm

Wow, so much reading and lots of links to follow up on! As a Marine now living the civilian life, I can still find useful stuff in these articles that I can improve upon. Great work!

40 Woody May 29, 2013 at 11:57 pm

This is a well written article, and Grossman’s reference to sheep/sheepdog is just a minor point in his book “On Killing”. It was also referenced and used in Mark Divine’s book “Unbeatable Mind”. Which i will add has many striking similarities to the talking points of this article

Check it out

41 Jenny May 30, 2013 at 6:48 am

This is fascinating. The idea of living your life prepared for a crisis reminds me in a strange way of the Zen idea of living as a preparation for dying. It’s not that you hope the crisis (or death) will come, but that if and when it does, you can meet it cheerfully and in that sense overcome it.

42 Andrew May 30, 2013 at 7:14 am

Inspiring. This article is another that earns this website its name.

It would be great to read more about real instances of sheep dogs taking action in a crisis, particularly in an ethical crisis like the ones many whistleblowers have had to face.

43 Airborne Mike May 30, 2013 at 7:57 am

Josh, Your wife’s friends should ask the armchair quarterbacks what if it was their purse or their mother’s purse with her prescription med’s in it, her Social Security check? Should she go without her life saving meds and income for the month and suffer so some jackwagon can buy another crack rock … or should someone step in… the criminal made his/her choice they knew or should have known full well that their decision could cost someone their life, either their own life or the victims. If they had died in the commission of the crime so be it they got exactly what they deserved and what they wanted. I know this is a callus view but it is reality no one is forced to be a criminal it is a path they make a conscious decision to follow. It is likely that by stopping him you saved his next victim’s life or his own if he choose to learn from this and turn his life around.

44 Ara Bedrossian May 30, 2013 at 11:53 am

Being a sheepdog is challenging, as was written. An emotional detachment while remaining empathetic. Could being a sheepdog be called pathological? Extensive breakdown of the topic. I would encourage looking more into how to become empathetic. It begins with asking why you want to become a sheepdog. Actions may determine us, but our motivations are just as much who we are.

45 Ara Bedrossian May 30, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Oh, and to Joshua Tilley. Maybe you were called out by those others because you didn’t retrieve their personal items. We may not appreciate action unless we directly benefit. Don’t rock the boat phenomenon. Perhaps part of Normalcy Bias?

46 James May 30, 2013 at 2:09 pm

So here is my situation:
I am a consultant who travels Monday through Thursday my wife is a teacher and she stays at home. Our neighbors we know that they are into drugs and that they are at some points violent and parentheses we have heard a gunshot before. The other night the neighbors which is just a group of guys got into a big fight,argument with cussing and threats and yelling and it scared my wife to the point where we’ve got her a hotel room for the past two nights. I would love to call the police on them but I am worried about any type of retribution especially to my wife whenever I am not at home. I would love to be a sheepdog in this situation. Am I sheepdog in protecting my wife or am I sheep in that I did not call the police?

47 Chuck May 30, 2013 at 3:43 pm

Kudos to you for making the link between love and becoming a sheepdog! One of the most compelling themes in the book “War” by Sebastian Junger is that bravery CANNOT EXIST without love. Many ‘armchair badasses’ miss this point.

DTV

48 Mark May 30, 2013 at 5:03 pm

Anon (7:49am), interesting question. Regarding your point about what we should assume about people, the Bible taught that people are basically wicked. The heart is full of wickedness and folly. Even the best person’s righteousness is filthy rags. It’s not safe to assume the best in everyone. So I think our default is that all people are sinners, but we hope that they will be redeemed. Yes, we are called to love and help everybody. But it is not wise to be oblivious to potential threats.

I don’t think Jesus teaches us to be sheep. Well, I think we are to relate to Him as a sheep. But Jesus seemed to teach us to be more of a sheepdog towards others. Jesus took *action* to heal the sick, pray for others, stand up for the oppressed, help the needy. Jesus’ teachings contain more active verbs than passive verbs. In Biblical context, even the verb “love” is more action that passive oriented. But he did it while being meek, peaceful (usually), not fearful, and with love. I suppose we could look to Jesus Christ as the ultimate sheepdog.

49 wdw May 30, 2013 at 7:02 pm

Great series… Holds fast to the AoM creed.

I may be echoing another reader and, if so, my apologies but I wished to note the taxonomic relationship between wolves and sheepdogs: They both fall into the Canis genus. (This begs a digression: If wolves are the elder species, in comparison to domesticated dogs, does this mean darker intentions are more innate or natural? It’s sophistry, perhaps, but I cannot help but poke the thought.) Moving on to my real point, this reference to mutual lineage not only extends the allegory but also explains some argued similarities between to two. “Sheepdogs, unlike sheep, have a propensity for violence – they just channel that capacity towards honorable ends.” And wolves can have a capacity for violence to dishonorable ends.

Ultimately, one’s actions reveals one’s heart. Furthermore, and in this case, one’s actions reveals if s/he is sheep, sheepdog or even wolf.

Many thanks for this piece and the AoM site as a whole.

50 Woody May 30, 2013 at 7:43 pm

@ James

You r situation is not unique. Neither you or your wife are being should concerned on what side of the spectrum your are on. I in the public safety sector and see this all the time in the rough city i work for. Wanting to protect your wife is natural, but ask yourself if moving her to a hotel room is the safest, or most practical end to your problem. It sounds like a perfect solution for the moment.

The sheepdog question is do you want this to be your living environment forever. I’m going to go with a no answer on this one. I have seen the end result of a solo sheepdog moving to quell a disruptive and violent pack before, FYI, it doesn’t end well for the solo dog.

Knowing what I know, you should contact the local PD when this disruptive behavior is occuring, and let them handle it. If you have never confronted these people before how will they know who called it in.

Helping in an emergency, or standing up for the less able at the moment of crisis is one thing, but placing yourself into a very volatile situation is another. That is why we employ people with authority. I’m saying to not step and protect someone when the situation arises, but be practical and tactical when it comes to your situation.

Sheepdogs are not limited to being the male of the species. I personally know many female sheepdogs, and they are very capable at the job. To paraphrase Kipling, “The female is more deadly than the male.”

51 DBeans May 30, 2013 at 11:36 pm

its weird timing that you write this. i just watched this movie compliance on netflix, about the story where a guy called a fast food restaurant impersonating a cop and talked the manager into basically raping a female employee. its pretty insane what people will do to obey what they perceive as authority. people need to realize you are responsible for your actions it doesnt matter who told you or what you were told to do. you always have a choice

52 Kammes May 31, 2013 at 3:01 pm

A call to heightened awareness – of self and one’s surroundings – and encouragement to be an active participant in one’s own life, to stand and fight for something of value, is great to read and see what others around the world think about it, too.. I enjoyed hearing about intuition and its potential benefit to sheep dog actions. I’ve thought of feelings as a tool we are given to focus on a direction (sometimes not always clear at first where) to invest our slow thinking but aggressive investigation, especially when we have the luxury of time for it. Never ignore a gut feeling – the effort in doing so can leave you blind to other signals. Better to think of it as an alarm, possibly false (like Jacob’s story) but listened to and checked on properly.

I think what is missing from this list of how to be more like a sheep dog is an emphasis on getting in roles where you are made to lead, teach, and manipulate people to doing something you want (honorably). Doing so might get you more comfortable with standing in front of a group and giving orders.

53 Vaughan June 1, 2013 at 12:39 am

Some interesting comments in this thread. A few I would like to respond to:

“I know this is a callus view but it is reality no one is forced to be a criminal it is a path they make a conscious decision to follow.”

This is just plain wrong. Some people live lives of destitution and abuse from the earliest of ages. That they progress to committing crime themselves is not surprising. What is surprising is that they do not always do so to the same degree as the torment that was visited upon themselves. None of this means you should surrender your own well being to such people. But just be aware, they are people. Whatever their actions in the moment.

“I would love to call the police on them but I am worried about any type of retribution especially to my wife whenever I am not at home. I would love to be a sheepdog in this situation. Am I sheepdog in protecting my wife or am I sheep in that I did not call the police?”

A sensible question. Whenever you pick up one end of the stick, you also automatically pick up the other, as UK combatives author Geoff Thompson (popularized The Fence) says. What this means is that there can be a whole host of consequences that result from getting involved in a confrontational situation. Tactical thought is required. Whether you are thinking about calling the cops on jerk neighbors, or chasing down a purse snatcher. Are you prepared for the other end of the stick? Indeed, is it worth it? The most capable fighters I know, people who have exacted some severely bloody violence on others in self defense situations, carry dummy wallets as a safe out against muggings. They don’t live in a fantasy land where they will best the villain and prove themselves the hero. They know picking up one end of the stick can result in profound and far reaching consequences from the other. It’s great to be morally in the right, but such is no armor against a knife to the guts. Literally or figuratively.

54 Vaughan June 1, 2013 at 1:11 am

“A link to the study I mentioned. I couldn’t find the actual paper, I think that’s a paid item, but this article (and others) give the gist of it.”

I looked at both articles and was troubled by the complete absence of actual numbers. A “significant bias” translates to what exactly? Call me a suspicious bastard if you like, but when people start bandying around terms like that without supplying the actual data? Too, holding a play gun or a ball? I think for a test to hold any meaning, you have to replicate as much as possible the circumstances under which it occurs. That one of the pages you linked to ludicrously cherry picked two sensationalistic incidences to support its case also didn’t help. A basic awareness of LEO reports would be all that was required to understand that due to the effects of adrenaline on perception, many times those with a gun don’t identify a weapon in the hands of someone else. Somehow though, I don’t think that there was much adrenaline present when people were holding a play gun or a ball while looking at pictures.

55 Thiago Frizoni June 1, 2013 at 6:22 am

Guys, i just want to thank you for this article. I have been a fellow reader and a costumer (got both books for kindle) since 2009. But, nothing has touched me more than this life lesson about how to be a sheepdog.I could say its a breaking point in my life. I came from Brazil to live in Russia and always aimed to be great, but always had the feeling that something is missing in myself. This text shows me what i want to be: A leader. If i die tomorrow with my baldness and my 25 years old, will i be remembered as someone who did something, who inspired at least a few people?
Long story short: Just keep doing this amazon work on inspiring people even when they far, very far away.

So, once more: Thank you!

56 Liam Trott June 1, 2013 at 9:03 am

Thank you Brett and Kate for a fantastic article and really look forward to the follow ups. I have one question.

Where did you get the photo that is below the Martial Arts section? I am really interested in this photo.

57 Rohit Ramachandran June 1, 2013 at 10:34 am

Your blog is f***ing incredible. I seem to say that after every post I read here.

58 MorganGray June 1, 2013 at 7:08 pm

The problem is, we as men, fathers, older brothers, spiritual fathers, whatever are up against a seriously stacked deck.
We try to teach our sons and brothers (and our daughters and sisters) to be sheepdogs, but we’ve got them for what? 4, maybe 6 hours a day, tops? That’s *if* we can pry them away from the telly.
The government run system has them for 6 to ten hours a day, plus 2 – 3 hours of homework.
Our work is cut out for us, guys. It’s an up hill fight. And if we’re going to be sheepdogs ourselves, we have to train up our pups to follow in our footsteps.
It’s a tough battle, but our children and their children are well worth fighting for.

59 George F Matheis Jr June 2, 2013 at 3:27 pm

I have been a Sheepdog my whole life and met Col Grossman two years ago for the first time. I have been an Army MP, police officer, a DOD Combat Skills Instructor and bouncer. Now I run my own training company providing personal preparedness and protection training. My simple advice in this is, before you worry about carrying or using any weapons, learn open hand combatives, not cultural martial arts. Define your environments and the scenarios most likely to occur in them using force on force scenarios and drills. Don’t make the mistake of believing that owning or carrying something as a talisman can protect you. Stay Safe- George

60 David M Zuniga June 3, 2013 at 11:42 pm

I commend you on this excellent series. Might I suggest that among your future installments, you expand the application to *real-life* scenarios?

By this, I mean the moral, ethical, legal, and economic torts, crimes, and predations visited on most Americans by increasingly sociopathic cohorts in ‘government’ including unaccountable, self-selecting bureaucracies.

I will limit my comment to the American scene; my full-time mission for the past six years has been to rouse, inform, educate, equip, and organize Americans to return to their duties, within the constitutional framework of our republic.

If we fail to do this — to rouse and organize at least a sturdy remnant — , our rule of law (by which I mean most aspects of the civilization we have known as American) is doomed.

This is what I mean by “real life scenarios”. The daily operations of government from the school board to federal levels, have become demonstrably, increasingly lawless.

Essentially a self-governing and independent lot in the early generations, Americans are now freighted and harassed by a growing cohort of bossy bullies on the public payroll.

With respect to your analogy, those who regularly violate the highest law in America with utter impunity, and press their illicit “laws” on the sheep are, of course, wolves. The analogy breaks down (or reveals our true condition) when one realizes that those wolves take oaths to be sheepdogs.

Christ had especially choice words for such people; today’s pulpiteers only comply.

You have thus far, I believe, inordinately focused on the “action figure” Hollywood aspects of sheepdog existence — courage and righteousness. The duties that we face today are overwhelmingly issues of political economy, ethics, and constitutional law.

Duties, not ‘rights’. Self-government and sovereign superintendence — not electoral politics and cheerleading from the bench.

Let me illustrate the false and dangerously misleading ‘Rambo-NRA’ mindset inherent in the series thus far, in a practical issue.

Defending our homes, communities, and republic against enemies foreign and domestic was originally understood by all American men as a fact of life. “Applied popular sovereignty” including use of arms, responding to emergencies, etc — was the role of the Citizen Militias. Every able-bodied male from 16 and up, essentially.

Read Article I, Section 8, Clause 15 of the US Constitution. It stipulates the three functions of all American men, armed and trained in their local militias: 1) execute the laws of the Union; 2) suppress insurrections; and 3) repel invasions.

No full-time, paid military is authorized in the Constitution, except for a navy. The founders particularly despised standing armies — but now, they pride themselves on being ‘our warriors in harm’s way’, providing free mercenary duty for the petrochemical industry and others, plundering overseas.

I don’t incriminate the enlisted man here; they are oblivious to history and the Constitution. My point is that if the average American man honored Article I, Section 8, Clause 15 — then he would force his State legislature to obey Clause 16 — and this would be a different republic, and ours would be a different world.

The Citizen Militia is still the duty of every able-bodied American, and its three functions are still the supreme Law of the Land. But millions of pumped-up gun nuts are comparing their cool AR-15s and web gear, and talking tough (without training tough). Invariably, they cite the 2nd Amendment right, and NEVER their Article I, Section 8 *duty*.

Those with a propensity for domination, cruelty, or sloth are drawn to “public service” today, and the domestic enemies of our Constitution multiply like maggots on dead flesh.

Meanwhile, the portion of the population with sheepdog tendencies are ranting about Second Amendment rights, a growing police state, and a Congress that operates in the manner of organized crime.

Whatever our personal character traits, or our physical prowess, the need of the hour is godly and tactical *wisdom*. We are not dogs against wolves; we are sovereign citizens against predators and parasites.

In the fight for the very existence of this Republic and civilization, the next few generations are not facing knife-fights or gun battles. We face something far less glamorous; far less the stuff of Hollywood: the difficult, protracted duty of popular sovereignty having almost nothing to do with electoral politics, and everything to do with courage, manliness, and asserting rule of law against arrogant miscreants.

The wild-eyed sheep will tend to push one another off the cliff of self-fulfilling prophecies. In any case, America faces dire times ahead, so your probing these real-life threats would be a valuable addition to this series.

On our blog, I have written several monographs addressing manliness, the sheep-v-sheepdog paradigm, and the duties of all Americans to serve militia duty:

http://www.americaagainnow.com/_2012_07_sheepdog_choice_theory_html

http://www.americaagainnow.com/american_geldings

http://www.americaagainnow.com/support_our_troops

http://www.americaagainnow.com/better_than_an_ar15

Thank you for allowing me this long comment; I look forward to your future installments. Keep up your good work.

61 Anthony Rose June 4, 2013 at 2:03 am

I have always lived the life of the sheepdog. It wasn’t until I read LTC Grossman’s work that i truly understood my role in life. After almost 20 years of serive in the Army: 4 combat and 2 operational tours, it is good to see his ideals spread and i look forward to teaching them to the next generation of sheepdogs.

62 Brian Burress June 6, 2013 at 11:17 am

For being a whistleblower, I recently had the opportunity to meet Weston Smith in person. He presented to my MBA class about accounting fraud, and how he overcame fear to go to the authorities and blow the whistle on the fraud happening at HealthSouth. An interview or article including him would be a nice addition to this series on being a sheepdog.

63 Andrew June 6, 2013 at 11:45 am

The mentions of both visualization and developing empathy reminded me of the Buddhist practice called Metta. It basically is the practice of universal compassion, and it is done both during meditation and as an element of daily life.

During Metta practice in meditation, you first calm your mind and bring yourself deeply into the moment. Then, starting with yourself and moving out along your social circle, starting with the people closest to you and out to your enemies (if you have any), you visualize that person in great detail and wish them happiness, generating feelings of good will and projecting it onto the image of that person.

Then, of course, when you finish meditating you get up and be kind to people in your daily life.Metta is meant to help you see people how they really are, not through the illusory lens we often see other people through.

I think we can be kind without really being compassionate; kindness can be a way of ‘greasing the wheels’ and getting through the day with the least amount of conflict. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but having compassion for other people can bring you great happiness and peace, making Metta a very powerful practice.

64 Travis June 7, 2013 at 2:53 pm

I just wanted to say thank you for taking the time to write about this. I am a combat veteran and have served for 13 years now and counting as a uniformed service member. After over a decade of living in this mindset, I have realized that always standing up for what is right in the world is stressful and discouraging at times. But if you don’t stand up for what you believe in, then do you really have anything at all? You can’t take stupid shit with you to the grave…but you can look back on your life and say I did the right thing and was someone people looked up to and die knowing that there was nothing else you could do to make your life and the lives of the people around you better.

65 Sion June 9, 2013 at 3:07 am

Dear Brett (and Kay),

Not sure if you see this, but I just wanted to say how glad I am with this weblog with so many great articles. Practically all of them go to my To Read folder, and even if it takes a while, they are being read in time. Partly through these series I’m in inspired to move myself forward to become what is called a ‘sheepdog’.

Greetings from a Dutch B.’. who is trying not to waste his twenties.

66 Peter June 10, 2013 at 3:07 pm

At the risk of sounding redundant, I’d like to echo Sion’s thoughtful comment.

This blog is just fantastic. I think it represents the best of what “blogging” can be. This sheepdog series of articles in particular has had a strong effect on me. Thank you so much for your great work.

67 Rick Shelton June 11, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Excellent post.

68 Mary Dylan June 14, 2013 at 3:08 am

I am a schoolteacher, “being a team player”  is a
sometimes thrown in your face as the ultimate goal as a faculty member, especially with women. Those women who think for themselves can be ostracized by other women.   A few years ago, I was in a theater, the fire alarm went off and the audience didn’t know what to do. I was the first person out of the building because I assumed the alarm wasn’t a drill. (It was a small problem and we returned to the building.) I have often thought of that night in the theater as practice for the many times in my job where I just had to take the lead and show people to not just sit there, to make a move. I’ll be a sheepdog for my students but I’m more of a bellwether for the adults. I don’t mind walking alone but it does set you apart, even as an elementary schoolteacher. You are supposed to be a sheep. 

69 Joe June 27, 2013 at 12:09 pm

Just read this last week (ya, I’m a little behind) and got a Gander Mountain Academy newsletter that had an ad about LTC Grossman’s training.

http://sheepdogseminars.com/dates-and-locations/

*no endorcement implied, not affiliated with either organization, just FYI for anyone interested…

70 Chuck Unger July 25, 2013 at 5:03 pm

Awesome references to LTC Grossman’s book On Killing. I participated in Army ROTC as an undergraduate many moons ago. Between our jr and sr year we had to participate in an “advanced camp” at Fort Lewis, WA to have a cadre of Army officers and NCOs evaluate our leadership potential in comparison to our peers. LTC Grossman was one of our cadre. I recall going into a final week of field exercises and in our assembly area LTC Grossman getting everyone fired up by reciting, in full Shakespearian prose, the Crispin’s day speech from Henry V: “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers, for he who sheds his blood with me will be my brother……”. It sounds kind of silly now to retell it but he as so engaging and personable, but also a true warrior. We all would have walked through fire for that guy.

71 Christopher Neve August 1, 2013 at 11:31 am

@Anon : I’m a Christian too, and I wonder the same thing.
We definitely can learn from these articles to not flee from danger, stand out from the crowd. However, should we learn to fight and so on? I’m not sure. I believe applying the Bible to the letter would have miraculous reactions. Countless testimonies have shown it. Lord help us see, and understand.

72 sherri August 12, 2013 at 6:36 pm

This article has so much meaning for me. I am very grateful to the both of you for sharing it. I’ve been the target of wolves my entire life because I’ve always intervened on the behalf of anyone who is being mistreated or spoken out against wrongdoings. The last three years I have been the target of retaliation by the government and a major university for trying to expose corruption and fraud in government contracting. These two major forces of power have teamed up to silence me, to the extent of setting me up for “foreign espionage” and “investigating” me for it. This is the worst crime anyone can be charged with and leaves at the disposal of the intelligence communities all of the advanced technology used by this government to protect us against foreign and domestic terrorism. I’m a simple person who works very hard and rarely takes any enjoyment in life as I am always working for the government and the citizens/warfighters of this country. I am a government contract specialist and have been forced out of several high paying positions due to use of black propoganda and psychological warfare similar to that used in the COINTELPRO era. If there is anyone out there in cyperspace who is an attorney or a member of the press (I was a journalist in the U.S. Navy for 12.5 years and can’t get my story told) who is a sheepdog and is willing to help me expose the horrors I have stood up against and maintained some portion of sanity, PLEASE contact me. I’m trying not to fall after standing so long against evil, but it’s getting more taxing each day. Thank you again for putting the world in perspective — certainly as it’s appeared to me for most of my 50 years. Keep good — my fellow sheepdogs. Regards, Sherri Marquis

73 Lowell Schaper August 16, 2013 at 4:32 pm

Hello, I am pretty new to this site and I totally enjoy it. Being on the topic of being a sheepdog and being protective of society and our families in particular, I think that selecting, training, and learning to read a dog as a family pet in order to provide a first defense to the family is kind of a lost art. Dog breeds that were developed to protect livestock and be family companions are looked down on today by society as aggressive blood thirsty beasts. This is due largely to their upbringing by people who are the real wolves and train the animal to attack people. I would like to see a post on the manliness of training your dog to contribute to society as well.

74 Michael Nelson August 18, 2013 at 12:48 pm

To all christians dealing with doubts about being a sheepdog consider David. The first detailed encounter with David is when he faced Goliath. Saul and the rest of the Israelite army were paralysed with fear. But David asks “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God”. He then picked up 5 stones and ran towards Goliath and let fly with his sling.
Two things; I realise some people may gag on all the religious overtones in the question, but what a brilliant empowering question to ask when you are faced with someone breaking the law or squaring up to you trying to intimidate you. Secondly; he ran towards the trouble, but all his training and his wise choice of weapon (a slingshot and 5 stones against a spear and sword) helped him prevail. And God said he was a man after His own heart.

75 Pedro Britto August 27, 2013 at 6:56 pm

One of the best articles I’ve read in my life. I’ve read pt. 1 and 2 some time ago, and I can say that they changed my life and the way I see the world around me. And now finishing pt. 3, I have a quite clear path to follow. I think that everyman should be like this. If not a sheepdog to protect the flock, at least be able to defend himself and keep calm under critical scenarios.
As a man in my early 20′s, that was never taught in anything about manliness, I say: Brett (and kate, of course), thanks a lot for this post. Thanks for this website. Even for the posts I haven’t read yet, because I know they are good. Know that you are doing a great service for modern society and also changing my life for better. God bless you and your family!

76 Ali September 9, 2013 at 2:44 pm

Interesting 3 articles. I was familiar with the sheepdog concept which was shared by my tactical weapons instructor–former Marine and pilot trainer. I was dismayed that in all that I read, you refer only to males/men when it comes to sheepdogism. Why not women? They are fully in the military and, even those of us who are not, are taking on the responsibility of a sheepdog. I train with weights and walking/stair-climbing, with guns and knives, in close quarters and in the field. I have learned to be vigilant, and although I have yet to be really tested, am confident I would take charge if needed. My husband is a good role model–he calls it his New York mindset–always on guard, particularly in unknown or foreign (literally) places. A good example where we both reacted to save ourselves and others was in New Orleans. We were standing by the waterfront when a large tourist boat approached the dock–but did not seem to be slowing down appropriately to stop on time. I noticed it and my husband immediately said, Let’s get out of here.” As we moved quickly away, we told others to move away as well. Some looked at the boat, continuing to speed toward the dock–and just watched. Others followed us up away from the area. The boat smashed the dock and crashed into the shopping mall next to it. We later heard that many people were injured. Women ARE part of the sheepdog population. Please don’t address only men with this idea. My tactical weapons instructor was clear–in a class of 20 people–men and women, he expected all of us to get on the sheepdog development trail. Not everyone will get there, but we cannot afford to ignore half of the population or to relegate them to sheephood. Thanks for your most enlightening work.

77 WendyBird December 3, 2013 at 1:06 pm

http://www.untamedtresses.com/redirect-to/?redirect=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.vgtv.no%2Fembed%2F%3Fid%3D65490

Not all sheep are sheep, so if you are one don’t despair or live in denial just try to be a primitive sheep that can care for itself if need be rather than a mindless Merino.

78 Sigmund February 9, 2014 at 4:51 pm

As some one well versed in dangerous situations and in the yellow to the extent of being considered paranoid I can say few things about the series, which I read because I think you can always be better.

First it is well written, but sadly only third part and psychological part of the second are good. Third part is good starting place for improvement and gives some good advice which I fully support.

But whole sheep/dog/wolf thing is utter nonsense and bad and broken example. It lacks forth part of the matrix (morally bad and weak, which is in my opinion majority of human race) but even than it’s incomplete and flawed. Sheep dog/wolf axis is left out and is crucial. What about people with straight and moral compass that simply logically decide that even with all the guilt, their life will be better if they rob some guy’s house. And more stark example can you be a sheepdog if you must choose between morally right thing and lives of your children?

What are death squads and terrorists and dictator’s armies, they can’t be wolves, wolves are violent egoistic sociopaths, are they misguided sheepdogs who do what they believe is for the good of the people(especially with complex matters with no right answer)? Are soldiers who blindly follow orders (most do and that led to some horrible things) sheepdogs or violent sheep?

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