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Threat Levels

Updated: Feb 28, 2022

I recently heard a former Navy Seal describe the way he constantly evaluates his circumstances when in public. He does so by applying a color code to assess threat levels - Green, Yellow, and Red. The discussion was about how to stay alert and be prepared for any situation that might arise. Green is the standard baseline in which no current threat is looming, and it does not appear that there are instances of concern present. Yellow implies that something seems wrong, or someone looks suspicious, but nothing has happened to create an imminent threat. Red means something has happened, and action must be taken to prevent a serious issue from becoming worse.

Certainly, we can understand why an individual with this level of expertise would view situations in this manner. For the record, I think this is brilliant and allows everyone to be aware of their surroundings. Though, for purposes of discussion I simply wanted to apply this coding system to the way in which we live our daily lives.

My charge would be that we all regularly stop and look in the mirror to understand the status of our personal affairs. People are often so afraid to face reality that they neglect to reflect. Ever spent too much money at the bar and been nervous to look at your bank account? Ever go a few weeks or months without exercising so you are too afraid to jump on the scale? Ever take too long to apologize for wronging a friend that you feel it is too late? The application for these scenarios is endless. But, by applying the color codes of the threat levels, you will be able to monitor these statuses much more regularly and intervene on yellow before it ever hits red. Our society pulls us in several directions every minute of every day. From working while listening to a podcast, to checking Instagram on commercial breaks, our world demands our attention – and most of the time we are happy to oblige. The constant application of our attention elsewhere often limits our ability to be introspective. Newton’s first law of motion states that an object will not change its motion unless a force acts on it. Proactively addressing our shortcomings can prevent worst-case scenarios from arising, this is how we avoid falling victim to the endless cycles of society’s hustle. Like the old saying goes, it is easier to stay in shape than it is to get back into shape (apply that to any area of life). I hope that you consider a status quo threat level analysis for all aspects of your life. Wanting to be the best version of yourself is not selfish. It is presenting yourself in a manner that respects the time and energy of those around you, and that is about the most selfless thing you can do.

--Patrick Elzinga


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