My job is helping my students discover what’s important. Sometimes that takes guts.
Techniques, gear, and even concepts can be cool and exciting — but that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily important to your self defense. My job, the way I earn my living, is to figure out what’s really important for my students and readers and then how to explain it to them. How and why do I do that?
Some people miss the point
One of the more interesting comments I hear (and I’m not the only one who gets these) comes in the form of a challenge: “why do you even care what I do or carry? Who gave you the right to criticize me?” I find that attitude fascinating, as it comes from people who have presumably volunteered to read one of my books or click on a link to read one of my articles. You’d think someone who consciously seeks out a particular point of view would actually be interested in what they found, but many times that isn’t the case — particularly when I happen to disagree with their preconceptions!
Whether I’m teaching, writing, talking on a podcast or appearing in a video my job is all about researching a topic, evaluating the value of the information, distilling what I’ve found down to the essentials, and finally communicating that information in a logical and understandable way to the people who can (hopefully) make use of it. This is a constant process; as I learn, the material that I relay to my audience changes. That is as it should be in a changing world, because what we have today is different than what we had yesterday — and so are we. Part of my job is to keep up with those changes and tell people about them.
This pursuit of the best, most reliable and authoritative information is not without risk. Many times I’ve had to modify my beliefs because I learned something that contradicted what I knew before, and the new knowledge is better supported by objective fact. I take on that risk because I’m passionate about the subject and want what’s best for my students. Not everyone, of course, sees it this way, especially if they’re averse to change (or regard any suggestion of change as a personal criticism.)
What’s your real goal?
Becoming angry, defensive or dismissive because someone happens to disagree with a choice you’ve made is counter-productive if your goal is truly your own security. If you’re really interested in protecting yourself and your loved ones from harm, why wouldn’t you seek out the best information, skills and equipment that you can possibly find? (I’m not talking about “most expensive”, either.) If your preparations and training aren’t optimal for the risks you face, wouldn’t you want someone to tell you where you might be able to improve?
I think most rational people would, but the problem is that there is always a small percentage who don’t. I can always tell whether I’m dealing with an enthusiast — a hobbyist — or a person who’s really concerned with their ability to keep themselves from harm simply by the way they react to something I’ve said. The hobbyist reacts with indignation or arrogant dismissal, where the truly prepared individual considers what’s presented and decides its value based on their context and expected use. The funny part of this is that the hobbyist would even be reading my work — or anyone else’s — at all!
If someone is looking for information, be it in an article or a video, you’d think that they’d be doing so because they want to learn. Sometimes that’s true, but over the years I’ve found that another big segment of people are just looking for external validation of their choices, and when they don’t get it they respond in the manner I’ve described. How many times have you seen something online where a person has just bought a product — whether it’s a firearm, a training course, or a new dishwasher — and asked what people think of it? Wouldn’t the time to ask that question be BEFORE the purchase? Asking afterwards is simply looking for validation, and you see it constantly.
The worst combination is the hobbyist who is also looking for validation; they’re the ones who yell “I’m never going to read anything you write ever again!”
You’re the reason I’m here
Luckily, though, the majority of people I meet — both in person and online — are rational and pragmatic. They just want to keep themselves and their families safer and really want to find the best available information to do that. It’s for them that I do what I do: find the latest and most authoritative information, subject it to the best factual analysis I can, and then deliver it in a way that makes sense to them and their lifestyle.
I hope that’s valuable to you, too.
– Grant Cunningham
- Posted by Grant Cunningham
- On February 5, 2016