The OODA Loop
When I was an aircraft firefighter and rescue specialist in the Marines, I had to make decisions quickly. When I was driving the firetruck, I had to decide at which angle to approach a burning plane. When I was operating the roof turret, I have to decide where to lay down a path of fire suppressing foam to allow the rescue team to get into the burning plane. When I was on the rescue team, I had to decide how to get into the burning plane and rescue pilots and crew. I had a lot of life or death decisions to make and I had to make them correctly and quickly.
A valuable decision making tool I learned is the OODA Loop. OODA stands for Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. I continue to use the OODA Loop even though my decisions don't need to made as quickly and the consequences of my actions aren't as deadly.
You can even use the OODA Loop in your CrossFit workouts. Once you master it in "easy" situations you'll be more confident making decisions in more serious situations.
OBSERVE - The first step might be the hardest to master. It requires self awareness in addition to situational awareness. How are you feeling and what's going on around you? Are you scared, angry or feeling threatened? Is there chaos all around you? These are things you want to observe. They will impact your decisions. Take a moment to observe what's going on around you AND observe how you feel in response to what's going on around you.
In a CrossFit workout it might be that desperate feeling of not being able to breathe or feeling like your heart is now in your eyeballs.
ORIENT - Redirect your focus on what you need to achieve. What is your mission or objective or goal? In a CrossFit workout it might be a specific time or score. Perhaps you want to get so many rounds in an AMRAP or finish the workout under a specific time.
DECIDE - Based on what you've observed and what you need to accomplish, make a decision that moves you toward your objective. Perhaps you've loaded the barbell a bit too heavy to make the time cap. So you decide to reduce the weight. Maybe you're not able to to sustain a 2:10 pace for the 6K so you row at a 2:15.
Whatever you need to do to make your goal, make a decision to adjust your course of action so you can achieve it.
ACT - Put your decision into action. You've decided to reduce the weigh of your barbell, now do it. The action can always be altered.
In fact the OODA loop is just that, a LOOP. If your action did not move you toward your objective, decide on a new action based on the new situation.
Life is fluid and it is in our best interest to adjust to new situations. How many of us have had to change, alter, modify or completely abandon the course we were on a year ago? Yep, life is unpredictable, and you can develop a systematic way of making decisions that allows you to keep moving toward your objective even when the world is a chaotic mess around you.
Good luck and share with me your OODA Loop experiences.
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