The Twelve Cognitive Competencies You Need

In the transition from concept to practice The Sniper Mind helps you develop specific cognitive competencies that allow you to operate differently in the world.

These cognitive competencies are reflected in behavior which leads to action. Action is underpinned by decision making and choices. This is an entire chain of events that links what goes on in the space behind your eyes to what happens in the space in front of them. Everything matters and being intentional requires an awareness of all the processes involved.

As you build the next best version of you, here’s what you need to keep in mind:

1. Mindset. It is created out of your personal belief system which then affects your perception. These determine how you manage situations which lead to specific outcomes. Creating the right mindset requires an intentional approach to living and life.

2. Goal tradeoffs. There is no perfect moment, perfect plan or perfect opportunity. Understand that every choice is a decision and every decision has consequences. Balance the consequences of each decision against the results you want and the outcome you are aiming for. Look to get where you want through action, however imperfect, than just waiting for everything to be perfect.

3. Job smarts. Every job has its shortcuts. These are “tricks of the trade” that maximize efficiency and give a better return on investment in effort. None of it comes without thinking, experimentation and effort.

4. Workarounds. The ability to improvise requires experience and resourcefulness and a mindset that’s open to possibilities and capable of learning new things. Improvisation is creativity. Creativity hinges on attitude and approach, synthesis and analysis and the better appreciation (and use) of the data your senses report of the world around you.

5. Managing uncertainty and ambiguity. When every decision has to be made using incomplete data in a fast-moving, fluid environment, decision-making hinges on the ability to extract, very quickly the important points that constitute the signal in the noise. To do this you need better management of objective and subjective uncertainty and a way to narrow down the choices you see to a workable answer.

6. Situational Awareness. Being able to correctly understand the implications of the environment you’re in requires an awareness of motives and identity.

7. Boundary Conditions for Procedures. No one can be perfect in everything, everywhere, all the time. Best performance is bounded so specific procedures can be applied. A sniper brings his considerable skills to bear in very carefully bounded situations. Determine what boundaries you set and you then begin to see the issues you face much more clearly.

8. Problem detection and diagnosis. Analytical thinking happens best within specific boundaries that limit the magnitude of the problem that is being analyzed. Detecting a problem is as much the result of the parameters being used to define it as the level of analytical skills you bring to the game. Get better at defining problems and articulating them clearly. A problem that can be described with clarity is already a problem that’s half-understood.

9. Attention management. Paying attention is expensive because it consumes mental, emotional and physical resources that determine what becomes priority for us. Managing your attention is more than just deciding what to focus on mentally and emotionally. It also affects when and for how long. Given the fact that you only have a finite amount of energy to devote to any task, picking the wrong ones to focus on is part of the wrong decisions and poor choices that lead to cumulative errors in life and business.

10. Perceptual discrimination. Perception is a filter. It creates the reality you think you see when your brain processes the data reported by your senses. By discriminating between stimuli that are not just confusing in themselves but also confusable the brain recruits its resources to apply memory, learning strategies and the ability to recall applied lessons, quickly.   

11. Predictive Analysis. Predictability and the building of common interests that become the background that helps bring people together is how great teams are built. Building teams requires coordination and cooperation and it increases the chances of achieving positive outcomes in particular endeavors by pooling resources and generating a higher ROI than you’d get otherwise.

12. Trust Building. Building trust is the result of many other relational activities including communication, analysis, prediction and the setting of boundaries. Without trust no relationship can ever be built and no relational exchange of any kind can take place. Trust requires the development of distinctly human traits such as empathy and vulnerability.

Get a Cognitive Competencies Audit Poster to help you remember the skills you polish and the effect they have.


If you’re feeling that the world you knew has changed. If you’re sensing that the work you did no longer works. It’s time for an upgrade.

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