I’ve been receiving a lot of email enquiries about The Sniper Mind. I went into the trouble of grouping and then analyzing the questions that have been coming in and broadly speaking they fall into very specific
1. Is this book about snipers? That’s the first obvious question and the answer is a definitive “yes” and an equally definitive “no”. Actually while the word sniper features in the title and the book revolves around 100 interviews with active and retired snipers, this is not really a book about snipers in the traditional sense. Instead it uses the role of the sniper as a highly trained individual, called upon to perform seemingly impossible tasks that involve dealing with variables totally outside his control. How a sniper does that in order to achieve the positive outcome he needs is subject to the way the brain works. The book uses examples, interviews and the latest neuroscientific research to look at how the brain analyzes things, the priorities it gives to specific tasks, the way it allocates resources between tactical planning and execution and the way it marshals the admittedly limited resources it has to perform at an exceptional level. So really this book is about how to become more than you think you are capable of becoming in order to achieve the specific goals you set yourself.
2. How is The Sniper Mind a business book? While business and war are two entirely different subjects, at the conceptual level the dynamic governing each activity is very similar. We have specific forces (i.e. armies, groups, companies, brands) which have to marshal finite resources, deal with many variables they cannot control, factor in the unexpected and enter a fluid environment (i.e. the modern battlefield, the marketplace) where they need to achieve specific outcomes. Even more challengingly, these days, they both have to do it in ways that reflect the changes that have taken place in the modern world. In more detail, the battlefield of old was a plain upon which opposite armies would array themselves against each other and would strategize on ways to best use brute force to help them emerge victorious. It was a zero sum game. Similarly, business was about market dominance and the extermination of all competition and yes, brute force also played a part there, though it equated more to marketing than fighting. The modern battlefield, like the modern market place today, presents a fluid environment where potential enemies and friends live and move amongst each other. Dominance in this context is never about brute force. That would be counterproductive and it would only make the task at hand that much harder by complicating the way resistance emerges. So now, it is always about finding ways to create synergistic partnerships and relationships of trust that move things forward. The army in a theater of war, by necessity, will use force in some context but within that context there is an overwhelming need to be precise, methodical and above all, just. These are concepts that can be of immediate use in a business environment. They lead to executable practices that every business can benefit from.
3. What is the concept behind the book? There is a simple premise behind The Sniper Mind. Complex cognitive skills learnt in one walk of life have a direct bearing upon and can be transferred to others. By examining a lot of direct examples drawn from the military, elite sports, pilots, elite soldiers and special forces operatives and filtering it through the latest neuroscientific research the book distills science and real-life scenarios to practical steps that can be put to use immediately. Whether you are a businessman or a student, a solopreneur or a CEO, you will find in each chapter practical things that will help you develop better decision-making, more strategic thinking and a clearer, more analytical approach to problem solving.
4. How practical are the steps in the book? There are twelve chapters in the book. Each one covers a mental skill you can develop in order to be able to make better executive decisions even when tired or under pressure. Each chapter is complete in that it shows the concept in practice, explains the science behind it and then puts in place the practical steps you can take. Sometimes these are mental: you learn to use your brain in a different way by choosing to think differently. At other times they are process driven or physical as in specific things you can do to better prepare yourself for a particular condition. Regardless, they are all practical and can be put to use.
5. Is this book about war? No. While each chapter begins with a sniper story where the feat performed by an individual is recounted this is only to highlight the conditions under which each person performed the feat being detailed and the extraordinary performance he delivered in doing so. The Sniper Mind is about how we can learn from these instances and what cognitive and psychological skillset can we take away in order to optimize our own minds.
6. Does The Sniper Mind glorify snipers and killing? Definitely not. Sniper’s feats notwithstanding killing of all kind is to be condemned. War represents, almost always, critical failure of human communications and human values. Irrespective of who is involved in a war and for what reasons the only winners are the ones not taking part in the conflict. The decision to focus on snipers for a book on how to optimize your mind and make better decisions under pressure was incidental and it revolved around access to a lot of very specific data and exciting research that is taking place at the moment.
7. How will The Sniper Mind help me? Everything we do and everything we think and feel starts as a neural process in the brain. If the brain has no neural pathways for it or has not yet modelled something that exists outside it, it cannot truly perceive it. This means it can’t, also, understand it. Something that’s not understood cannot be analyzed. If it cannot be analyzed it cannot be controlled. If you reverse this process now you realize that if you had the mental skills that would allow you to analyze and fully understand the guiding elements of any tableau you are part of, you stand a much better chance of affecting it in ways that will produce the outcome you seek.
8. Is this just a business book? No. The Sniper Mind is a multifaceted book that can be read at many levels. You can certainly use it as a business book, following each chapter and learning and then applying the principles outlined. You can also use it as a manual for optimizing the set up of your business. As an entrepreneur or even a solopreneur you can use the guidelines of The Sniper Mind to help you optimize your approach to setting up your business. This is also a book on self improvement. Even small attributes like patience or focus that are studied and analyzed in the book which then goes on to show how they can best be applied can make a huge difference at a personal level, allowing the individual to become better at that they are doing (studying, working, developing a career etc).
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