Sunday, February 18, 2018

Can we (safely) adopt the key traits of the minds of snipers in our business and private lives?

This is my review of David Amerland „The Sniper Mind. Eliminate Fear, Deal with Uncertainty and Make Better Decisions”. (

As I know the author in person and feel honoured by our relation – I started reading his new book soon as it was published. I valued his technical books high and one of them (“Google Semantic Search”) was already a great source for inspiration for myself and my co-workers and a confirmation that our investment of time and energy into Semantic Technologies was not a misplaced effort.

Since then, and despite two more books in the general area of the social media and SEO domains, David started to evolve toward more fundamental matters that have impact on the life of businesses in the digital era and us – as the pillars of these businesses. His “The Tribe That Discovered Trust” touched the most vital feature of the business in the digital world – the trust – and how to create and regain if it was lost.

“The Sniper Mind” goes even further and marks David’s entry into an area that could perhaps be called business self-help books (what is in some sense corroborated by its subtitle), although I’m afraid to apply such a classification to that outstanding book…
Before I go to the essence of the book, I must admit I was initially deeply concerned if I ever would like it! My fear came straight from David’s choice to choose snipers and their minds as a source of inspiration! My convictions, beliefs and everything I value in life is based on the foundation of the utmost importance of human life. I really believe that killing a person is to kill the entire universe with its meaning – because the meaning of the universe, the world, societies and the nations comes, to me, only from the representation of the reality in and by our minds. To be clear, I’m not solipsists of any kind – I just am sure that everything we attribute to the concept of MEANING comes from and only from human consciousness and human spirit embedded into, or emerging from, our brains and bodies.
Whatever side they take, the side we find as “our” or even morally justified – the role of the snipers is to kill. This is just a fact we can’t deny. Of course, I’m old and experienced enough not to subscribe to idealistic pacifism at all cost, and I understand that in too many cases today, when we have people whose goal is to kill and destroy – there is often no other way than to kill them before they kill us and our beloved. I understand it. Nonetheless, there was a huge barrier inside myself to accept lightly David’s choice…

So it took me long time and tens of turns of the pages from its more than 400 leaves tome to cope with my resistance…

That time came with the help of the author, who suddenly explained it all:

“Sniper skills are next to useless to us, of course, unless we can metaphorically bottle them and transfer elsewhere”

Later, long into the book he makes it even clearer:

"The aim of this book is not so much to uncover the overlaps between all the different activities people engage in and then connect the dots between them to draw a picture of the mind's ability to perform at seemingly unhuman levels. That would be pointless. Everything uncovered, documented, itemized, and explained is designed to give us a chapter-by-chapter skill set to work upon, improving our own capabilities, acquiring new ones, changing our mind-set so that we are no longer ruled by circumstance, we are no longer blindly reacting to events around us and are capable of taking positive action to make our own decisions and control our own destiny"

So here we are, reading about the snipers’ experiences in their battlefields. We are able to know many by name (like famous John Ethan Place, Craig Harrison or Simo Häyhä and many more), some of others remained anonymous.

David Amerland deeply analyses the most important skills of great snipers to find that what makes them great is not only related to the military training – in many ways the more important is their ability to control filings and emotions, and act in constructive way in situations where most of us would be, at least, demotivated. We discover, through their experience, that it is impossible to draw a boundary between the mind and the body – the lesson frequently forget today…

All this has lots to do with the working of our brains. The book is full of references to neuroscience and psychology (can’t forget great references to the works of Amy Cuddy or David Eagleman). What I liked the most are the references to the meditation techniques, Zen and Vedic Sanskrit teaching (including the great: “Yad bhavam tad bhavati” – “You become. As you think”). In one of the Appendixes to the book the author gives the simple, yet effective lesson of meditation. We are frequently reminded in the book about the “other” dimension of our consciousness: “I listened to the silence of my mind” – comes from one former SEAL sniper.

All this relates to our, “normal” lives. I specifically made the word quoted, as in today’s business (and frequently – our private life) environments, nothing is normal anymore - and what we need, is exactly the strength of character and an ability to focus to the absolute maximum – to empower ourselves and the others – to create “a motivational platform” upon which we can build and grow and avoid “excessive worries” and “negative outcomes”. (Now I quote the concept from the book and syndromes it helps to dispel).

The book has interesting and repetitive structure, which helps to understand how a given facet of snipers’ experiences translates to a “Business Cases” and which skills of the snipers form an “Acquisition List” we could apply to our business activities.

There is a sentence in the book that perhaps makes this review complete:

"Because of the complexity of each of us as individuals is a microcosm of the world around us, the first battle we fight which we need to win is always with ourselves"

And with this quote, which so beautifully summarizes the central David’s Amerland message, I end my review.

I strongly recommend the book to all who understand how difficult is to be active in business today and who need support, guidance and examples … DAVID AMERLAND helps multi-national clients and start-ups to organize their SEO and Social Media strategies. He is a business journalist, author and international speaker. He blogs about social media and search engine optimization, writes for a number of prominent websites including Forbes, and advises corporations on their social media crisis management techniques. His books on SEO, Social Media and web trends demystify the complexity of the subjects they cover for readers around the world.

 Mirek Sopek
Lodz, Poland, February 18, 2018

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